By Marie J. French and David Giambusso | 10/10/2017 09:57 AM EDT
TRANSMISSION RISKS FOR HYDROPOWER — POLITICO New York's Marie J. French: Transmission constraints and declining regional demand for electricity threaten to limit use of NYPA's oldest hydroelectric dam even as the state seeks to boost renewable energy. The half-mile long Moses-Saunders Power Dam, completed in 1958, connects the U.S. and Canada across the St. Lawrence River. The U.S. side of the dam, which houses 16 turbines near this town of 13,000 people in St. Lawrence County, is operated by the New York Power Authority and generates between 700 and 1,000 megawatts hourly. About 65 percent of NYPA's output from the Moses-Saunders dam is contracted for, including by the authority's last remaining large industrial customer, Alcoa. But if the demand for electricity in the North Country continues to decline — the closure of Alcoa would be particularly devastating — then NYPA projects 500 gigawatt hours of generation with nowhere to go. And it could get worse when new wind resources come online to help meet Gov. Andrew Cuomo's goal of 50 percent of electricity coming from renewables by 2030. "Even the current level of renewable penetration in the region is beginning to create inefficiencies and system conditions that limit renewable output," NYPA wrote in a filing with the state's New York Independent System Operator arguing for new transmission capability to bring power from the North Country downstate. Transmission limits would reduce the energy the Moses-Saunders dam captures as water headed northeastward toward Montreal flows through the turbines at 300 cubic meters per second, driving the metal shaft that connects with a generator spinning inside of the dam. Read more here.
LAND BANK WORRIES RISE — Albany Times Union's Rick Karlin: "Although frequently opposed, environmental and pro-development groups are backing a proposal on the November ballot calling for a constitutional amendment to create a land bank allowing right-of-way and other infrastructure improvements in the Adirondack Park. There appears to be little opposition to the plan, even among groups that often oppose changes to the region's Forever Wild rules. But that's no guarantee the proposal will pass when it goes before voters on Nov. 7. The ballot will also include proposals to allow a constitutional convention and another that would strip public officers and employees all or part of their pensions if convicted of certain felony offenses. Some supporters of the Adirondack land bank plan fear voters will be swayed by the drumbeat of opposition to the more contentious proposal — to allow a constitutional convention — and simply vote 'no' to all three measures." Read more here.
— The New York Times' Lisa Foderaro: "At least two dozen projects (for local infrastructure in the Adirondacks) have gone to the voters statewide in the past century; most have passed. But getting a proposal on the statewide ballot requires approval by two successive state Legislatures, tying up scant resources on the part of rural towns and villages that must press their case in Albany. In those cases, the towns typically compensated the state by adding more forest preserve land than they took ... But many more towns put off such projects or, to avoid traversing the preserve, reroute projects through private lands, sometimes cutting down many trees in the process." Read more here.
SCHUMER PUSHES EPA ON HOTSPOTS — Buffalo News' Mark Sommer: "Sen. Charles E. Schumer on Monday called on the Environmental Protection Agency to resume cleanup efforts of radioactive locations in Lewiston and Niagara Falls, warning they still pose a serious threat to public health." Read more here.
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AROUND NEW YORK:
— Several dozen fishermen, women and lawmakers last week urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make good on a promise to sue the federal government over New York's disproportionately low share of the fluke fishery.
— The state is putting up millions of dollars to help protect the legendary clear waters of Lake George from an aging sewage plant in the village that dates to the 1930s. Meanwhile, Queensbury is considering tighter regulations for the critical residential zone next to the lake.
— There was a rise in Lyme disease cases in New York this year but it wasn't "Tickmaggedon."
— The Southampton Town Board is considering litigation against the makers of chemicals that have contaminated wells in the Hampton Bays Water District.
— OPINION: Newsday's Michael Dobie writes an ode to offshore wind and its potential for Long Island.
— There was another sewage discharge from the wastewater treatment plant near Niagara Falls.
— Former EPA regional administrator Judith Enck has been traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of recent hurricanes to help advise the territory's governor.
— PSEG Long Island increased its ranking in a recent two-month snippet of a leading customer satisfaction survey to the highest level since taking over management of the LIPA system in 2014.
— LETTER: New York AREA's Jerry Kremer says giving lawmakers the power to set utility rates is a bad idea.
