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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: The Skelos ultimatum; Con Ed battles PSEG

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 newyork@politicopro.com 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.

‘THIS DAY SUCKS’ — "Skelos threatened to challenge Cuomo over fracking," POLITICO New York’s Josefa Velazquez: Following Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decision to ban fracking in New York last year, Dean Skelos, then the majority leader of the state Senate, assailed the governor and said he would run against him, according to a wiretapped phone call between the senator and his son that was played for the jury during their corruption trial on Wednesday. “Ahhh! This day sucks,” Adam Skelos told his father in a phone call dated Dec. 17, 2014, the same day the Cuomo administration concluded fracking posed “significant health risks.” “It does. Well, we’re going to totally focus on that other thing now. OK?” the elder Skelos replied, without indicating what the "other thing" was. “He’s such a pussy,” Adam Skelos said of the governor, accusing Cuomo of flip-flopping on fracking. “I’m going to run against him,” Dean Skelos said as his son cheered him on. “I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it. This is stupid. Everything is by polls … No more, you know, buddy-buddy and all that stuff. He’s full of shit.” Cuomo won re-election to a second term in November 2014. http://politi.co/1MVZQPf\

--Here’s the audio, courtesy of the Daily News. Readers, it’s like how Shakespeare was meant to be played. http://bit.ly/1MW09cX

CON ED VS. PSE&G — POLITICO’s David Giambusso: They are the utility titans of New York and New Jersey, but Con Edison and PSE&G are not playing nice together when it comes to sharing resources. A complex regulatory battle is underway between the two utilities over costs associated with transmission lines that serve both states. A decades-old power-sharing agreement that has long been the source of consternation between the two utilities is once again at the center of a dispute. The argument stems from something called a “flywheel,” a construct that allows electricity generated in New York state to travel south through PSE&G territory in New Jersey and then back into New York City, where Con Edison holds dominion. Together the 'flywheel' system is good for about 1,000 megawatts shipped from New Jersey to New York. The system needs upgrades and Con Ed is on the hook for more than $700 million, an allocation they are fighting vigorously. http://politi.co/1lvsVey

** 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 NuclearMatters.com. **

OPERATORS OF FITZPATRICK NUCLEAR PLANT FILE CLOSURE NOTICE — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The owners of the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County say talks with state officials to keep the facility open have been “unsuccessful,” and on Wednesday filed a notice with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission indicating they would close the money-losing plant. Meanwhile, the operators of another struggling nuclear facility were scheduled to have a closed-door meeting with senior state energy officials, according to sources with knowledge of the meeting. Entergy, which runs the FitzPatrick plant, filed a notice with the NRC that the plant would permanently cease operations at the end of its current operating cycle. FitzPatrick, which employs 600 and contributes $17 million in annual taxes, is expected to be closed in about a year. http://politi.co/1MCLFiJ

CRUDE OIL PIPELINE APPLICATION MOVES FORWARD — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: A proposed pipeline that would carry crude oil from Albany to New Jersey moved another step forward on Wednesday. Developers of the 178-mile Pilgrim pipeline submitted permits in New York with the state Thruway Authority. The pipeline would be two separate, parallel underground lines that would run about 116 miles in New York, following the Thruway right of way, and then through New Jersey to refineries in Linden. The pipeline will flow in both directions, bringing 200,000 barrels of gasoline, diesel, kerosene and home heating oil north every day and the same amount of crude oil to the south. The company is expected to file for permits in New Jersey by the end of the year. http://politi.co/1HYpEOQ

AROUND NEW YORK:

--A federal agency is looking into the increased deaths of Hudson River sturgeon to see if they are connected to the Tappan Zee bridge project. http://lohud.us/1kFCh7g

--General Electric is moving its renewable energy headquarters from Schenectady to Paris. http://bit.ly/1NE4RMR

--GE’s CEO certainly made it seem like the company was leaving Connecticut when he spoke to a crowd that included Gov. Dannel Malloy’s economic chief. http://bit.ly/1OQgUfX

--An Albany-area fuel cell manufacturer is making a more reliable fuel cell for its forklift customers. http://bit.ly/1kFCOWR

--Environmental groups are pushing for the cleanup of a Buffalo-area creek. http://bit.ly/1NEhGac

--“Solar installer US Light Energy in Latham appears to be on the rebound after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May. The firm says it expects to emerge from bankruptcy protection next year and is currently building a 2-megawatt solar farm in the Berkshires that will be completed by the second quarter of 2016.” http://bit.ly/1MVXLCY

SWEET THURSDAY: This newsletter is for you so let us know if you have tips, story ideas or life advice. We're always here at dgiambusso@politico.com and swaldman@politico.com. And if you like this letter, please tell a friend and/or loved one. Here’s a handy sign-up link: politi.co/1UqoEoB

MASS AG SAYS NO NEW PIPELINES — The Boston Globe: “Attorney General Maura Healey said building natural gas pipelines isn’t the best option for meeting the state’s energy needs. New pipelines would reduce Massachusetts electricity prices, but could result in ‘potentially unacceptable’ increases in greenhouse gases, according to a long-awaited study released Wednesday by Healey’s office. ‘This study demonstrates that we do not need increased gas capacity to meet electric reliability needs, and that electric ratepayers shouldn’t foot the bill for additional pipelines,’ Healey said in a statement. ‘A much more cost-effective solution is to embrace energy efficiency and demand response programs that protect ratepayers and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.' Increasing energy efficiency and encouraging electricity users to scale back their use when demand is high would result in more savings than building a new pipeline, according to the study, conducted by consulting firm Analysis Group Inc. Conserving energy would cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions and save consumers $146 million per year through 2030.” http://bit.ly/1ORyBvF

