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8/31/2012
State Energy Board Lays Out Roadmap for Shuttering Indian Point
A new report on the state’s energy transmission system has something of a rough roadmap for replacing the Indian Point Energy Center tucked deep inside.

The state Energy Planning Board unanimously approved a final draft of the report on Thursday. The board, which includes representatives from various state agencies and appointments from the governor and Legislature, is charged with coming up with a comprehensive energy plan by March.

On page 85 of the 111-page analysis of the transmission system, the report expresses confidence in the state’s ability to replace the 2,000-megawatt capacity of Indian Point’s two nuclear reactors.

“The State is actively involved in the (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) relicensing proceedings and has mechanisms in place to address reliability impacts and implement solutions in the event the units do not receive their operating license renewals,” the report reads.

The two NRC licenses for the Buchanan, Westchester County, facility are due to expire in 2013 and 2015, and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Gov. Andrew Cuomo favor closing the nuclear plant.

(Click to read the entire article)
8/29/2012
Shell gas tax breaks could impact local government
A billion-dollar tax break for a proposed Shell petrochemical facility in western Pennsylvania would cut property tax revenue, but local officials still want the plant.

The school district could lose $275,000 in property taxes and the rural township of Potter could lose about 7 percent of its annual budget under a state tax incentives package, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Wednesday.

Local officials gave those figures to members of the House Appropriations Committee at a hearing Tuesday night in Monaca, which is about 40 miles north of Pittsburgh.

That’s where Shell hopes to build a multibillion-dollar petrochemical plant to convert natural gas into more profitable chemicals. Shell has identified the site as its first choice in the region, but it hasn’t made a final decision to build.

(Click to read the entire article)
The electric grid: Extreme power risks
Extreme weather is putting America’s power grid to the test, with a yearlong run of violent storms and record heat battering a system built for fairer skies.

As the eastern United States struggles to recover from yet another weather shock, energy officials are acknowledging climate change as a force that finally has to be reckoned with – even as concern grows over other threats that can set off catastrophic blackouts.

Winter storms, chains of heat waves and late June’s “super derecho” — a thunderstorm with straight-line winds that snapped electrical transmission towers and shredded power poles — have forced the climate change issue and electric supply vulnerability to the top of an already-daunting list of blackout triggers. Those threats range from computer-hacking cyberterrorists to solar flares, utility mistakes and plain bad luck.

Regulators in the U.S. hope to avoid the kind of cascading grid failure that hit India in late July, leaving some 600 million — almost 10 percent of the world’s population — without power. Miners were trapped underground. Trains shut down. Unimaginable traffic snarls popped up across the country. And India’s image as a rising economic power was cast in darkness.

(Click to read the entire article)
8/27/2012
State GOP senators oppose Canada power line
More than a dozen New York senators in the Republican majority are opposing a plan to bring hydropower from Quebec to New York City.

The 13 Republicans and one senator from the Independent Democratic Conference say the 330-mile power line would end up sending jobs from the state. They also say it will make New York even more reliant on other countries for energy at the expense of its own power industry.

The proposal by Transmission Developers Inc. promises to reduce power plant air pollution in New York City while easing costs in the city and making the state less bound to the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County.

The opposition senators are led by Sen. George Maziarz of Niagara County, the state’s richest source of hydropower.

Source
8/23/2012
Anti-hydrofrackers turning up the heat on Cuomo
As the state Department of Environmental Conservation continues to prepare its final recommendations on hydrofracking, anti-hydrofracking activists are ramping up their efforts aimed at Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The past week has seen a number of scheduled protests and rallies pop up, as well as a television advertisement targeting Cuomo that launched in the Southern Tier yesterday.

Yesterday, dozens of protesters stood across the street from a policy conference hosted by Cuomo and the state Democratic Committee, hoisting mock campaign signs that read “Don’t Frack New York.” Two of them crashed the conference and staged a demonstration before they were escorted out.

Today, New Yorkers Against Fracking—a coalition of anti-fracking groups—was in suburban Syracuse, where they lined the entrance for the opening of The Great New York State Fair. (The photo at left is from the coalition’s Facebook page.) Opening day has traditionally known as Governor’s Day, where the state’s chief executive tours the fairgrounds and officially cuts the ribbon.

Next week will bring two other events staged by the activists. On Monday, several groups will march across downtown Albany, making stops at the DEC headquarters and the state Capitol along the way.

(Click to read the entire article)
8/22/2012
Cuomo’s Fracking Plan: Politics Trumps Science
Two months ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo confidently promised a rapid roll out of his plan to introduce high-volume fracking to New York State in a few rural upstate counties.

But his trial balloon for the initiative drew intense negative reactions, to which the governor has responded with dead silence. That has left both sides of the natural gas drilling debate wondering whether Cuomo will stick with the plan that all but flopped in its public test or go back to the drawing board.

