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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Slow Green Bank; LIPA's rave reviews

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.

GREEN BANK SLOW TO DISBURSE FUNDS — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: One year into its operation, the state’s $1 billion Green Bank has been slow to distribute money to get projects off the ground. According to the latest filing by the Green Bank's administrators, made late Thursday with the state Department of Public Service, about $50 million in funds was considered “executed and closed," meaning the money was earmarked for approved projects. However, none of that money has actually been handed out, according to the filing. The projects may actually never get off the ground because of the complexity and financing they require.

According to the filing, no funds had been disbursed as of the end of September. However, perhaps to ward off criticism the Green Bank is not actually giving out money, a footnote was added to the filing indicating $4.2 million had been given out for an unknown project within the past few weeks.

LIPA GETS RARE GOOD REVIEWS — POLITICO’s David Giambusso: Long Island utility customers and elected officials may not be happy with the Long Island Power Authority's rate hike, but the national credit rating agencies are. Moody's, Fitch and Standard & Poor's have now all issued positive report cards for LIPA — something the beleaguered authority is not used to. All three of the agencies said LIPA's finances are stabilizing thanks in part to the LIPA Reform Act, which put PSEG Long Island in charge of the grid, and in part to the rate increases that are all but sure to go into effect. In October, the LIPA board of trustees tacitly accepted a three-year, $325 million rate increase in the cost of power delivery.

** 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 **

WIND PROJET CITED BY CUOMO FAR FROM CERTAIN — Newsday’s Mark Harrington: “Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday cited interference with a ‘critical’ wind-energy proposal in the Atlantic as a prime reason for vetoing the Port Ambrose offshore natural-gas terminal, but many uncertainties surround the long-delayed power project, which federal officials recently said still could be rejected. On Long Island last week, officials from the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management acknowledged the wind project could ‘could shrink, change shape or go away’ entirely, depending on an ongoing assessment of impacts. A lease for the project has yet to be awarded, and that prospect is still at least a year away.”

FORMER COAL-BURNING POWER PLANT A GENEROUS ALBANY SPENDER — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: A former coal-burning power plant in the Finger Lakes looking for a second life has spent almost $500,000 on lobbying in Albany and donations to Gov. Andrew Cuomo as it seeks to repower with natural gas. The Greenidge Generating Station, located along the shores of Seneca Lake in the village of Dresden, Yates County, was mothballed in 2011. The plant’s operators, Greenidge Generation LLC, want to convert the 100-megawatt plant to natural gas and operate it during periods of peak energy grid demand. They also aim to build a 5-mile pipeline. Greenidge is still awaiting final sign off by state and federal officials, but could be operating within a few weeks.


--The New Yorker produced a 12-minute documentary on the proposal to store gas underneath Seneca Lake, which has been awaiting a decision by the state Department of Environmental Conservation for seven years.

--The state is investigating why hundreds of thousands of Verizon customers were without 911 service for hours on Thursday.

--Gov. Andrew Cuomo's veto of a proposed natural gas marine terminal off Long Island was welcomed by opponents, but it could add more impetus to several massive natural gas pipeline projects seeking to carry hydrofracked natural gas through the state from neighboring Pennsylvania, the Times Union reports.

--Three upstate gas station owners were charged for not paying $170,000 in gas sales tax.

--Montreal will begin dumping 2 billion gallons of untreated sewage into the St. Lawrence River this week.

--Hoosick Falls solar garden: The Times Union reports: “The village of Hoosick Falls and Monolith Solar Associates plan a ribbon-cutting event at 11 a.m. Monday at 9 Walnut St. where they will discuss the installation of the village's first ‘solar garden.’”

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BATTERIES SHORT OUT — Empire Center’s Ken Girardin: “One of New York State’s highly touted high-tech ‘investments’ just shorted out. General Electric announced [Friday] it is pulling the plug on its Durathon battery project, which is manufactured by a Schenectady-based subsidiary, GEMx Technologies. The project, which for a time employed more than 350 people, was awarded $12.5 million in ‘JOBS Now’ capital funding from the state Empire State Development Corp. in 2013. GEMx also received a $5 million grant from the tax-subsidized Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority, according to ESD documents (pages 22 to 33). A 2013 project summary (page 33) promised $130 million in ‘economic benefits’ over a seven-year period. GE [Friday] said in a statement: The energy storage industry continues to evolve, and though Durathon battery technology is well-suited for certain applications, today it is just not cost-effective enough to manufacture at a competitive price point compared to other battery technologies.”

OIL GLUT SOAKS THE WORLD — The New York Times’ Clifford Krauss: “Such is the state of the oil industry these days that there is sometimes nowhere to put the oil. Off the coast of Texas, a line of roughly 40 tankers has formed, waiting to unload their crude or, in some cases, for a willing buyer to come along. Similar scenes are playing out off the coasts of Singapore and China and in the Persian Gulf. There is little sign that the logjam will ease, as the price of oil continued its yearlong plunge this week, declining by nearly $10 a barrel.”

FULL PIPELINE LEADS TO MORE OPTIONS — The Wall Street Journal’s Nicole Friedman: “Energy companies and trading firms are scrambling for space on the nation’s biggest refined-fuel pipeline, as U.S. infrastructure fails to keep pace with the oil boom. The Colonial Pipeline, which covers 5,500 miles stretching from Texas to New Jersey and delivers about 40% of the gasoline consumed on the East Coast, is full. Completed in 1964 and stretching across 13 states, the pipeline is the primary artery connecting the Gulf Coast, where much of the nation’s gasoline, diesel and jet fuel is produced, to the East Coast, the biggest-consuming region.”

