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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Saving Dunkirk; Entergy, NY officials back at the table

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.

COAL PLANT OPERATOR LOOKS FOR ANOTHER OPTION TO PRESERVE DUNKIRK — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The operator of two coal-burning power plants in Western New York facing closure is looking at other options to keep one of them open, even as it says publicly that both will be shut down in the coming months. NRG Energy has already said it will shutter the Huntley coal-burning facility outside Buffalo within six months. It also plans to mothball its Dunkirk facility early next year, after another nuclear plant operator sued to stop the state's plan to repower it with natural gas. The state is looking at options to reduce transmission congestion the Public Service Commission has found exists in Western New York. Those options could include more transmission lines, including ones to bring in more Canadian hydropower, and last week, the state’s independent grid operator put out a request for proposals for solutions to ease the grid congestion.

ENTERGY, NY OFFICIALS TALKING AGAIN — Syracuse Post-Standard’s Mark Weiner: “Entergy Corp. and New York state officials have resumed negotiations aimed at averting a shutdown of the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plant in Oswego County, according to U.S. Rep. John Katko. The talks come 48 hours after Entergy informed its 615 employees at FitzPatrick that the company intends to begin shuttering the plant in late 2016 or 2017.

Katko, R-Camillus, said he spoke Wednesday with an Entergy executive and Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office, and confirmed the two sides are back at the negotiating table after a brief pause.”

SCHNEIDERMAN LEADS EPA DEFENSE — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: A coalition of 18 state attorneys general, led by New York's Eric Schneiderman, filed a motion on Wednesday seeking to intervene in a court battle over the Obama administration’s plan to reduce power plant emissions. Schneiderman said he and his colleagues wish to help defend the federal Clean Power Plan, which has come under attack from another group of state attorneys general, most of them from coal-producing regions, along with business groups. Their legal challenge, led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, seems destined for the U.S. Supreme Court. The law is designed to cut air emissions from power plants by about a third by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

** 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 **

SYRACUSE MAYOR ON INFRASTRUCTURE AND CLIMATE CHANGE — Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner for City & State: “As a country, we need to seize the opportunity to create policy recognizing the important connection between climate change and infrastructure. Failure to do so will lead to investing precious resources into failing systems and weaken our ability to compete in the modern economy. In contrast, meeting this challenge will create prodigious benefits. Not only will it give us a better quality of life, but modernizing our infrastructure to face these issues will harness engineering talent, create jobs, and develop new products and new technology that are needed around the world. My office overlooks the remnants of the Erie Canal — an infrastructure project conceived and built to meet the challenges of a very different time, and yet the lessons from that audacious project also ring true today. The national candidates asking to be our leaders should not forget our most American of traditions — meeting and overcoming challenges and transforming the world in the process. Melding the issues of infrastructure and climate change is just the opportunity we have to demonstrate our American ingenuity once again.”

NJ SENATOR HITS PORT AMBROSE — POLITICO’s David Giambusso: Republican State Sen. Jennifer Beck restated her opposition to the Port Ambrose liquefied natural gas facility ahead of public hearings on the project in New Jersey this week. Beck, who represents the 11th Legislative District, which sits in the center of New Jersey's shoreline, encouraged residents to attend hearings Wednesday and Thursday in Eatontown and voice their opposition to the project. “The Port Ambrose LNG is a project that could have a devastating impact for our ocean, beaches, and coastal communities. This project has no benefit for the State of New Jersey," Beck said in a statement. "There are no jobs, no new energy resources, and no economic benefit."


--It’s unlikely Cuomo can save the FitzPatrick nuclear plant, the Syracuse Post-Standard reports.

--Melissa McNamara, energy publicist, says this: “A new nationwide survey conducted by Global Strategy Group study found that when we asked which industries people thought are the most innovative, energy is in second place (39%) – ahead of health care, education, cable/ phone service, and financial services. The study also digs a little deeper into what industries people find innovative, how they define innovation, and how they view their own local utility’s efforts.” Melissa is not to be messed with. Read more here:

--PSEG Long Island will save a Long Island hospital $120,000 through energy efficiency measures.

--The Manhattan Institute argues that fracking, not solar power, is reducing carbon emissions.

--Greens claim victory in NJ races: Giambusso reports environmentalists took a victory lap Wednesday as green candidates scored decisive victories in some Assembly districts and upset wins in others.