--Here are the Attorney General’s findings: http://1.usa.gov/1ORyRei

SENATORS USE OLD TRICK TO REVIVE CARBON CAPTURE — The New York Times’ Diane Cardwell: “For years, power companies, manufacturers and entrepreneurs have tried to make capturing and storing carbon emissions from industrial operations like burning coal into a business, to little avail. Despite decades of promising research, demonstration projects and government investment, large-scale developments have often proved too difficult and costly to get off the ground. But now two senators think they have hit on a way to move the industry forward. Under a bill set to be introduced on Thursday, carbon capture projects — considered important tools for fossil fuel power plants and industrial facilities to meet anticipated greenhouse gas restrictions — would qualify for tax-exempt private activity bonds, which helped clean up air pollution in the 1970s and 1980s. Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, who is a co-sponsor of the bill, said that power plants 'used some of these private-activity-type bonds' to install equipment like “scrubbers and so on back in the day.' His co-sponsor, Senator Michael F. Bennet, Democrat of Colorado, said, 'This is the very same idea.'” http://nyti.ms/1MVYuE1

EPA CONFIDENT IN CLEAN POWER PLAN — Bloomberg’s Jennifer Dlouhy and Laura Curtis: “One day after the Senate voted to block the Obama administration’s plan to throttle greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency predicted the rules would survive all challenges in Congress, the courts and on the presidential campaign trail. The Clean Power Plan will prevail as have other agency regulations imposed under the Clean Air Act, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said Wednesday at the ‘Election 2016 and The Future of Energy’ discussion with Bloomberg Politics in Washington. ‘There is a history of us moving forward under the Clean Air Act, and there is a history of us winning time and time again,’ McCarthy said. ‘We are not seeing our large initiatives go down because a Republican has gone into the presidency, or because Congress has decided to to take it up.’” http://bloom.bg/1NbGdJp

KOCHS’ SPIES — POLITICO’s Kenneth Vogel: “The political network helmed by Charles and David Koch has quietly built a secretive operation that conducts surveillance and intelligence gathering on its liberal opponents, viewing it as a key strategic tool in its efforts to reshape American public life. The operation, which is little-known even within the Koch network, gathers what Koch insiders refer to as ‘competitive intelligence’ that is used to try to thwart liberal groups and activists, and to identify potential threats to the expansive network. The competitive intelligence team has a staff of 25, including one former CIA analyst, and operates from one of the non-descript Koch network offices clustered near the Courthouse metro stop in suburban Arlington, Va. It has provided network officials with documents detailing confidential voter-mobilization plans by major Democrat-aligned groups. It also sends regular ‘intelligence briefing’ emails tracking the canvassing, phone-banking and voter-registration efforts of labor unions, environmental groups and their allies, according to documents reviewed by POLITICO and interviews with a half-dozen sources with knowledge of the group.” http://politi.co/1MCsOnU

COAL INDUSTRY ON LIFE SUPPORT — Opinion by Raul Grijalva for the New York Times: “While it may not qualify for life support just yet, the American coal industry is decidedly unhealthy. Republicans in Congress like to blame what they call President Obama’s ‘war on coal.’ In particular, they single out for scorn the president’s Clean Power Plan, which will set first-time emissions standards for carbon dioxide on coal-fired power plants by 2022. Many old, dirty plants will close as a result. The industry’s self-described defenders seem to assume that without these rules, American coal would be financially sound into the foreseeable future because Americans — and people everywhere — still need cheap energy. If a hypothetical Republican president forgoes carbon regulations, they believe, the industry’s problems will be solved and we can get back to business as usual.” http://nyti.ms/1Ln9gSQ

CONGRESSMAN SMITH’S NOAA HUNT — The Washington Post’s Lisa Rein: “The standoff between federal climate scientists and a senior House Republican over a groundbreaking global warming study is exposing an emerging tension over government research: the freedom to pursue scientific truth vs. the public’s right to know what is being done with taxpayer money. The flash point in the feud between House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is a congressional subpoena. The congressman, a prominent global warming skeptic, is demanding that the government turn over its scientists’ internal exchanges and communications with NOAA’s top political appointees. Smith believes this information, showing the researchers’ deliberative process, will prove that they altered data to fit President Obama’s climate agenda when they refuted claims in a peer-reviewed study in the journal Science that global warming had “paused” or slowed over the last decade.” http://wapo.st/1ORA8lr

BEER POWER IS HERE — Bloomberg’s Chris Martin: “Cambrian Innovation is extracting clean water and energy from waste streams at two California breweries with a secret set of microbes. The Boston-based startup has raised $30 million to install its EcoVolt systems, and plans to market them using a model that’s similar to the leases that are driving the residential solar market, Chief Executive Officer Matthew Silver said in an interview. The technology uses bio-engineered microbes that consume much of the contaminants in wastewater and belch out methane. While the water isn’t clean enough for drinking, customers use it for cleaning or agricultural purposes, and the methane can be burned to produce heat or electricity. The process reduces the need for traditional wastewater treatment services, according to Silver.” http://bloom.bg/1ORAIjf

FUTURES:

--Oil scrapes the barrel: Oil went below $40 Wednesday before erasing its losses the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Light, sweet crude for December delivery fell as low as $39.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest intraday level since August, before settling up eight cents, or 0.2%, at $40.75 a barrel. Brent, the global benchmark, rose 57 cents, or 1.3%, to settle at $44.14 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.” http://on.wsj.com/1ORBRY8

** 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 NuclearMatters.com. **

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