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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Ginna stays; Cayuga Lake sewage spill

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

Good morning! Only POLITICO New York Pro subscribers receive this email at 5:30 a.m. each weekday. If you'd like to receive it at that time, along with a customized real-time news feed of New York energy policy news throughout the day, please contact us at and we'll set you up for trial access. We’ll send the same newsletter to non-Pro subscribers at 10 a.m. Thank you for reading.

ROCHESTER NUCLEAR PLANT AWARDED SUBSIDY — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The struggling R.E. Ginna nuclear facility outside Rochester will be kept open for at least another 18 months after months of closed-door negotiations with the state and a subsidiary of a Spanish utility giant. Ratepayers upstate will pay $15.42 million every month to subsidize the plant through an extra surcharge added to their utility bills, according to an agreement filed late Wednesday. The average customer will see about a $2 surcharge per month, said state Public Service Commission spokesman James Denn. An earlier agreement for a three-year deal would have had them pay about twice that. The subsidy will end in March 2017.


--Environmental groups claim an Oswego County nuclear plant that may soon be shuttered could be replaced by renewable energy resources as well as energy efficiency initiatives.

--The Dutchess County Legislature is supporting one of the proposed transmission line projects for the Hudson Valley.

--Clean energy push in NJ: POLITICO New Jersey’s Linh Tat reports three environmental groups teamed up with former Gov. Jim Florio and a handful of current state lawmakers at the Statehouse on Thursday to announce the launch of a renewable energy campaign. ReThink Energy NJ.

--About a million gallons of sewage spilled in Cayuga Lake in the last week.

--A new pilot program will bring wifi-enabled LED streetlights to Schenectady.

--New York needs the federal solar tax credit for its industry to continue growing at a rapid pace, a member of the Finger Lakes solar co-op argues.

--Natural Gas Now joins many others in wondering when the Department of Environmental Conservation will make a final decision on the Constitution pipeline.

--Albany will host an environmental film festival.

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Providing more than 62% of America’s carbon-free electricity, existing, state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals. The industry also supports more than 475,000 jobs nationally and provides critical tax revenue locally for roads, schools and other public priorities. Learn more at **

FINALLY FRIDAY: Please let us know if you have stories, ideas, complaints or even if you're just lonely. We're always here at and And if you like this letter, please tell a friend and/or loved one. Here’s a handy sign-up link:

THE CLEAN POWER FIGHT BEGINS — The New York Times’ Coral Davenport: “As many as 25 states will join some of the nation’s most influential business groups in legal action to block President Obama’s climate change regulations when they are formally published Friday, trying to stop his signature environmental policy. In August, the president announced in a White House ceremony that the Environmental Protection Agency rules had been completed, but they had not yet been published in the government’s Federal Register. Within hours of the rules’ official publication on Friday, a legal battle will begin, pitting the states against the federal government. It is widely expected to end up before the Supreme Court ... While the legal brawls could drag on for years, many states and companies, including those that are suing the administration, have also started drafting plans to comply with the rules. That strategy reflects the uncertainty of the ultimate legal outcome — and also means that many states could be well on the way to implementing Mr. Obama’s climate plan by the time the case reaches the Supreme Court.”

EXXON AND BUSH ADMINISTRATION HELPED MUDDY CLIMATE SCIENCE — InsideClimate News: “As he wrapped up nine years as the federal government's chief scientist for global warming research, Michael MacCracken lashed out at ExxonMobil for opposing the advance of climate science. His own great-grandfather, he told the Exxon board, had been John D. Rockefeller's legal counsel a century earlier. 'What I rather imagine he would say is that you are on the wrong side of history, and you need to find a way to change your position,' he wrote. Addressed to chairman Lee Raymond on the letterhead of the United States Global Change Research Program, his September 2002 letter was not just forceful, but unusually personal. No wonder: in the opening days of the oil-friendly Bush-Cheney administration, Exxon's chief lobbyist had written the new head of the White House environmental council demanding that MacCracken be fired for 'political and scientific bias.' Exxon was also attacking other officials in the U.S. government and at the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), MacCracken wrote, interfering with their work behind the scenes and distorting it in public.”

BIZARRE REACTOR THAT MIGHT SAVE NUCLEAR — Science’s Daniel Clery: “If you’ve heard of fusion energy, you’ve probably heard of tokamaks. These doughnut-shaped devices are meant to cage ionized gases called plasmas in magnetic fields while heating them to the outlandish temperatures needed for hydrogen nuclei to fuse. Tokamaks are the workhorses of fusion — solid, symmetrical, and relatively straightforward to engineer — but progress with them has been plodding. Now, tokamaks’ rebellious cousin is stepping out of the shadows. In a gleaming research lab in Germany’s northeastern corner, researchers are preparing to switch on a fusion device called a stellarator, the largest ever built. The €1 billion machine, known as Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X), appears now as a 16-meter-wide ring of gleaming metal bristling with devices of all shapes and sizes, innumerable cables trailing off to unknown destinations, and technicians tinkering with it here and there. It looks a bit like Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon, towed in for repairs after a run-in with the Imperial fleet. Inside are 50 6-tonne magnet coils, strangely twisted as if trampled by an angry giant.”

FOSSIL DEMAND DECLINES — ClimateWire’s Benjamin Hulac: “Successful companies make and sell products that consumers demand, and fossil energy companies have long said demand for their products — particularly from emerging markets — will be strong decades from now. A group of U.K. researchers trying to debunk that notion issued its latest salvo last night. In a point-by-point analysis of population, economic, labor, energy and development trends, the authors of a report from Carbon Tracker Initiative, a London think tank that studies climate change and economic impacts, outline a host of reasons why fossil fuel demand may diminish sharply in 25 years.”