GOOD THURSDAY MORNING: Three weeks from today you will likely not be at work and eating Turkey. That’s our free insight to you. 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:

WHITE HOUSE TO TRANSCANADA: GET READY — InsideClimate News: “The U.S. State Department rejected TransCanada Corp.’s request to pause the government’s evaluation of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. 'We’ve told TransCanada that the review process will continue,' State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington Wednesday, a day after U.S. officials said they were formulating a response to the Canadian company’s request. He said Secretary of State John Kerry wanted to finish work on the review after 'all that has gone into it.' TransCanada asked the State Department to put its review process on hold in a letter Monday, saying there was no need for the review to continue while it seeks approval from Nebraska authorities for the pipeline’s route through that state. The request was seen by some analysts as an attempt to circumvent a possible rejection of the pipeline project by President Barack Obama by delaying a final decision until his successor takes office in 2017. The company has rejected that view."

NRG PAYING ITS CREDIT CARDS — Bloomberg: “NRG Energy Inc., the worst performer in the S&P 500 Utilities Index since January, is working to pay down its $20 billion debt load to appease investors after years of expansion. The company will allocate as much as $1.6 billion in capital to reduce debt this year and next, and step up cost cuts by an additional $100 million on top of a previous target of $150 million, Chief Executive Officer David Crane said Wednesday during a conference call. The shift comes after Crane went on a more than $7.4 billion buying spree since 2012 that almost doubled NRG’s generation capacity. Crane is also backtracking on efforts to move the fossil-fuel generator into the clean energy business by splitting off the company’s residential solar and electric-car charging businesses.”

CHINESE BURNING MORE COAL THAN DISCLOSED — The New York Times’ Chris Buckley: “China, the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases from coal, has been burning up to 17 percent more coal a year than the government previously disclosed, according to newly released data. The finding could complicate the already difficult efforts to limit global warming. Even for a country of China’s size, the scale of the correction is immense. The sharp upward revision in official figures means that China has released much more carbon dioxide — almost a billion more tons a year according to initial calculations — than previously estimated. The increase alone is greater than the whole German economy emits annually from fossil fuels.”

BUYING A BARREL OF OIL — Bloomberg’s Tracy Alloway: “‘Don't buy a barrel of oil,’ the broker said. ‘It'll kill you.’ A fortuitous meeting between a gas trader and his broker at a bar in downtown New York was not going the way I had hoped. After revealing a long-held plan to try to buy a barrel of crude, I was now receiving a disappointingly stern lecture on the dangers of hydrogen sulfides. The wine tasted vaguely sulfuric, too. Oil may be king of the commodities, but its physical form is tough to come by for a retail investor. Mom and pop can buy gold and silver. They can gather aluminum cans, grow soybeans, and strip copper wiring, if they choose, but oil remains elusive — and for very good reason. Oil, as I would soon discover, is practically useless in its unrefined form. It is also highly toxic, very difficult to store, and smells bad.”

EPA SCIENCE ADVISERS FAULT FRACKING STUDY — EnergyWire’s Mike Soraghan: “U.S. EPA's science advisers are criticizing the agency's June announcement dismissing the dangers to drinking water from hydraulic fracturing. They are saying the assertion that EPA's study shows fracturing hasn't led to ‘widespread, systemic’ problems with drinking water from fracturing needs to be changed, because the terms are ill-defined. ‘There's agreement the sentence needs to be modified,’ said David Dzombak, a Carnegie Mellon University professor chairing the EPA scientific advisory panel conducting a peer review of the agency's hydraulic fracturing study, released in June. ‘The sentence is ambiguous and requires clarification.’ Some members of the panel have said that more weight should be given to the ’severity of local impacts’ on water supplies. The panel is months away from finishing its work, which would be a recommendation to EPA, not an order.”

EXXON WORRIED ABOUT SOLAR POWER IN 1980s — Bloomberg’s Eric Roston: “For more than a generation, solar power was an environmentalist fantasy, an expensive and impractical artifact from the Jimmy Carter era. That was true right up until the moment it wasn't. Solar silicon prices dropped 94 percent from early 2008 to the end of 2011. Crystalline silicon has since fallen an additional 47 percent, to $15.20 a kilogram. Many were caught off guard by the emergence of solar as a competitive power source. The scientist who led Exxon's research arm back in the 1980s wasn't one of them.”


--Oil erases gains: The Wall Street Journal reports that oil futures lost value on incoming data of yet more inventory than the markets imagined. There may be something to this supply and demand idea.

“Light, sweet crude for December delivery settled down $1.58, or 3.3%, at $46.32 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell $1.96, or 3.9%, to $48.58 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.”

** 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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