Capital Energy: Digging in on downstate market tweak

May 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

By Scott Waldman and David Giambusso

Good morning! Welcome to Capital Energy, your daily guide to news on the manufacture, consumption and regulation of energy in New York. Sign up here.

FERC FALLOUT: The ruling by FERC to forge ahead on New York’s capacity zone drew praise and recrimination yesterday as utility customers in the Lower Hudson Valley prepare for a spike in electricity costs. State leaders decried FERC’s ruling while industry insiders said the move was long due. For now, utility customers downstate will start to see a significant spike in their bills as soon as next month.

POWER PLANT FIGHT: A Hudson Valley power plant once sold for scrap then slated for reopening is now caught in the middle of an ownership dispute, according to records filed with state regulators. Helios Power Capital LLC. has proposed repairing, and returning the Danskammer Generating Facility in Orange County to operation. But lawyers for George Helle III have asked the Public Service Commission for a stay in the decision to reopen the plant until a Texas court case over the ownership of Helios has been decided. The lawsuit over ownership, in which Helle says he is entitled to 50 percent of the company, was filed a month before the request to repower Danskammer. Helle had a partnership agreement with Helios co-owner Allen Lawrence Berry that fell apart without his knowledge, state documents show.


  • Capital Energy: FERC says no; NY’s wood pellet loss
  • FERC will not delay Lower Hudson capacity zone
  • Capital Energy: New NYPA exec, clean energy jobs decline, ‘restless’ about oil trains


BILL WOULD CAP RENEWABLE FUNDING: A state senator from Syracuse pushed a bill on Wednesday that would cap utility bill surcharges used to grow New York’s clean energy programs. Republican Senator John DeFrancisco said New York businesses cannot afford to pay an increasing amount of fees on their utility bills, and that his bill would cap surcharges at 2014 rates. Though energy efficiency and renewable energy programs collected about $900 million from ratepayers last year and are growing at a rate of $200 million annually, DeFrancisco said the bill, which was sponsored by Senator George Maziarz, will limit the surcharges for the renewable portfolio standard and the system benefit charge that appear on monthly energy bills. “I’m trying to make this other than the last business-friendly state,” he said during a finance committee hearing where the bill was approved. “So people can get jobs other than in the Legislature and in news.”

NEW HEAD FOR GREEN GROUP: The Alliance for Clean Energy New York has appointed Anne Reynolds as its executive director. ACENY is an Albany-based nonprofit dedicated to “promoting clean energy, a healthy environment and a strong economy for New York.” Reynolds was most recently deputy commissioner at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

TODAY: Columbia Law School hosts the EPA region 2 conference from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Speakers include EPA regional staff; Marc Gerstman, Executive Deputy Commissioner, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Bob Martin Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Emily Lloyd, Commissioner, New York City Department of Environmental Protection.


NUCLEAR REACTOR’S CASINO MOVE: Schenectady officials are confident a small nuclear reactor that has been in the city since the 1950s will be decommissioned and moved off a 60-acre site being considered for a casino, Bethany Bump reports for the Daily Gazette. But the owner of the reactor, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is less confident—at least publicly. Casino officials say they’ll move forward no matter what.

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 and Follow us on Twitter at @Giambusso and @scottpwaldman.


NEW OIL TRAIN REPORT: A new report from a clean energy advocacy group called Oil Change International traces the movements of crude-by-rail across the country. Its shows an infrastructure of virtual pipelines that move 1 million barrels a day to the East Coast every day.

ICYMI (Because we forgot to put it in yesterday’s letter): The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management took another step Tuesday to develop an offshore wind energy project 11 nautical miles south of Long Beach, N.Y., from Capital:

ARBOR AWARDS: National Grid was honored by The Arbor Day Foundation for the 15th year running after meeting arboricultural standards such as “annual worker training sessions; tree-planting and public education programs; maintenance of a tree-based energy conservation program; and participation in an Arbor Day celebration.”

CHAMBER SAYS CLIMATE RULES WILL COST A FORTUNE: (via Politico) “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a preemptive strike Wednesday against the Obama administration’s upcoming climate change regulations. In a report issued just days before the administration unveils its carbon emissions rules for existing power plants, the business group says the proposal, when paired with a separate measure limiting greenhouse gas emissions from future plants, would be a disaster for the economy.” More from Andrew Restuccia:

E.P.A. SAYS ‘COST OF INACTION’ REAL THREAT TO ECONOMY: In direct response to the Chamber’s report, the E.P.A. on Wednesday pushed back, saying in a statement: “Critics have tried for years to convince people that more pollution equals more jobs and a better economy, but history has proved them wrong over and over again.”

CHEAP OR NOT: Paul Krugman weighs the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s attack report on power plant regulations, and finds he agrees with it, though he draws different conclusions.

RENEWABLE ROLLBACK: The Ohio House of Representatives approved a bill on Wednesday that would roll back the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency law, making Ohio the first state to reverse standards meant to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, Kate Sheppard reports for the Huffington Post.

KEYSTONE COMPANY DISPUTES MANDATES: The company behind Keystone XL disputed a claim that federal regulators imposed new safety mandates on its contentious, long-delayed pipeline in response to repairs conducted along the project’s southern leg without drawing attention to an array of spill-prevention measures it vowed to consider following a third-party risk analysis supported by U.S. E.P.A., Elana Schor reports for EnergyWire.

SOUND FAMILIAR? The debate over fracking has intensified in western Canada as the government eyes exports to Asia, Kate Galbraith writes in the New York Times. It’s the same fight that has been playing out in New York for at least six years. Production increased about 40 percent from 2008 to 2013. But drillers have trouble selling the gas to one of their mainstay markets, the United States, because of a parallel American gas boom, so now they are looking overseas.

“What is clear is that British Columbia is a case study of competing priorities—determination to battle climate change on the one hand, and eagerness to take advantage of a job-creating energy bonanza on the other.”

BARCLAYS’ SOLAR WARNING: Once a reliable investment, Barclays warned that utilities may soon become less so as solar energy and better energy storage permeate the market, from

TORNADO DAMAGES REFINERY: From the Wall Street Journal:One of the largest oil refineries in the U.S. was damaged Wednesday morning when a tornado touched down in Garyville, La., the plant’s owner said. Marathon Petroleum Corp., which runs the refinery, confirmed the 522,000-barrel-a-day plant sustained storm damage that is still being assessed. The company had to shut down one of the refinery’s crude distillation units, but a second unit continues to operate.”

PRICE OF OIL IS DOWN, AP reports: “The price of oil fell below $103 barrel Wednesday as traders expected the Energy Department to report an increase in U.S. supplies.Benchmark crude for July delivery dropped $1.39 to close at $102.72 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell 21 cents to $109.81 on the ICE exchange in London.”

HIGH ON NATURAL GAS: Anticipated higher-than-normal temperatures in coming weeks means increased electricity. That sent the price of gas to a five-week high, W.S.J.’s Timothy Puko reports: “Prices for the front-month June contract settled up 11.4 cents, or 2.5%, to $4.619 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The June contract expired Wednesday. The more actively traded July contract settled up 10.4 cents, or 2.3%, to $4.615/mmBtu.”


—An Albany-based group working against ongoing crude oil train shipments into the Capital Region is working with a West Coast environmental group to hold a local vigil on the July 6 anniversary of a crude oil train explosion that killed 47 people in a small Quebec town last year.

— A Dunkirk plastic packaging manufacturer is getting 500 kilowatts of low-cost hydropower from the New York Power Authority for an expansion project that is expected to create 10 new jobs.

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