Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. has been graded on its rate-increase request by the state of New York. The grade is not good. The staff of the state Public Service Commission is recommending drastic reductions compared with what RG&E and sister company New York State Electric and Gas Corp. are seeking in the way of higher rates for electricity and natural gas.

The PSC recommends granting only 8 percent of RG&E’s request. NYSEG was pared to 12.8 percent of its request. A final decision by the five-member commission isn’t expected for months.

Last September, the two Rochester-based utilities asked the commission for rate increases that would bring them $356.7 million in additional annual revenues. Both business and residential customers would be affected.

Overall, RG&E proposed a 22 percent increase in electric rates and a 44 percent increase in natural gas rates. NYSEG’s corresponding figures were almost 25 percent for electricity and 33 percent for gas. If approved, the increases for the two companies would be the first since the mid-1990s.

(Click to read the entire article)

RG&E and NYSEG to lay off 80 workers

Iberdrola USA, the parent company, said a total of 140 employees from its northeastern work force of 5,700 employees were let go on today.

Clayton Ellis, Iberdrola USA spokesman, said the move was made “to begin more closely aligning its operations with current business needs and economic conditions.”

About 40 workers at RG&E and 40 workers at NYSEG were let go.

“Reducing the work force is a difficult decision and one that we have not taken lightly,” said Ellis. “We understand the impact that it has on our people, families and our communities – but it is an essential step given today’s economic conditions.”

(Click to read the entire article)

A lot of people are spending a lot of time and money touting natural gas as the solution to America’s energy problems, but the folks in New York state apparently haven’t gotten the message.

Tom Price Senior vice president for corporate development and government relations at Chesapeake Energy Corp.

Natural gas producers like Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Corp. have faced opposition from those who believe the industry’s exploration methods will endanger the state’s water supply.

"We have seen a lot of concern among environmental groups in New York and in particular the New York City area about the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing drilling on the watershed, which supplies water to New York City,” said Tom Price, Chesapeake’s senior vice president for corporate development and government relations.

New York state has enacted a moratorium on horizontal drilling, a key part of natural gas exploration, until regulators complete new standards expected to be among the strictest in the country.

(Click to read the entire article)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- Central Maine Power is laying off 40 nonunion workers, part of parent company Iberdrola USA's elimination of 140 jobs in the Northeast.

Clayton Ellis, an Iberdrola spokesman, said the employees were released Friday in an effort to better align the company's operations with current business needs. He says the decision was difficult, but it's "an essential step given today's economic conditions."

He says the layoffs touch all of Iberdrola's U.S. utilities except Southern Connecticut Gas and Connecticut Natural Gas, where work force levels are being considered through a separate process.

Iberdrola's other U.S. operations include New York State Electric & Gas, Rochester Gas and Electric, Berkshire Gas and alternative energy supplier Energetix.

ALBANY, NY & BUFFALO, NY & SYRACUSE, NY - (Business Wire) National Grid today will submit a comprehensive proposal to establish new electric delivery rates for the former Niagara Mohawk service area in upstate New York for three years while allowing the company to continue its significant investment in the electric transmission and distribution system to meet the growing and changing needs of customers. The plan would have little to no impact on typical customer delivery bills.

The proposal will be filed today with the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) and, if approved, would take effect January 2011.

National Grid today operates under a rate plan that does not recover ongoing operational costs. In the new proposal, the company will file for recovery of out-of-pocket costs it will incur of more than $390 million per year over current rate levels.

To offset this, the company has proposed to delay the full recovery of previously incurred costs and instead will spread those over an additional three years through the end of 2014, resulting in little or no change in bills for the vast majority of customers. Under the current rate plan, National Grid is eligible to collect most of those deferred costs by the end of 2011.

(Click to read the entire article)

ALBANY -- National Grid is expected to announce plans to file for new electric rates with the state Public Service Commission today.

National Grid, which is based in London and has operations in New York state and New England, is approaching the end of a 10-year rate plan that was approved by the PSC as part of its acquisition of Syracuse-based Niagara Mohawk in 2001.

Rate cases before the PSC typically last 11 months. National Grid's current rate structure expires at the end of 2011.

Details of the proposed rate structure won't be revealed until later today.

On Jan. 22, the New York PSC Staff filed testimony in the pending electric and gas rate cases for NYSEG and RG&E. For NYSEG, the Staff recommends an $18.6 million electric reduction and no change in gas rates. For RG&E, the Staff recommends no change in electric rates and a $10.4 million gas rate increase.