VW INVESTIGATING IF EMISSIONS DECEPTION WAS EVEN MORE EXTENSIVE — The New York Times’ Jack Ewing: “Volkswagen said on Thursday that it was investigating whether substantially more vehicles than previously disclosed were equipped with software intended to deceive emissions tests, raising the possibility of even greater damage to the company’s reputation and finances. The automaker admitted last month that 11 million cars and light commercial vehicles equipped with a diesel motor line known as the EA 189 had the illegal software. On Thursday, Volkswagen said it was investigating whether some versions of another diesel motor line, known as the EA 288, also had software intended to detect when a vehicle was undergoing emissions testing and turn on pollution controls.”

WIND PROVIDES MORE BANG FOR BUCK THAN SOLAR — Bloomberg’s Reed Landberg: “Britain could have six times the power-generation capacity for the same money by investing in wind turbines instead of the 24.5 billion-pound ($37.9 billion) Hinkley Point nuclear reactor. That’s the conclusion of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a London-based researcher that estimates the cost of power from renewables in the U.K. are rivaling fossil fuels even without subsidy. Wind easily beats the more expensive nuclear plant that Electricite de France SA is building with the support of investment from China. The findings highlights the trade-offs Prime Minister David Cameron weighed in his decision to support EDF’s bid to build the first new reactors in the U.K. in more than two decades. In backing nuclear and maneuvering to draw Chinese funds in a deal due on Wednesday, Cameron prioritized reliability of supply and the impact on rural landscapes over cost.”

GLOBAL TEMPS HIGHEST EVER — The New York Times’ Justin Gillis: “Global temperatures are running far above last year’s record-setting level, all but guaranteeing that 2015 will be the hottest year in the historical record — and undermining political claims that global warming had somehow stopped. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the American agency that tracks worldwide temperatures, announced Wednesday that last month had been the hottest September on record, and in fact took the biggest leap above the previous September that any month has displayed since 1880, when tracking began at a global scale. The agency also announced that the January-to-September period had been the hottest such span on the books.”

PHOTO OF THE DAY: Check out the beautiful afterlife of New York City’s decommissioned subway cars.

INTERIOR APPROVES ALASKA DRILLING — POLITICO’s Elana Schor: “The Interior Department [on Thursday] OK'd ConocoPhillips' bid to drill in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve, setting the stage for the first federal fuel production in the area. The Bureau of Land Management's approval of the permit for the so-called Greater Moose's Tooth project will allow the company to construct an approximately 12-acre drilling pad within the Alaskan reserve that is about the size of Indiana. More than 1.75 million acres are currently under lease in the reserve, according to BLM, but so far only exploratory drilling has been conducted there.”

U.S. VULNERABLE TO ENERGY CYBERATTACK — McClatchy: “The U.S. needs to be more aggressive in putting critical energy infrastructure out of reach of cyberattacks, a top official of the government’s Idaho National Laboratory warned lawmakers. Brent Stacey, the lab’s associate director, told a pair of House subcommittees Wednesday that the problem is bad and getting worse. 'The dynamic threat is evolving faster than the cycle of measure and countermeasure, and far faster than the evolution of policy,' he said.”

FIRST NEW NUCLEAR OF 21ST CENTURY APPROVED — The Associated Press: “The Spring City reactor that will be the nation's first new nuclear generating plant of the 21st century has gotten the go-ahead from the federal government. The Tennessee Valley Authority says the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued an operating license for Watts Bar Unit 2 on Thursday. Speaking at a news conference at the plant, TVA President Bill Johnson said the reactor will provide low-cost, reliable and clean energy. Nuclear reactors do not produce greenhouse gases, although some environmentalists dispute the "clean" label because reactors produce radioactive waste.”

CA UTILITY REACHES $400M NUCLEAR SETTLEMENT — The Los Angeles Times: “Southern California Edison has reached a $400-million settlement with its insurer over the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant that the utility says will help cut customers' costs. Edison said 95% of the money from Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited, or NEIL, "will benefit customers," though it will not come in the form of a refund. The utility plans to make adjustments in rates that will reduce customer bills instead. The adjustment will result in a 2% to 2.5% decline in the average customer bill beginning in January, Edison said.”

THANK YOU, BEAVERS: Researchers at the University of Rhode Island believe that an increased beaver population in the Northeast is helping reduce nitrogen levels in coastal estuaries. Nitrogen levels have been on the rise due to increased sewage and fertilizer. The mighty North American beaver, or castor canadensis, which builds dams to retain water for its home, is able to collect the nitrogen and keep it out of the waterways. Nitrogen leads to algae bloom which can deprive oxygen for marine life. The beaver ponds trap the nitrogen making it easier to to remove. "What motivated us initially to study this process was that we were aware of the fact that beaver ponds were increasing across the Northeast," said researcher Arthur Gold. "We observed in our other studies on nitrogen movement that when a beaver pond was upstream, it would confound our results."

--Here’s more on our friend, the beaver:


--Oil boosted by demand: The Wall Street Journal reports oil had a good day.

“Light, sweet crude for December delivery settled up 18 cents, or 0.4%, to $45.38 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, rose 23 cents, or 0.5%, to $48.08 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.”

--Natural gas sinks to three-year low: The Journal reports weak demand and a lot of supply sent prices falling.

“Futures for November delivery settled down 1.8 cents, or 0.7%, at $2.386 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement since June 13, 2012.”

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Some of America’s existing nuclear energy plants face early closure due to current economic and policy conditions. Providing more than 62% of America’s carbon-free electricity, existing, state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals. The industry also supports more than 475,000 jobs nationally and provides critical tax revenue locally for roads, schools and other public priorities.

If we want to keep America working, we need policymakers to support policies that will keep safe and reliable nuclear energy plants working for all of us. Voice your support for sensible policies that drive our national economy and join us at **

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