Capital Energy,: Fracking in court; Voltage noodge

June 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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FRACKING AT THE HIGH COURT: One of the most significant decisions on hydrofracking in New York is expected later this summer after oral arguments on the Dryden and Middlefield cases were heard Tuesday at the Court of Appeals.

Dryden and Middlefield, which each have a population under 2,000, banned oil and gas drilling within their borders in 2011. Energy companies sued, arguing that community zoning laws don’t overrule the state’s oil and gas solution laws that protect mining activity. The case largely hinges on whether local zoning laws are considered a regulation of the oil and gas industry.


  • Con Ed predicts another record-breaking summer
  • Capital Energy: Oil train bill; Fracking ban on trial
  • EPA announces new carbon rules


Arguments were heard for an hour, and both sides were questioned with an equal intensity by the judges. They repeatedly cut off the lawyers mid-sentence with tough questions and did not leave any definitive clues as to how they might rule. On the energy company side, the judges kept returning to the question of why communities should be prevented from controlling what happens in their own jurisdictions. Attorneys for the towns were asked why they should be allowed to override state law by declaring a ban a zoning issue.

– NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and Otsego Councilwoman Julie Huntsman wrote an op-ed in the Times Union supporting the town of Dryden’s bid to ban hydraulic fracturing. Stringer, along with the group, “Elected Officials to Protect New York,” filed an amicus brief in support of Dryden.

THE VOLTAGE NOODGE: Longtime newspaper reporter and utilities expert Bill Sanderson writes in the June edition of Capital Magazine about Roger Lane, the man who pushed Con Edison to conduct citywide, stray voltage sweeps after his daughter, Jodie Lane, was killed when she stepped on a live electric box in 2004. Now, after a Harlem gas explosion killed eight people earlier this year, the utility will use the same trucks it deploys to detect stray voltage to sniff out gas leaks.

STATE LAWSUIT THREAT: The state Department of Environmental Conservation is threatening to seek sanctions against a public housing community group and environmental organizations if they sue the department over its review of a crude oil storage facility in Albany. Environmental groups want the state to conduct a full environmental review of a crude oil heating facility proposed by Global Companies LLC. Earthjustice and the Pace Environmental Law Clinic have threatened to sue the D.E.C. and Global if the more extensive review is not granted.

CON ED PREDICTS A SCORCHER: Con Edison is spending $1.3 billion this year to get New York City and Westchester ready for a summer of unprecedented demand on the energy grid. In a release issued yesterday, the utility predicted surpassing last year’s record-breaking peak electricity usage of 13,322 megawatts for its service area, estimating 13,675 megawatts will be used at peak this year. Last year’s peak demand came on July 19 at 5 p.m.


EMISSIONS COSTS: The actual cost of the new federal limits on greenhouse-gas emissions depends on whether Americans are going to use more electricity in coming years or cut way back, Amy Harder and Cassandra Sweet write for the Wall Street Journal. The EPA assumes electricity consumption will drop sharply. That plays a significant role in the agency’s calculation of the cost of complying with new rules to slash the carbon emissions from the utility industry. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce puts the costs at closer to $28 billion a year.

OBAMA’S EPA LEGACY PLAY: (via Politico) If the E.P.A.’s proposed carbon emission standards released Monday are actually put in place next year, it will become one of President Obama’s biggest legacy achievements and one of the most significant actions the federal government has ever taken on climate change. And the White House’s calculated decision to make sure it didn’t seem like a big deal for Obama was all part of the plan. Edward-Isaac Dovere:

EMISSION RULES SCARING DEMS: Obama’s climate team met with Senate Democrats behind closed doors on Tuesday to rally support for the new emissions rules that have divided the party, Laura Barron-Lopez writes for The Hill.

Climate adviser John Podesta and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough sought to calm a Senate Democratic conference worried about how the rules would play out in this fall’s battle for the Senate.

– W.S.J. op-ed says with carbon rules, Democrats have abandoned manufacturing: “The richer coasts dominated by gentry liberals now trump the union jobs of the Midwest. Finance (New York and San Francisco) is more honored than manufacturing (Ohio and Indiana), notwithstanding the vestigial Democratic rhetoric about “made in America.” Tom Steyer of Farallon Capital fame has trounced Cecil Roberts of the United Mine Workers.”

U.S. IMPOSES TARIFFS ON CHINESE SOLAR PANELS: The New York Times’ Diane Cardwell writes that the U.S., citing unfair manufacturer subsidies, will charge an 18.56 percent to 35.21 percent tariff on panels imported from China.

DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS: The E.P.A.’s carbon reduction goals for Texas would represent more than 25 percent of the nation’s total reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as the state is the top emitter of greenhouse gases, Bloomberg reports. Gov. Rick Perry said, “These rules will only further stifle our economy’s sluggish recovery and increase energy costs for American families.”

– Texan fracking ban: Another town in Texas, long known as an oil producing region, is considering a fracking ban.

RENEWABLE ON THE RISE: Renewable energy capacity grew by 8.3% last year, accounting for more than half of the net increase to global power supply, writes Sophie Yeo on “Developing countries such as China and India were the main drivers in the expansion of renewable energy last year, and 95 developing countries now provide government support for renewables, a six-fold increase from almost a decade ago.”

GREEN BONDS TO SURPASS $40B WORLDWIDE: From Bloomberg: “With more than $16.6 billion issued worldwide this year, 2014 is on track to surpass $40 billion in green bonds as more companies issue the debt to finance clean energy projects, according to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That’s only about 1 percent of the total $1.4 trillion U.S. corporate bond market, as asset-backed securities and self-labeled corporate bonds surge, the London-based research company said in a report yesterday.”

GAS NOT SO HIGH: Gas prices are not following their normal seasonal behavior, Andy Kiersz reports for Business Insider. Usually, prices rise sharply through the first few months of the year, reaching a plateau during the summer when demand peaks. But, as this chart from the note shows, while gas prices are rising, they are doing so at a much slower rate than in the past. The chart shows both the historical trend of prices rising about 25% from January to May, and the current 2014 increase of about 12%.

BUYING SOLAR IN BULK: A new solar purchasing cooperative has been formed in Troy, Brian Nearing reports for the Times Union. The more installations that are done, the greater the amount of rebate that would be paid to homeowners and businesses that add solar panels, he said. The group estimates the average cost of a system — which can total $25,000 before state and federal rebates — could be 25 percent less by using the cooperative rather than buying as an individual.

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.



– Oil rises with increased demand: Domestic crude recovered yesterday after a morning dip, writes the Wall Street Journal’s Timothy Puko. “Light, sweet crude for July delivery settled up 19 cents, or 0.2%, to $102.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on ICE Futures Europe also rallied late to settle up 0.2 cent, or 0.02%, to $108.85 a barrel.”

– Gasoline is down: Also from Puko’s report: “Front-month July reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, settled down 0.12 cent, or 0.04%, to $2.9487 a gallon. July diesel declined 1.15 cents, or 0.4%, to $2.8658 a gallon.”

– Natural gas almost hits a four-week high, W.S.J. reports: “Prices for the front-month July contract settled up 1.7 cents, or 0.4%, at $4.629 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That was the highest closing price since May 7, after which prices dropped down a tier from the $4.70/mmBtu price they had spent several days at.”

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