Meeting on wind turbines in the works

South Bristol, N.Y. — A coalition of groups concerned with industrial wind turbine development in the Finger Lakes region will bring together state and federal elected officials at a conference next month at Bristol Harbour Resort. Hosting the event will be Naples Town Supervisor Frank Duserick, with U.S. Rep. Eric Massa, D-Corning, as keynote speaker.

“We want a sane, rational energy policy,” said James Hall, a Cohocton resident with the event’s sponsor, Citizen Power Alliance.

The alliance works to hold public officials and regulators accountable, while seeking to protect the public interest.

The goal of the invitation-only event is to get all the elected officials representing the region in the same room, he said, to discuss the effects of wind turbines, share insights regarding current regulations and offer recommendations for federal and state policies.

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Canadice Supervisor Kris Singer is celebrating.

She got news last week that a big land deal in her town escaped a statewide spending freeze.

“It’s the crowning moment in all my years as supervisor. I never expected this right now. I was like, ‘Yes!’” said Singer. “Once this goes into (state Department of Environmental Conservation) hands it stays wild forever and ever, amen.”

Singer is referring to 7,100 acres of watershed land plus two gems — Hemlock and Canadice lakes — which Rochester will soon sell to New York state. On Thursday, the state DEC declared the Rochester land sale exempt from a new state austerity program to halt purchase of land for conservation. That’s shorthand for: The deal will go through.

“This is fantastic news,” said Robert Morrison, director of Rochester’s Department of Environmental Services, which oversees Rochester’s water system. Hemlock and Canadice lakes have supplied fresh water to Rochester for more than 100 years. The deal retains water rights for the city.

“We have been optimistic and tried to stay that way for the past six or eight months,” said Morrison. “We’re very happy to hear the governor is going to fund this project.”

(Click to read the entire article)

ALBANY — The gap between opponents and supporters of gas drilling may be as massive as the gray Capitol that was the site of Monday's opposing rallies on the issue.

But the two sides do have one thing in common. It's the reason why some 500 folks against drilling and about 250 drilling proponents, according to police, braved the battering rain, until opponents moved inside the Capitol complex.

Both camps agree that drilling the gas-rich Marcellus shale, which sits beneath Sullivan County and the Southern Tier, would be the biggest thing the state has seen.

"It's going to forever change the way New York does business," said Ramsay Adams, executive director of the Catskill Mountainkeeper environmental group. "It'll make it an energy state, like Texas, Colorado and West Virginia, and those aren't pretty places."

(Click to read the entire article)

The development of New York's clean energy economy is under way as Gov. David A. Paterson recently announced nearly $300 million will go to renewable energy projects under the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard Program.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, in conjunction with the Public Service Commission, will funnel the funds to projects around the state in an attempt to achieve Paterson's goal of meeting 45 percent of the state's energy needs by 2015 through energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources.

Janet Joseph, director of clean energy research and market development at NYSERDA, said at a program planning committee meeting earlier this month that there is a major trend in new energy technology in New York. Joseph mentioned that while renewable energy markets are growing, there are currently "constrained financial markets" for expensive energy efficient technology.

(Click to read the entire article)

Gas drilling debate today

ALBANY -- The proposed gas drilling of the Marcellus Shale formation, one of the most controversial environmental topics, will be the topic of a public debate at 11 a.m. today at the Linda, WAMC's Performing Arts Studio.

Gas drillers say billions of dollars' worth of natural gas is in the shale formation, and New York state stands to reap millions in revenues by licensing the drilling. Environmentalists oppose it, fearing the hydrofracking process used to reach the gas will pollute groundwater and pose a public health threat.

Two representatives from each side in the debate are scheduled to participate. Confirmed panelists are: David Gahl, Environmental Activists of New York's public policy director;. Bob Howarth, professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University; Bruce Selleck, professor of geology at Colgate; and John Conrad, president of Poughkeepsie-based Conrad Geoscience Corp.

Times Union State Editor Casey Seiler will represent the news media on the panel. Alan Chartock, president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio, will moderate.

(Click to read the entire announcement)

One of two potential wind farm developers in the town of Prattsburgh announced Friday it is abandoning plans to put up nearly 50 turbines in the town.

First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne said lease holders for potential turbine sites have been notified of the firm’s decision, made at the end of December.

Lamontagne said First Wind’s decision to pull out was made after a careful, internal review of pending, “viable” projects.

“We appreciate the support – and there was a lot of support – from the people in Prattsburgh,” Lamontagne said.

