By David Giambusso and Marie J. French | 04/20/2017 09:57 AM EDT
ABOUT LAST NIGHT: NYSERDA president and CEO John Rhodes addressed a cheerful gathering of geothermal industry members, environmental advocates for the technology and some of his colleagues from NYSERDA after they chowed down on chicken and fish. Rhodes spoke after NY-GEO executive director Bill Nowak reviewed the "roller coaster" of the year for the industry at their annual conference at the Radisson on Wolf Road. The geothermal industry has been reeling from the loss of a federal tax credit at the end of last year. Rhodes highlighted NYSERDA's support for the industry, including a $15 million, two-year incentive program announced in February. Coining a new phrase for "soon," Rhodes said those incentives would be finalized and available "in a tiny number of months." But Rhodes also sounded a note of caution for the industry, warning them that those incentives were investments and wouldn't continue indefinitely: "If it's investment that the state can make that moves the market forward so that incentives are no longer needed, we're going to like it a lot. If it's an incentive that you're going to come back and ask for again and again, we're not going to like it," he said. "We are looking to make investments, not provide incentives."
— Rhodes said NYSERDA is also working on a customer and community aggregation program to increase awareness and drive demand for geothermal and will soon launch a $100 million program with NYPA to get big customers — particularly college campuses — to install large geothermal systems.
— On whether geothermal needs incentives like a thermal renewable energy credits (TRECs) to compete with other, cheaper technologies: "If we thought that cost parity for this solution was forever out of reach, we probably wouldn't have geothermal heat pumps on our agenda." Rhodes said the two-year incentive program gives NYSERDA and the state time to figure out a "successor instrument."
— OFFSHORE WIND: In a casual aside, Rhodes hinted at how the state could encourage massive offshore wind development, a key goal set by the governor: "We love NY-SUN. You shouldn't be surprised if you see offshore wind have a block design."
— On integrated design, or combining various renewable technologies like solar, storage, efficiency and geothermal: Rhodes reiterated the administration's desire to be "technology agnostic" in its push to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. But, he said some technologies aren't mature enough to survive and could get "left off the bus" if they don't get targeted support. Programs focused on solar and storage that are indifferent as to how much of each technology is in the system, among others, will roll out "in a tiny number of months," Rhodes said. "We ought not to care what flavor the solutions come in."
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EJ GROUPS PUSH FOR NYC ACTION AMID TRUMP ROLLBACKS — POLITICO New York's David Giambusso: The New York City Environmental Justice Alliance is releasing a report this week pushing for more aggressive city action on energy and environment issues as President Donald Trump's administration looks to shutter a catalog of programs designed to help the poor and the environment." Read more here.
SAIL ON WASHINGTON — POLITICO New York's Marie J. French: Hudson River Sloop Clearwater will sail to Washington in June in support of federal water protections and in opposition to the Trump administration's proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and other programs. Read more here.
AROUND NEW YORK:
— The biggest contractor in Hoosick Falls is suing Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International, saying PFOA contamination had such devastating impact on its business that employees had to be let go and as it struggles to make money.
— Massachusetts is on track to score a renewable energy win over New York, according to Moody's Investors Service.
— The Erie County Water Authority board hired a law firm on an "emergency" basis late last year, agreeing to pay its lawyers an hourly rate of $400 to $435 an hour but won't say why.
— Con Ed revised a plan to bring power to Staten Island's NY Wheel, Lighthouse Point and Empire Outlets after Borough President Jimmy Oddo said the plan was giving residents "agita."
— There are still concerns about water quality in the state even after lawmakers secured $2.5 billion in funding.
— General Electric Co. plans to demolish its main manufacturing building in Fort Edward where capacitors were made and, decades ago, PCBs were dumped into the Hudson River.
— Deteriorated bolts at the Indian Point nuclear plant's Unit 3 reactor were replaced during a refueling outage.
— As of this week, 7,000 gallons of diesel oil — of the 27,000 spilled by a private fuel depot — have been recovered from the Gravesend Bay using concentric booms.
— Wayne County issued a state of emergency Wednesday for all bays and harbors along Lake Ontario and other waterways.
— A Moreau car dealership is accused of running an illegal junkyard.
— Lake George has received a grant to help cut stormwater runoff and protect the lake.
— The Solar Energy Industries Association recently released a white paper on the grid modernization efforts in New York and California.
— Erie County's air earned a good grade for its low amount of soot pollution but received a barely passing mark for smog pollution in the American Lung Association's annual air quality report.
— The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York installed solar panels on two warehouses that are expected to yield savings of $520,000 over 25 years.
— NYSERDA announces $15.5 million for energy storage projects.
— GOLDEN SNOWBALL UPSET: Binghamton will cling to its narrow lead over Syracuse and take this year's title among upstate New York cities.
