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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Cuomo on FitzPatrick closing, REV and keeping utilities healthy

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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CUOMO’S POST-FITZPATRICK OPTIONS — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Entergy seemed to seal the fate of the James A. Fitzpatrick nuclear facility when the company announced on Monday that it would shut down the Oswego County facility in about a year.

But the announcement didn't end speculation about what will happen next. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a Monday statement that the state will “pursue every legal and regulatory avenue in an attempt to stop Entergy’s actions.” It wasn’t clear what that meant, and a spokesman didn’t clarify.

REV: KEEPING UTILITIES HEALTHY — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: Regulators and industry are beginning to craft what rates will look like when utilities are no longer the sole transmitters of power. Comments were due last week from utilities, advocates and power generators on the latest phase of the process. The central problem is no one can be certain how utilities make money in a market that, for the most part, does not yet exist. "There's going to be a certain amount of revenue decline," said Karl Rábago, head of the Pace Energy and Climate Center, one of the primary academic institutions in the REV process. No matter how decentralized power generation becomes, nothing will work without utilities to manage the grid. The state Department of Public Service, therefore, is keen on making sure utilities are financially healthy. Enter a term called "market based earnings," (MBE) a concept Rábago likens to the Yellow Pages of old. A phone company has everyone's phone number so it publishes the numbers in a book. Businesses that want their phone numbers highlighted pay for an ad in the Yellow Pages and a utility revenue stream is born.

NATIONAL GRID TO PAY L.I. CUSTOMERS $3.3M — Newsday’s Mark Harrington: “Thousands of National Grid commercial gas customers will receive refunds averaging $916 after the utility was found to have charged them for natural gas delivery at the incorrect rate. In all, National Grid must return some $3.3 million to the 3,600 nonresidential gas customers who overpaid starting in 2008, according to the Public Service Commission, which reviewed and approved the payouts.”

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Providing more than 61 percent of New York’s carbon-free electricity, nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals. New York’s nuclear energy fleet supports about 18,000 jobs and provides $2.5 billion to the state’s GDP. Learn more at **


--The Bethlehem Central School District, near Albany, is considering a sizable solar farm.

--Here’s what GE’s $10 billion acquisition of Alstom’s gas turbine business could mean for Schenectady.

--HomeServe settles with AG: The Buffalo News reports that Connecticut-based HomeServe has agreed to pay $200,000 in a settlement with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office for misleading ads “after sending mailings to consumers that gave the wrong impression that the service plan was being offered by their local utility. HomeServe ... agreed to pay $100,000 in restitution and establish a $100,000 fund to provide free exterior water service line repairs to low-income New Yorkers under the settlement.”

--Albany is hosting a session on group solar purchasing.

--No gas leak at Montclair school: Montclair Patch reports Montclair High School was evacuated Friday after reports of a gas leak. PSE&G reported the leak was not coming from their infrastructure, the utility equivalent of ‘whoever smelt it, dealt it.’

HAPPY ELECTION DAY: It will be sunny with a high of 66 in Albany and sunny with a high of 71 in New York City.

Let us know if you have tips, 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:

KEYSTONE COMPANY URGES DELAY — POLITICO’s Elana Schor: “TransCanada on Monday asked the Obama administration to pause its review of the Keystone XL pipeline, a shift in strategy that could push the fate of the project past the 2016 elections despite the widespread expectation that the administration is about to reject it. Gleeful environmentalists urged President Barack Obama to refuse the Canadian energy company's request for a hiatus — saying he should instead kill the Alberta-to-Texas project while he has a chance. The project, under review by the State Department for more than seven years, has provoked a sharp political divide. Hillary Clinton and her Democratic presidential rivals all oppose the pipeline, while the GOP is uniformly championing it.”

PORSCHE CAUGHT IN VW SCANDAL — The New York Times' Jad Mouwad: “The Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday that it had discovered emissions-cheating software on more Volkswagen and Audi cars than previously disclosed and, for the first time, also found the illegal software in one of the carmaker’s high-end Porsche models. The German carmaker disputed the claims, however, saying it had not installed defeat software on the models in question that would ‘alter emissions characteristics in a forbidden manner.’ The company pledged in a short statement that it would cooperate with theE.P.A. ‘to clarify the matter in its entirety.’”

GAS GUZZLING FUELING BIOFUEL BOOM — Bloomberg: “Americans are burning the most gasoline in eight years. And the nation’s ethanol suppliers wouldn’t have it any other way. More demand means more gasoline being blended. And more blending means more ethanol potentially getting added to the mix. That may give President Barack Obama’s administration just the support it needs to raise the amount of ethanol that fuel suppliers must use in their mix, according to the Washington-based consultancy ClearView Energy Partners LLC. The Environmental Protection Agency submitted proposed biofuel requirements to the White House for review on Oct. 30, the government’s website shows.”

--Members of the Congressional Black Caucus called on EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to increase the amount of biofuels blended into domestic fuel supplies.