— LETTERS: Reacting to an op-ed by Kremer about Indian Point's closure, New York City area residents argue that renewables are the way to go in replacing it.
— Opponents of the Crestwood gas storage project near Seneca Lake are gearing up for another round.
— Clean drinking water is a priority in the Ulster County executive's budget.
— EDITORIAL: The Watertown Daily Times asks where the local jobs from wind projects are.
— Hoosick Falls residents who have advocated for the village in the wake of its PFOA water contamination crisis traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to protest the appointment of a former chemical company consultant to the EPA.
— NYPA's Gil Quiniones met with Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault at the International Friendship Monument, located in the middle of the Robert Moses-Robert H. Saunders Dam.
— Tons of lawn clippings and other organic waste could be processed indoors in Smithtown's industrial zones.
CLEAN POWER PLAN REPEAL SET — The New York Times' Lisa Friedman and Brad Plumer: "The Trump administration announced Monday that it would take formal steps to repeal President Barack Obama's signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, setting up a bitter fight over the future of America's efforts to tackle global warming." Read more here.
— From E&E News' Robin Bravender: "But the rule won't merely disappear once Pruitt signs the proposal to rescind it. [Today]'s move kicks off what promises to be a long regulatory process, while political and legal fights over the rule and a possible replacement will continue." Read more here.
— Pruitt also wants to get rid of tax incentives for wind and solar energy, Bloomberg reports.
CALIFORNIA ENGULFED — Los Angeles Times: "At least 1,500 homes, businesses and other structures have been destroyed as more than 14 fires ravaged eight counties throughout Northern California late Sunday and Monday morning, authorities said." Read more here.
PHOTO ESSAY: The struggles in Flint, Michigan, where drinking water was contaminated with lead, are not over.
TESLA'S HANDCRAFTED CARS — The Wall Street Journal's Tim Higgins: " Tesla Inc. blamed 'production bottlenecks' for having made only a fraction of the promised 1,500 Model 3s, the $35,000 sedan designed to propel the luxury electric-car maker into the mainstream. Unknown to analysts, investors and the hundreds of thousands of customers who signed up to buy it, as recently as early September major portions of the Model 3 were still being banged out by hand, away from the automated production line, according to people familiar with the matter." Read more here.
PUERTO RICO'S STRUGGLE — The Wall Street Journal's Arian Campo-Flores: "More than two weeks after Maria, only about 11% of customers have had electricity restored. Compounding the challenge are the antiquated conditions of the grid and the financial straits of the government-owned utility that runs it—the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or Prepa, declared a form of bankruptcy in July." Read more here.
CHINA FORGES AHEAD ON ELECTRIC CARS — The New York Times' Keith Bradsher: "There is a powerful reason that automakers worldwide are speeding up their efforts to develop electric vehicles — and that reason is China. Propelled by vast amounts of government money and visions of dominating next-generation technologies, China has become the world's biggest supporter of electric cars." Read more here.
OFFSHORE WIND'S POTENTIAL — The Washington Post's Chris Mooney: "New research published on Monday finds there is so much wind energy potential over oceans that it could theoretically be used to generate 'civilization scale power' — assuming, that is, that we are willing to cover enormous stretches of the sea with turbines, and can come up with ways to install and maintain them in often extreme ocean environments." Read more here.
NATIONS SPEND TO PROTECT ARCTIC TOWNS — Bloomberg's Adam Popescu: "Erosion, landslides, and tsunamis are common above the Arctic Circle. It's a natural consequence of the seasonal expansion and retraction of the ice. As the permafrost melts and waves batter communities, millions are spent annually on beach berms and port defenses in a losing battle to protect the area." Read more here.
GERMANY'S TRANSITION STALLS — The New York Times' Stanley Reed: "Over the past two decades, Germany has focused its political will and treasure on a world-leading effort to wean its powerful economy off the traditional energy sources blamed for climate change. The benefits of the program have not been universally felt, however. A de facto class system has emerged, saddling a group of have-nots with higher electricity bills that help subsidize the installation of solar panels and wind turbines elsewhere." Read more here.
— Oil prices rose Monday as Saudi Arabia announced it would further curtail oil exports, The Wall Street Journal reports.
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