Capital Energy: Capacity zone battle; Brownfield legislation

June 6, 2014 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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P.S.C. KEEPS UP THE FIGHT WITH FERC: Opponents of the Lower Hudson Valley capacity zone were dealt a setback this week when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied a stay of the zone. But the Public Service Commission and Central Hudson Gas Electric have an appeal pending and this week asked the court to expedite a ruling.

POLLUTION REDEVELOPMENT: Unused energy infrastructure, especially gas stations, can be tough to redevelop. State lawmakers are trying to keep alive the Brownfield and Superfund programs that encourage the reuse of those sites in New York. A proposed Assembly bill could help break a stalemate to extend key state pollution mitigation programs that will soon expire or run out of funding. The state’s Brownfield tax credit program is set to expire next year and the Superfund program could run out of money in the next year or two.


  • State agencies differ on United Water’s surcharge request
  • Capital Energy: Court sides with FERC; Eldridge’s energy investments
  • Capital Energy,: Fracking in court; Voltage noodge


CONFLICTING STATE OPINIONS ON UNITED WATER: United Water’s bid to charge ratepayers for the money it has spent on a Haverstraw desalination plant has drawn conflicting opinions from state officials. The Utility Intervention Unit filed papers with the P.S.C. saying the company was at fault for the delays and should not be permitted to charge ratepayers for their costs. The P.S.C. staff argued they should be allowed to exact a surcharge but at 2 percent–not the 8 percent the French-owned utility is requesting.

CITY TRIES TO KEEP PACE WITH ENERGY STORAGE: Energy storage technology is moving slightly faster than public policy, city and business leaders said at a Con Ed Solutions “thought leadership” breakfast on Thursday morning. Gina Bocra, chief sustainability officer at the city’s Department of Buildings, said the current building codes are lagging behind the kinds of large-scale batteries that energy companies are using to prepare for peak demands on the system.”The building codes did not see this coming,” she said. New York City’s one million buildings consume roughly 80 percent of the city’s energy, and the demand on the grid grows more intense each summer. Con Edison has spent $1 billion a year since 2005 preparing its infrastructure for peak demand.


KRUGMAN VS. SILVER, et al: Paul Krugman openly ridicules Roger Pielke Jr., Nate Silver’s pick to write about environment in ‘the new’ 538.

“I’m happy to report that Pielke has a letter in today’s Financial Times about the economics of emissions caps–something I know a fair bit about–that abundantly confirms his bad reputation. Better still, the letter offers a teachable moment, a chance to explain why claims that we can’t limit emissions without destroying economic growth are nonsense.”

RAIL SECRETS: Two railroad companies under a federal order to tell Oregon emergency responders where they move volatile North Dakota crude oil are trying to keep the information from the public, asking the state to sign confidentiality agreements restricting its release to first responders, Rob Davis reports for the Oregonian. That follows a similar move in Washington.

ULSTER COUNTY TO GO RENEWABLE: From the AP: “Ulster County Executive Mike Hein has signed an executive order requiring the county to buy all of its electricity through 2015 from renewable energy sources. Hein said Wednesday that the government must lead by example when it comes to finding alternatives to unsustainable fossil fuels.”

–New York could reduce emissions by blending biodiesel into traditional home heating oil, a new report concludes. Biodiesel would reduce pollution in the form of particulate matter, sulfates and toxins like benzene and formaldehyde, according to the New York Public Interest Research Group.

FRACKING SAVES SCHOOLS MONEY: New York school districts saved $134 million on energy last year by using natural gas and oil fracked in other states, according to a study prepared for the American Petroleum Institute.

PIPELINES VS. WATER: There is a growing conflict between some water systems and pipeline companies, Alexandra Berzon and Alison Sider report for the Wall Street Journal. Environmental activists have long cited drinking-water concerns as a basis for opposing pipelines. But in the past few years, utilities have begun voicing similar worries—in lawsuits and regulatory comments— with the media and on the Web. Officials say they have been motivated by recent high-profile spills in Arkansas, Michigan and elsewhere, as well as by the race to build and upgrade pipelines to accommodate the U.S. oil-and-gas boom brought on by hydraulic fracturing.

Around 31,000 miles of pipelines carrying oil and other hazardous liquids—17 percent of the nation’s total—run through areas where drinking water could be att risk in the event of a spill, according to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. There were 182 pipeline spills in such areas from 2010 through early May—58 of which the agency determined were significant.

FOUR YEARS SINCE B.P. OIL SPILL, FEDS WARN OF A REPEAT: From the New York Times’ Clifford Krauss. “Federal safety regulators warned on Thursday that another disastrous offshore oil well blowout could happen despite regulatory improvements in the four years since a B.P. well explosion in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and dumped millions of gallons of oil into the sea.”

Talk to us. If you have a story in the world of New York energy, we want to hear it. Email tips, scoops, ideas and complaints to swaldman@capitalnewyork.comand Follow us on Twitter at @Giambusso and @scottpwaldman.

FRACKING IN GERMANY: In a potential shift in German energy policy, the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel is preparing a framework that would let energy companies extract oil and natural gas by fracking, Melissa Eddy and Stanley Reed report for the New York Times. Energy companies have been barred from using the technology in recent years, even for conventional gas extraction. The government is responding to pressure from industry and consumers to develop new sources of fuel and reduce Germany’s dependence on gas imported from Russia.

SMALLTOWN SOLAR: The Catskill Town Board is considering a joint venture with the village for a 1-megawatt solar array that would cover all electric usage by both municipalities, William J. Kemble reports for the Kingston Daily Freeman. A ballfield in the Jefferson Heights section of Catskill is being considered for the array. The nearby town of Hunter is considering a similar effort, on a former landfill.

VENEZUELA OIL DOWN: Oil production is plummeting in Venezuela, which is going through a period of political unrest. Yet, the country still has the world’s largest oil reserves, according to the Energy Policy Information Center.

FOOD WASTE INTO ENERGY? NOT YET: The Wall Street Journal looks at flaws in various government plans to recycle food scraps into fuel.



– Domestic and European crude fall: W.T.I. fell for the second straight day as stockpiles of gasoline and other distillates grew, Bloomberg reports. “W.T.I. for July delivery declined as much as 52 cents to $102.12 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $102.27 at 1:11 p.m. London time. The volume of all futures traded was 34 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day. Prices are up 3.9 percent this year. Brent for July settlement decreased as much as 54 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $107.86 a barrel on the London-based I.C.E. Futures Europe exchange … The spread closed at $5.76 yesterday, the narrowest since April.”

– Natural gas is up: Also from Bloomberg. “Natural gas for July delivery rose 6.1 cents to $4.701 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement since May 7. Volume for all futures traded was 4.6 percent above the 100-day average at 2:35 p.m. Prices are up 11 percent this year.”

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