CONGRESSMEN ASK FOR SEC INVESTIGATION OF EXXON — InsideClimate News: “Four members of Congress asked the Securities and Exchange Commission late Friday to investigate ExxonMobil’s past federal filings to determine if the company violated securities laws by failing to adequately disclose material risks to its business posed by climate change. The letter to the SEC from members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by California Democrat Ted Lieu, cites recent separate investigative series by InsideClimate News and The Los Angeles Times regarding Exxon’s early research into climate change. The articles revealed that Exxon’s top management knew as far as back as the late 1970s of the threat of global warming from the burning of fossil fuels. A decade later, the company spearheaded industry efforts to derail regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and cloud public understanding of climate science.”

--Covering the coverage: The increased calls for federal investigations into ExxonMobil and what they knew about climate change are the result of two exhaustive investigative reports from teams at InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles times (the latter featuring POLITICO New Jersey’s Katie Jennings). NPR ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen writes that NPR has erred in not more aggressively following up on the stories.

LOW OIL PRICES COULD THREATEN OBAMA FUEL ECONOMY RULES — Vox’s Brad Plumer: “One of the very first things the next president will have to do — whether it's Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, or, heck, Donald Trump — is make a huge decision on cars. Specifically, on whether to strengthen or weaken President Obama's fuel-economy rules for cars and light trucks, which come up for a midterm review in 2017. Some automakers have hinted that they'll urge the government to relax its CAFE standards, which have been rising steadily ever since 2011. Their logic: oil prices have plummeted, gasoline is cheap again, and Americans are less keen on buying smaller, fuel-efficient cars. Not only could that make it tougher for manufacturers to meet the standards, but it means there's less financial benefit to conserving gasoline.”

COLORADO’S CLIMATE TAX — InsideClimate News: “As governments on every level begin to face the multiple threats that climate change pose, policymakers have debated the most effective method to curb greenhouse gas emissions. States and cities have experimented with cap-and-trade programs, regulatory schemes and varying ways to spur renewable energy growth. Boulder, Colo. embarked on one such climate experiment in 2007, when it became what is believed to be the the first municipality in the country to adopt a climate change tax. The city, home of the University of Colorado, sits at the eastern edge of the Rockies. It frequently ranks high as a place to live in rankings measuring health, quality of life and education. The tax, which is levied on the electricity sector, reduces emissions by more than 100,000 tons a year and brings in $1.8 million to the city’s coffers. That revenue has been used to offer businesses and homeowners rebates on energy efficiency equipment, expand bike lanes and set up funding for new community-based solutions to reduce energy consumption.”

WATCHING THE INSECTS — Time: “Scientists often point to the large-scale effects of climate change as evidence of the phenomenon. Antartica is melting, cities are flooding and temperatures in some parts of the world may top 170ºF, climate scientists say. But a look at seemingly subtle changes in the world around us can be just as illuminating. New research, published in the Journal of Animal Ecology, shows how climate change has affected more than 1,500 insect species collected from a single rooftop in Denmark over 18 years. As temperatures warmed, insects with an affinity for warm climates became more prevalent on the rooftop while some insect species with an affinity for cold climates disappeared, fleeing northward.”

GERMANY CUTTING RENEWABLE SUBSIDIES — Bloomberg’s Weixin Zha: “Germany will cut subsidies for onshore wind farms and biomass plants starting in January, the nation’s grid regulator said. Above-target onshore-wind installations resulted in a 1.2 percent subsidy cut, while below additions for biomass plants meant a lower cut of 0.5 percent, Jochen Homann, president of Bundesnetzagentur, said in a statement on Friday. As much as 3,666 megawatts of German onshore wind were installed in the 12 months through July, exceeding a target range of 2,400 megawatts to 2,600 megawatts. Biomass plant additions of 71 megawatts in the same period was below a 100-megawatt target, according to the regulator.”

CHINA HOT FOR GREEN BONDS — Bloomberg: “China is set to become a hotbed for the $100 billion market in bonds tied to environmentally-friendly investments as authorities and developers seek alternatives to loans for funding a transformation to clean energy supplies.The timing is ripe for so-called green bonds in China because policymakers are ‘more driven to promote healthy development during a period of economic slowdown,’ said Xu Nan, a policy analyst at the Research Center for Climate and Energy Finance under the Central University of Finance and Economics. Bonds labeled as green channel their proceeds for fund low-carbon transport, renewable energy and other technologies aimed to curtail global warming.”


--Oil prices fell Monday on continued concerns about weakening demand and increased global production, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Light, sweet crude for December delivery settled down 45 cents, or 1%, at $46.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 77 cents, or 1.6%, to $48.79 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.”

--Natural gas also slipped on weak demand, the Journal reports.

“Natural gas futures for December delivery settled down 6.5 cents, or 2.8%, to $2.256 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.”

** 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.

In New York, nuclear energy plants provide 31 percent of the state’s electricity and 61 percent of our carbon-free electricity. The existing nuclear energy plants in New York also support about 18,000 jobs and provide $2.5 billion to the state’s GDP.

If we want to keep New York working, we need policies that will keep New York’s state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants working for all of us. Join us **

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