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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Clean energy fund on hold; PSC hits Con Ed on East Harlem blast

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.

PSC SHELVES $5 BILLION CLEAN ENERGY FUND, FOR NOW — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The state Public Service Commission on Thursday abruptly shelved its expected approval of a $5 billion fund central to the Cuomo administration's push for more renewable energy. The PSC was due to vote on the Clean Energy Fund, which would be used to support the growth of renewable energy in New York, as well as an energy efficiency initiative. However, at some point in the last few days, it was pulled off the list for a possible vote, even though it is supposed to replace a number of programs that expire in just a few few weeks. In an unusual move, PSC Chairwoman Audrey Zibelman addressed the removal of the items from the meeting agenda and said there's nothing to see here.

STATE BLAMES CON ED FOR EAST HARLEM BLAST: — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Con Edison could face state fines and legal action as a result of a 20-month state investigation into the East Harlem gas explosion that killed eight people and injured dozens more early last year. The Public Service Commission revealed the results of the probe at its regular meeting Thursday. It found explosion was caused when an erosion of soil under the street put pressure on an improperly fused gas line. The resulting leak persisted for days before the gas exploded, with little public concern raised about the gas smell. The PSC found almost a dozen violations against Con Ed — including that it wasn't properly certifying or training workers to fuse pipelines, that it didn't have the necessary valves installed to control the gas leak and that it should have conducted better outreach to the public about reporting gas leaks.

** 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 **


--A report due out today by a group associated with the Natural Resources Defense Council demonstrates why heating is a crucial part of cutting NYC’s building emissions. The report urges simple fixes that can dramatically reduce wasted heat this winter. The New York Times reports.

--State lawmakers opine about the benefits of divesting the state pension from fossil fuels.

--Woodstock may end a major solar energy project because not enough progress has been made.

--A new ad campaign by the supporters of the doomed James A. FitzPatrick nuclear plant is targeted at Gov. Andrew Cuomo and requests he intervene to keep it open.

--New York gets an “A” in Climate Central’s latest ranking of states’ preparedness for climate change.

HAPPY FRIDAY: This newsletter is for you so let us know if you have tips, story ideas or life advice. 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:

MALLOY QUIETLY ENGINEERED GIANT GE TAX FAVOR — Hartford Courant’s Dan Haar: “With the crisis over General Electric's possible exit from Connecticut exploding into national news, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has quietly engineered a very large tax favor for the Fairfield-based company. The favor was buried in the 702-page tax ‘implementer’ bill that lawmakers passed at the end of June with just a few hours to look over before the fiscal year ended. It could be worth tens of millions of dollars; there is no official estimate because it gives tax benefits to GE for many years. Now the question is whether it will help GE keep its headquarters in Connecticut. Malloy is proposing changes to the measure as part of his bill to close this year's budget gap — which could make it even sweeter.”

OIL RIG INDICTMENTS — The Associated Press: “A federal grand jury indicted two companies on involuntary manslaughter charges and three people face charges in a 2012 explosion on an oil production platform in the Gulf of Mexico, the Justice Department said Thursday. The explosion and fire started during welding work on a platform owned by Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC, killing three workers and injuring several others. In lawsuits and a federal report, the company and its contractors have been accused of failing to follow proper safety practices and rushing work. Black Elk Energy and one of its contractors, Grand Isle Shipyard Inc., were charged with three counts of involuntary manslaughter, as well as eight charges involving federal safety practices under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and one violation of the Clean Water Act. Another contractor, Wood Group PSN Inc., and three workers were charged with violating OCSLA and the Clean Water Act. The workers charged are Don Moss, 46, of Groves, Texas; Curtis Dantin, 50, of Cut Off, La.; and Christopher Srubar, 40, of Destrehan, La.”