First Wind also drew a fair share of critics, particularly after it launched eminent domain procedures via a divided town board. Plagued by the economic downturn during the summer and fall of 2008, the developer announced a yearlong hiatus in 2009, in order to reassess its projects.

First Wind intends to pursue projects this year in Maine, Vermont, Utah and Hawaii, but remains committed to its projects in the town of Cohocton and Lackawanna, Lamontagne said.

He did not rule out the possibility of future development in Prattsburgh, “but we’d be back starting at ground zero, so it would be pretty difficult.”

Lamontagne said the decision to leave was not influenced by the disputes that erupted last year between second developer Ecogen, town residents, and some town board members.

The disputes -- which were driven in part over concerns about excessive noise at First Wind’s operating wind farm in Cohocton -- led to angry charges from both sides, unseated two pro-wind board members in November and resulted in a flurry of lawsuits.

The new town board is now considering a six-month moratorium in order to review its comprehensive plan and possibly set up a zoning board.

Town Councilman Steve Kula wondered if the move would benefit the Ecogen project.

“Does this open up more land, to identify possibly new sites for Ecogen?” he asked.

Kula has advocated for greater setbacks than those currently in place to ensure residents’ health and safety.

“Before, you had two projects squeezed into one small town. First Wind had 50 (turbines),” Kula said. “Now you’ll have one project and more land. I don’t know. But maybe.”

Supervisor Al Wordingham said a First Wind representative left a message, but so far he has not spoken with the developer’s agent.

“All I can say is, after the experience they had in Cohocton, which is less densely populated than Prattsburgh, maybe they just decided this is not a suitable place for any wind farm,” Wordingham said.

A natural gas drilling company is proposing a facility on the west side of Keuka Lake that would dispose of wastewater by injecting it deep underground.

Chesapeake Energy plans to build the facility in the town of Pulteney, near the intersection of Armstrong Road and County Route 78, about a mile west of Keuka Lake, according to Pulteney Town Supervisor Bill Weber.

It would be located at the site of a former Chesapeake gas well on land owned by the Bergstresser family. The well, which tapped the Trenton-Black River formation, was drilled in 1997 and capped off in 1999 after it stopped producing natural gas.

Chesapeake plans to build an access road, six tanker truck unloading bays, temporary storage tanks and equipment to inject wastewater from Marcellus Shale operations in Pennsylvania and New York into the well, according to application documents submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this fall.

The Bergstresser well is about 6,000-feet deep, well below drinking water sources and Keuka Lake, Weber said.

(Click to read the entire article)

ALBANY -- New York State Electric & Gas will start settlement negotiations next week with the state Public Service Commission in an attempt to reach an agreement on its proposed rate hikes.

NYSEG, which is based in Rochester but serves pockets of the Capital Region, filed its rate requests for gas and electric service with the PSC in September. Such cases typically take 11 months to be decided.
NYSEG customers would see their electric bills rise nearly 19 percent and their gas bills rise more than 17 percent. Rochester Gas & Electric, a sister utility that only serves the Rochester area, filed a similar rate hike request.

Often the PSC, the utility, and interested parties such as large industrial customers will seek to hammer out a settlement proposal, thereby avoiding a lengthy judicial process in which both sides present evidence to an administrative law judge.

The settlement discussions are scheduled to begin Thursday morning at the PSC's offices in downtown Albany.

(Click to read the entire article)

ALBANY, NY (01/19/2010)(readMedia)-- The Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York today voiced opposition to a proposal by the Paterson Administration to impose a "severance tax" on oil and natural gas production in New York State.

In his just-released Executive Budget for 2010-11, Governor Paterson has proposed a 3-percent severance tax on the market value of natural gas harvested – or severed – from a gas pool in the Marcellus or Utica Shale formations. The tax would apply to horizontal wells, which have the potential to produce greater volumes of natural gas. There is already a production tax on the existing 14,000 wells in New York that are producing natural gas – through a real property tax assessment – which primarily stays in local communities, so an additional tax is unnecessary.

Brad Gill, IOGA of NY executive director, said the tax is poorly timed, as New York has not yet authorized horizontal drilling in the Marcellus Shale. The formation extends from the Southern Tier east to the Western Catskills.

"During this time of economic crisis, we all can appreciate the financial struggle the state now faces. But let's not drive out an industry that can help Upstate New York get through this time of hardship," Gill said. "We don't believe New York should tax an industry that has not yet begun operating in the Marcellus Shale. It's a case of putting the cart before the horse."