— VIDEO: A fast-forward look at the construction of the new Tappan Zee bridge.
** A message from the Independent Power Producers of New York: Learn more about emerging energy policy at IPPNY's 31st Annual Spring Conference on May 9 & 10 at the all-new Albany Capital Center in downtown Albany! Hear from state and federal energy policy leaders, and join in on two great panel discussions. Register Now! **
EPA BUYOUT OFFERS — Washington Post's Brady Dennis: "The Environmental Protection Agency said this week that it would begin the process of shrinking its 15,000-employee workforce through buyouts, in the wake of President Trump's executive order last month aimed at streamlining agencies throughout the federal government." Read more here.
METHANE ROLLBACK — Bloomberg's Catherine Traywick: "U.S. environmental chief Scott Pruitt plans to roll back an Obama-era methane rule expected to cost oil and natural gas operators $320 to $530 million a year." Read more here.
DAKOTA BEGINNING TO DISRUPT OIL TRAINS — Reuters' Jarrett Renshaw: "Philadelphia Energy Solutions Inc, the largest refiner on the U.S. East Coast, will not be taking any rail deliveries of North Dakota's Bakken crude oil in June, a source familiar with delivery schedules said on Tuesday - a sign that the impending start of the Dakota Access Pipeline is upending trade flows." Read more here.
ENERGY COMPANIES DONATED BIGLY TO TRUMP INAUGURATION — USA Today's Fredreka Schouten: "President Trump, who has moved quickly to sweep aside environmental regulations he says curtail U.S. energy production, took in more than $8 million from energy interests to help underwrite his Jan. 20 inauguration, according to a USA TODAY analysis of a newly filed inaugural report." Read more here.
EXXON LOOKING FOR SANCTIONS WAIVER TO DRILL IN RUSSIA — The New York Times' Clifford Krauss: "Exxon Mobil is pursuing a waiver from Treasury Department sanctions on Russia so it may drill in the Black Sea in a venture with the Russian state oil company Rosneft, a former State Department official said Wednesday." Read more here.
TILLERSON: IRAN DEAL A FAILURE — NBC News' Josh Lederman: "Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared the Iran nuclear deal a failure on Wednesday but left open the possibility the Trump administration will uphold it nonetheless." Read more here.
KANSAS NIXES $12.2B UTILITY SALE — The Associated Press' John Hanna: "Kansas regulators on Wednesday rejected the proposed sale of the state's largest electric company to a Missouri firm in a $12.2 billion deal that critics argued would financially hobble the combined utility." Read more here.
WALMART LOOKS TO CUT 1B TONS OF CARBON FROM SUPPLY CHAIN — Fast Company's Ben Schiller: "[Walmart's] new initiative, called Project Gigaton, aims to cut greenhouse emissions by one billion tons across its supply chain by 2030." Read more here.
EXXON'S MASSIVE CRACKER PLANT — Corpus Christi Caller-Time's Chris Ramirez: "Petroleum giant ExxonMobil Corp. says it wants to build the world's largest ethylene cracker plant in San Patricio County." Read more here.
PLASTIC, PLASTIC EVERYWHERE — The New York Times' Tatiana Schlossberg: "The world's oceans are littered with trillions of pieces of plastic — bottles, bags, toys, fishing nets and more, mostly in tiny particles — and now this seaborne junk is making its way into the Arctic." Read more here.
MAPPING ANTARCTIC WATERS — Atlantic's Robinson Meyer: "The first-ever hydrological survey of Antarctica has just been completed, and it found nearly 700 streams, ponds, and waterfalls, a sprawling and active meltwater drainage system never previously documented." Read more here.
OUR FUTURE HOME — New York Times' Dennis Overbye: "A prime planet listing has just appeared on the cosmic real estate market, possibly the most promising place yet to search for signs of life beyond the solar system, the astronomers who discovered it say." Read more here.
— Oil took a dive as government data showed a lot of gasoline on the market, The Wall Street Journal reports.
— Natural gas was buoyed by the prospect of cooler temperatures, the Journal reports.
** A message from the Independent Power Producers of New York: Experts discuss the changing landscape in energy and environmental policy! Don't miss out on this year's IPPNY conference, featuring Acting Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and two great panel discussions. Talking President Trump and energy policy will be Tommy P. Beaudreau of Latham Watkins LLP, Kit Kennedy of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and James Taylor of the Spark of Freedom Foundation, and moderator Diane X. Burman of the New York State Public Service Commission. Joining us to talk about valuing "carbon" in the market place are Samuel A. Newell of the Brattle Group, Raymond L. Gifford of Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP, Romany Webb of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, and moderator Suedeen G. Kelly of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP - and a former FERC Commissioner. Register today to make sure you are part of the discussion! **
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