“The political blowback on this has been immense,” said state Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, a Democrat from Ithaca. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my 10 years in the state Assembly and 14 years as legislative chief of staff.”

To move forward as planned, Cuomo, a Democrat, will have to contend with opposition from a strong majority in the Democratically-controlled Assembly, a frustrated state medical community, disillusioned scientists and even a nascent civil disobedience movement.

(Click to read the entire article)
8/10/2012
PSC study draws power industry critics
Power plant owners are pushing back at a proposal by state regulators to require annual financial reports with the state that haven't been required since the 1990s.

The state Public Service Commission has been asking for industry members and consumer groups to submit comments on a plan to require the financial disclosures after the issue was brought up last year by New York City Assemblyman James Brennan.

Brennan had been looking into the financial condition of the Indian Point nuclear power plant when he discovered the PSC had dropped requirements that power plants file annual reports.

The policy was changed in 1991 after the commission recognized that power plants were already obligated to make financial disclosures to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.

(Click to read the entire article)
8/09/2012
Coalition Pushes Cuomo, Others, on Greenhouse-Gas Cap
A coalition of environmentalists, renewable energy advocates, elected officials and national groups released a letter today that was delivered to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, calling on him to back changes to a regional cap-and-trade program for greenhouse-gas emissions.

New York is one of nine states included in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which requires power plants to purchase carbon credits at auction from the state as a way to cap emissions. It has come under significant criticism from business groups, who say it only drives up costs. Environmental groups, meanwhile, say it needs to be bolstered during a review period that is set to wrap up this year.

The coalition (which includes 307 signatories onto a letter sent to all nine governors) called on Cuomo to back three changes to the program. Specifically, they are looking for stricter rules on issuing and tradingg RGGI permits, a way to insure that the money raised at auction is used only on energy efficiency projects and renewables, and closing a permitting option regarding “offset” projects.

“New York has been a leader in tackling carbon pollution, and RGGI has been a key element of New York’s strategy to reduce pollution from fossil fuels and shift to clean energy,” said David VanLuven, director of Environment New York. “Strengthening RGGI is one of the best ways we can build on our state’s progress on clean energy and on reducing the pollution that causes global warming.”

The Cuomo administration has been looking at making significant changes to the state’s participation in the RGGI program, albeit quietly. In June, Cuomo’s office pushed a bill that would have lowered the state’s carbon emission cap, with the additional money fetched at auction earmarked for solar projects and for communities with shuttered power plants.

Here’s a list of some of the major participants in the coalition:

(Click to read the entire article)
8/07/2012
County landfill to accept fracking cuttings
Steuben County is ready to accept soil and rock from Marcellus Shale drillings at the county landfill.

However, no start date has been set and there is a question as to how much debris – also known as cuttings – will be brought in this year. The material will be brought in from drilling in shale deposits in Pennsylvania.

County Public Works Commissioner Vincent Spagnoletti told the county Legislature’s Public Works Committee Monday it isn’t likely Steuben will be receiving large quantities of the cuttings removed during the initial well drilling.

The recent decline in drilling in Pennsylvania will reduce how much the county takes in -- and privately operated landfills in Chemung and Allegany counties now accept the cuttings, which will cut back how much debris Steuben receives.

(Click to read the entire article)
8/06/2012
Sierra Club Keeps Pressure On Fracking With New Ad
The Sierra Club is launching a new 30-second radio spot this week aimed at scuttling what the evironmental community worries is a final move toward allowing limited high-volume hydrofracking.

The spot will be running in several upstate areas, including Binghamton.

The ad, which can be heard at this site (the link to listen to the ad is on the left-hand rail), calls on the governor “to consider the science” of fracking before allowing the controversial natural-gas extraction process to be allowed.

Cuomo, without mentioning fracking, said earlier today the state needs to consider new and renewable energy sources in order to grow the economy, especially outside of New York City.

(Click to read the entire article)
8/02/2012
I Team 10 Investigation: "Green for Gold." Where are the green jobs?
A local not-for-profit company got $8 million in taxpayer funds to train people for green jobs. But more than two years later, critics are questioning if it was money well spent.

So I Team 10 set out to try to learn where the money was spent and how many jobs have been created as a result.

"I'm an older guy so you just gotta get more skills and stuff in order to be ready for the job market now," says Max Cherry of Rochester.

Cherry was looking for work. That's when he heard through a friend about a job training program offered through PathStone Corporation, a not-for profit organization headquartered on East Avenue.

"I just wanted to upgrade my skills in the construction trade. I thought it could help me seek employment by just going through the program," Cherry says.

In January of 2010, PathStone announced it received an $8 million federal grant through the US Labor Department for green jobs training.... two million of it to be used in Rochester.

Called "Green for Gold," the money was part of President Obama's stimulus program.

(Click to read the entire article)

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