(Click to read the entire article)

ALBANY, NY (01/20/2010)(readMedia)-- The New York State Public Service Commission seeks public comments on an application filed July 31, 2009 in which Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation (Central Hudson) has proposed new rates, effective July 1, 2010, to increase the company's annual revenues by $15.2 million (6 percent) for electric delivery service and $4.0 million (6 percent) for gas delivery service.

According to Central Hudson's estimates based on electric and gas commodity price forecasts as of June 2009, if a residential customer buys not only delivery service but also the commodity itself from Central Hudson, the proposed delivery rate increases would increase the typical monthly residential bill for combined delivery and commodity service by $3.46 (3.7 percent) for electricity and $3.97 (3.5 percent) for natural gas.

(Click to read the entire schedule)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- National Grid is back with a $123 million proposal to install new high-tech electric meters at 39,400 homes and businesses in the Syracuse area in an effort to demonstrate the value of a next-generation “smart grid.”

The proposal, which requires approval from state regulators before moving forward, would be paid for by increasing National Grid rates throughout the utility’s Upstate territory. For an average residential customer, the project would raise the monthly bill by nearly 50 cents, said Patrick Stella, speaking for the utility.

This is the utility’s second attempt to get such a project off the ground. National Grid won approval in July from the state Public Service Commission for the same project combined with a similar pilot program in the Saratoga region, but failed to win a federal grant that was expected to pay half the cost. In this proposal, National Grid has dropped the Saratoga project and proposes to pay the entire cost with ratepayer money.

Smart grids combine high-tech equipment at the customer site with sophisticated equipment on the utility network to provide both customers and utility operators with real-time information and two-way communication.

(Click to read the entire article)

Helix Wind, a wind energy company which recently mentioned plans to install small wind turbines atop cell phone towers in California, is taking time today to crow about how its non-traditional looking turbines did in recent windstorms in San Diego. Its S322 model, it seems, withstood 60 mph winds, while a more regular wind blade style farm nearby took reportedly some heavy damage.

The Campo Kumeaay Nation wind farm project, reported the San Diego Union-Tribune, can produce enough energy for over 32,000 homes when fully operating. It took damage in December after a storm “caused catastrophic damage” to up to 75 wind turbine blades across 25 of the “20-story-high” turbines. The turbines, designed to “stop spinning at winds above 50 mph,” took some “blade cracking” damage throughout the project. Helix, with a nearby test site on the Campo Indian Reservation, said that its turbines, which were monitored remotely, “withstood sustained winds up to 62 mph during the storm, continuing to generate electricity normally.”

What’s not immediately mentioned by Helix, though, is the size of its “test site” compared to the other wind farm, or how much energy they are trying to generate. That being said, Helix makes an interesting argument in that “while large commercial wind farms grab most of the headlines” with their horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTs), “small wind turbines, particularly vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs), are proving their worth” in being “designed for operation under the most punishing of conditions (up to 100 mph).”

As New York wrestles with how to regulate natural gas drilling, state lawmakers from Central New York will soon have to decide an important question: Do they support high-volume hydraulic fracturing?

Right now, many can’t say.

“It has definitely got some economic benefits,” said Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson, “but on the other side, there are legitimate concerns about the kind of chemicals being used, the amount of water being used, the disposal of the wastewater and so on.”

Others have their minds made up.

“The positive economic impact of natural gas drilling in Upstate New York has been proven over and over,” said Assemblyman Gary Finch, R-Springport.

(Click to read the entire article)

Drillers defend ‘fracking’

With 24 truck-mounted pumps, the slurry is injected under high pressure into the shale through holes in the steel casing. Sometimes, the wells “sand up.” The clog that formed earlier this month was dislodged by snaking a 2-mile-long pipe into the well and blowing nitrogen into the hole.

A “slick-water” frack typically includes surfactants to keep the sand suspended, plus polymer friction-reducers that speed the mixture. Biocides like bromine, a disinfectant used in hot tubs, may be added to prevent organisms from clogging the fissures.

The industry downplays the environmental effects of the additives, saying they amount to less than 1 percent of the mixture. But a provision of the proposed federal legislation would require drillers to disclose the frack additives.

(Click to read the entire article)

If wind turbines are ever proposed for Hanover Township, the board of commissioners wants to be ready.

The board is holding a hearing on Feb. 17 to seek public comment on adding to its zoning ordinance of a provision to allow turbines in certain areas as a conditional use. After the public comments at the special meeting, the board could vote on the issue.