CALIFORNIA MAY EXTEND WATER CUTS — The Wall Street Journal: “California Gov. Jerry Brown is taking steps to extend mandatory water cuts in urban areas as a statewide drought stretches into its fifth year. Mr. Brown issued an executive order Friday allowing for the extension of mandatory water restrictions until the end of October 2016 if the state still faces drought condition early next year. Restrictions requiring a 25% reduction are set to expire in February.”

FRANCE PRESSES ON WITH CLIMATE SUMMIT — Bloomberg: “The French government vowed to push on with the United Nations Climate summit in Paris this month and will boost security for the more than 120 world leaders traveling to a city reeling from a deadly terrorist attack. ‘It will go ahead with reinforced security measures,’ French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in Vienna on [Saturday] a day after gunmen killed as many as 129 people in Paris. ‘This is an absolutely necessary step in the battle against climate change and of course it will take place.’ France had already reinstated border controls before the attack, and will increase police deployment for the talks scheduled to take place at the Le Bourget airfield in the north of Paris between Nov. 30 and Dec. 11. The summit is more important now than ever, Le Point magazine quoted French energy minister Segolene Royale as saying. ‘If not, terrorism wins,’ Royale said.”

LINK BETWEEN CLIMATE CHANGE AND TERRORISM NOT AS CRAZY AS IT SOUNDS — Vox’s Brad Plumer: During Saturday night’s Democratic presidential debate “[Vermont Sen. Bernie] Sanders was going too far when he said that climate change is ‘directly related’ to the growth of terrorism. It's hard to find any climate or security experts who would make that strong or straightforward of a causal link. But it's fine to raise the broader issue. What experts will often say — and what the Pentagon has been saying — is that global warming has the potential to aggravate existing tensions and security problems, by, for instance, making droughts or water shortages more likely in some regions. That doesn't mean war or terrorism will be inevitable in a hotter world. Climate will typically be just one of many factors involved. Still, climate change could increase the risk of violence, which is why many military officials now take it seriously.”

CLIMATE DENIAL AND EVANGELISTS — Vox’s David Roberts: “Late in the George W. Bush years, as environmentalists geared up for a big push on national climate change legislation under a new (Democratic, they hoped) president, one of their key strategies was to target ‘strange bedfellows’ constituencies. Hoping to avoid or at least blunt some typical forms of opposition, they courted big business, the military, and evangelical Christians. The effort to win over evangelicals was rooted in ‘Creation Care,’ a budding movement involving a faction of evangelical leaders who sought to integrate concern over climate change into the church's agenda.”

FROM SOLAR TO DIAMONDS — The New York Times’ John Markoff: “Just a decade ago, Silicon Valley had high hopes of becoming a vibrant manufacturing center by making solar panels. But price competition from abroad, particularly from China, quickly dashed those dreams. And so the founders of Nanosolar, a large start-up that raised about half a billion dollars in its first six years, began exploring ways to build that would apply their expertise to new technologies. A group of engineers and scientists, led by R. Martin Roscheisen, a founder of Nanosolar, announced on Wednesday that they had developed an advanced approach to making diamonds, using technology derived in part from making silicon chips and solar cells, to be used by a new company.”

BLOOMBERG TARGETS MICHIGAN AG — Crain’s Detroit Business: “Billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking on energy — and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette — in a series of political ads targeting opponents of new federal carbon rules.

A representative for Schuette said Bloomberg's $10 million ad buy, funded through his Independence USA PAC, amounts to little more than campaign rhetoric and won't stop Schuette from pursuing a lawsuit to block the new U.S. Environmental Protection AgencyClean Power Plan. Besides Schuette, Bloomberg's ads will focus on state attorneys general in Florida, Missouri and Wisconsin.”

HOG POWER — The Associated Press: “Supporters of a biogas project taking shape in northern Missouri say that manure from about 2 million hogs will be converted into renewable natural gas and sold by summer 2016. They also say the project will keep tons of methane out of the atmosphere.”

TECH TALK AT EEI — USA Today: “Top executives from investor-owned electric utilities across the U.S. gathered in , last week for the annual financial conference held by their trade association, the Edison Electric Institute. They spent hours meeting with analysts, investment bankers and ratings agencies regarding their utilities' financial returns and the outlook for capital spending, revenue and earnings. That's the sort of talk that's characterized the EEI meeting since it began 50 years ago. But one topic is gaining attention in these industry circles: The potential for new technology to cause upheaval for utilities along the lines of what happened in the telephone industry, starting with the breakup of Ma Bell, and in the taxi business, with the more recent arrival of upstarts like Uber.”


--Oil takes a steep dive: Oversupply and slackening demand took oil to near $40 a barrel Friday after a rough week, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Crude oil for December delivery fell $1.01, or 2.4%, to $40.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday, bringing losses for the week to 8% ... Brent crude, the global benchmark, fell 45 cents, or 1%, to $43.61 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, also down 8% on the week.”

--Natural gas surges, on cold weather forecasts, the Journal reports.

“Futures for December delivery settled up 10.1 cents, or 4.5%, at $2.361 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 at **

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