THE LANGUAGE THAT WE USE: Vox's David Roberts writes how the language we use to discuss global warming is often insufficient in capturing its full scope. For example, while climate change is a national security threat, it is also much more. "Here's the chain: We dig carbon out of the ground, burn it, and release carbon dioxide. It accumulates in the atmosphere, trapping more heat energy close to the planet's surface. That energy increases global average temperature but also has a host of more specific effects on various biophysical systems, differing region to region. In many places, those biophysical changes will increase the probability of disruptions in socioeconomic systems. Seas will rise. Agriculture will suffer. Storms will grow harsher. Inter- and intranational migrations will become more common. Hunger, dislocation, and ideology will mix and lead to violence in some places, simple suffering in others. In the aggregate, there will be more instability; US resources, military and otherwise, will be called upon more often. That's the causal chain from carbon combustion to national security threats. As you can see, it is extremely long and tenuous. In some ways, the climate science is the easiest part to figure out."

STORAGE FINANCIALS IMPROVING: Greentech Media reports that energy storage's standing in the market is improving without a whole lot of government subsidy. The financial consulting firm Lazard released a report indicating the cost of technology has come down significantly in a short period of time. "When calculating megawatt-hour costs, storage doesn't rival renewable generation in its competitiveness with conventional alternatives. But some of the leading technologies are showing the same 'rapid declines' in cost, concluded Lazard. And the downward trend isn't likely to slow any time soon."

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Jeff Goldblum and Funny or Die offer a humorous take on critics of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which is sponsored by the League of Conservation Voters.

TRUMP’S WIND: The Washington Post’s ‘Fix’ blog calls out Donald Trump for pandering to an Iowa voter by suggesting he supports federal subsidies for wind energy. Despite his noncommittal response in the moment, Trump’s feelings on wind are captured in more than 100 tweets on the subject decrying offshore wind as, well, a loser. Several years ago Trump was building a golf course in Scotland and a government-backed offshore wind farm threatened the view. Trump’s course is there now. The wind farm is not.

CANADA TO CHANGE PIPELINE REVIEWS—Bloomberg’s Rebecca Plenty: “Canada plans to outline changes to pipeline reviews in the coming weeks and months as the Liberal government seeks to restore confidence in its regulators. The international community and Canadians want to see a robust environmental assessment process for pipelines, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Tuesday after meeting in Edmonton with provincial and municipal government officials, environmentalists and oil company representatives. ‘We certainly hear the message from industry that certainty is important and the plan isn’t to drag this out over years,’ McKenna told reporters by phone. ‘That is part of my mandate, a very important part of my mandate.’”

ANTI-EPA LAWMAKERS ACCEPTING COAL MONEY — Al Jazeera: “Legislators opposing new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) efforts to mitigate climate change have received large sums of cash from the coal industry, according to an analysis released Thursday by Maplight, an independent research group that tracks the influence of money in politics. Maplight's analysis compared coal industry donations to two groups of senators: those who recently voted to block new EPA regulations designed to limit greenhouse gas and carbon emissions, and those who voted to leave the rules intact. The group of senators who opposed the EPA rules "received, on average, 17 times as much money ($75,802) from the coal mining industry compared to senators voting against them ($4,464)" over the six year period beginning in April 2009 and ending in March of this year, Maplight said in a statement.”

MURRAY COAL FINED — International Business Times: “An administrative law judge is hitting the nation's largest underground coal mining company with a fine and sanctioning its chief executive for interfering with miners’ rights to file anonymous safety complaints with federal regulators. The judge ordered Murray Energy Corp. to stop telling workers to notify management when they make confidential safety complaints to the federal government. In addition to a $150,000 fine, the company’s CEO, Bob Murray, must personally deliver speeches at mines informing workers of their rights, according to the ruling.”


--Oil lags: More stockpiles pressed futures prices lower yet. Soon oil is likely to hit the solid sub-$40 per barrel mark and all hell breaks loose. The Wall Street Journal reports.

“Domestic crude settled down 21 cents, or 0.5%, at $40.54 a barrel. Brent, the global benchmark, rose 4 cents, or 0.1%, to $44.18 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 at **

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