Board members have discussed the issue before, township manager John Sipper said, and the proposal came after “a concern about future developments to make sure the township is protected.”

The ordinance would require anyone looking to install turbines to file for a conditional use, which would regulate setback distances, safety regulations and adherence to any requirements set by other authorities, such as the Federal Aviation Administration, according to township solicitor Robert Davison.

(Click to read the entire article)

As a result of Commission actions, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), as well as the major investor-owned utilities in New York, will provide direct incentives to homeowners and businesses to make energy efficiency improvements. Because most of the programs will require at least a partial customer financial contribution, it's estimated that matching private sector investments over the life of the program will be more than $475 million.

The overall goal of the program is to reduce New Yorkers' electricity usage by 2015, with comparable results in natural gas conservation. In addition to helping lower monthly energy bills, the ratepayer-funded initiative is expected to save enough energy to electrically power about 600,000 average-sized homes annually and enough natural gas to heat about 60,000 average-sized homes annually by 2015.

The funding being made available over a five-year period to electric and gas customers is substantial. NYSERDA will receive the largest share - $441 million through 2011 - to fund customer incentives related to its commercial and residential electric and natural gas energy efficiency programs.

To ensure the greatest customer participation possible, major electric and gas utilities will also offer customer incentives. Utility funding is as follows: Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc., $235.8 million; National Grid (upstate), $147.7 million; National Grid (downstate), $39.9 million; New York State Electric and Gas Corporation, $31.7 million; Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation, $20.1 million; Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, $19.6 million; Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc., $14.3 million; Corning Natural Gas Corporation, $0.2 million; and St. Lawrence Gas Company, Inc., $0.08 million. For more information about energy efficiency programs, please go to

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Chesapeake Energy Corp. has warned that new rules proposed by New York regulators over shale gas drilling already are unnecessarily onerous and may deprive New York of badly needed revenue by scaring off energy firms.

"The measures proposed…will be more burdensome than any of those placed on our industry throughout the United States and will more than adequately ensure that the development of the Marcellus shale natural gas formation in New York will occur with sufficient environmental safeguards," Chesapeake said.

Objections concerning the methods used to extract the gas arose after the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) extended the public comment period on the draft supplemental generic environmental impact statement (DSGEIS) governing natural gas drilling activities in the Marcellus shale formation to Dec. 31, 2009, from Nov. 30, 2009.

The DEC invited comments on the DSGEIS, which it said “addresses the range of potential impacts of shale gas development using horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing and outlines safety measures, protection standards and mitigation strategies that operators would have to follow to obtain permits.”

(Click to read the entire article)

The Steuben County town of Pulteney could be the next battleground in the ongoing natural gas exploration debate.

Chesapeake Energy has approached the town about converting a former natural gas well into a disposal facility to handle wastewater from natural gas drilling.

Residents and others in the area already are lining up in opposition to the project, citing potential environmental hazards and other concerns.

In addition, several town officials may have to recuse themselves from the review process because they have leases or other financial ties to Chesapeake Energy.

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Ill wind buffets GE Energy unit

SCHENECTADY -- GE Energy in Schenectady was handed two pieces of bad news recently related to its wind energy businesses.

A company owned by energy mogul T. Boone Pickens decided to cut a wind turbine order in half, and federal regulators ruled that Japanese competitor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. did not violate General Electric Co. patents on wind turbines, opening the door for Mitsubishi to compete with GE on wind farm projects.

The patent decision was made by the U.S. International Trade Commission, which ended an investigation into whether Mitsubishi has infringed on GE patents for wind turbine technology. The commission had the power to bar the import of the Mitsubishi turbines.

Although GE assembles its wind turbines in other areas of the country, its wind business is based at its Schenectady campus, where it has a turbine monitoring and service center.

(Click to read the entire article)

The Marcellus Shale in 2010 will continue to be a major focus of the exploration and production industry, as the huge size and potential of this shale attracts operators. The play may also see activity in New York, as environmental regulations are established and the permit process begins.

The Clear Leader
Range Resources (NYSE: RRC) is the clear leader in the Marcellus Shale and should maintain that lead in 2010. The company has amassed a huge position of more than 1 million acres, with much of it in the rapidly emerging core or fairway area in Pennsylvania.

During 2010, Range Resources will increase its operated rig count from 11 to 16 in the Marcellus Shale, and the company anticipates its production to exit 2010 at 180 million to 200 million cubic feet equivalent per day of natural gas. This is double its estimated production at the end of 2009, and eight times its 2008 end-of-year production.

A Switch To Horizontal Drilling
Several other exploration and production companies are accelerating development programs in the Marcellus Shale in 2010 from a vertical to a horizontal program. Operators typically drill vertical wells to test acreage prior to rolling out a large development plan.

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HARRISBURG - Natural-gas drillers yesterday bid $128.5 million to develop 32,000 acres of Pennsylvania state forests, twice the revenue the state had budgeted, prompting fears of a headlong rush to overrun public lands to tap into the rich Marcellus Shale.

Gas drillers offered an average of $4,020 per acre - almost twice the amount that such leases generated less than two years ago - for the right to extract natural gas from six tracts of state forest in north-central Pennsylvania.

The robust bidding was further proof of the intense industry interest in the Marcellus Shale, a vast underground formation stretching from New York to West Virginia, and whose sweetest spots underlie much of Pennsylvania.

But John Quigley, acting secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, regarded the successful auction as a mixed blessing, saying the windfall could further whet the appetite of policymakers to lease public land to derive immediate revenue without fully understanding the long-term environmental implications of gas development.

(Click to read the entire article)

Effective earlier this month, the New York State Public Service Commission ("PSC") created the Office of Consumer Policy and named Douglas Elfner to be its Acting Director.

According to the PSC, the Office of Consumer Policy will focus on consumer policy matters, including those issues raised in rate cases and proceedings, such as low income programs, service quality, Smart Grid, and other policy-related developments. It will also be responsible for outreach and education, metering, submetering, and consumer advocacy.

Outreach for the Lifeline discount telephone service will be under the new Office and Lifeline policy issues will be shared with the Office of Telecommunications.

Consumer complaints against utilities will continue to be handled through the PSC Office of Consumer Services.

(Click to read the entire article)

New York State Electric & Gas Corporation (NYSEG), an Iberdrola USA subsidiary, has reached an agreement with Inergy Midstream to sell its Seneca Lake assets, totalling $65 million (€45.54 million).

This deal, which forms part of the asset disposal scheme outlined in Iberdrola's Strategic Plan 2008–2010, is subject to regulatory authorisation as well as other pertinent approvals.

The Seneca Lake assets comprise a high-rotation saline natural gas storage facility with 1.45 bcf of capacity and two gas pipelines in New York State.

The Seneca Lake Storage site is located on the western shore of Seneca Lake, three miles north of Watkins Glen in New York State. It includes a compression station and a high-rotation salt cavern. The plant is hooked up to the Dominion transmission system in Big Flats by the West pipeline which is 20 miles long and 16 inches in diameter.

(Click to read the entire article)

State ban on gas drilling unlikely

Don't look for the state to heed calls to stop or slow down gas drilling — even though the requests have come from such powerful interests as New York City, the Environmental Protection Agency and a union of Department of Environmental Conservation workers.

In the just-ended comment period on new regulations for gas drilling in the Marcellus shale, which sits beneath Sullivan County and much of the New York City watershed, many of the approximately 12,000 responses urged the state to scrap the regulations and redo them. Critics want new rules to ban drilling in the city watershed and address such issues as pollution from the horizontal drilling method, known as "fracking," and cumulative impacts.

But scrapping the regulations that allow drilling isn't likely to happen, says Gov. David Paterson's office.

"We need to wait and see what the final GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement) is like," said Paterson spokesman Morgan Hook. "Calls for bans or further delays are premature. Why would we scrap the work done over the past 12 months?"

(Click to read entire article)

NYSERDA is proposing to revise its plans for spending $301.6 million of the projected $446.4 million proceeds from the sale of greenhouse gas allowances the RGGI program through the period ending March 31, 2012.

The proposed new spending plan is based on a more conservative estimate of future RGGI auction revenue than the original plan adopted in April 2009, which had assumed receipt of $607 million through March 31, 2012, of which $525 million was proposed to be spent on various programs.

According to the revised plan, after five quarterly RGGI auctions of greenhouse gas allowances, NYSERDA had received $181 million and was holding it as of December 31, 2009.

(Click to read the entire article)

If the Marcellus Shale were a target, the bull's-eye would encompass northern Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier.

Companies seeking the multibillion-dollar promise of domestic natural gas production have begun bearing down on the Pennsylvania part of that bull's-eye. According to data filed with the state Department of Environmental Protection, there were 191 wells drilled in Susquehanna, Bradford and Tioga counties in 2009.

Not surprisingly, they have found one of the thickest and most geologically promising Marcellus section, living up to its expectation.

All indications are that drilling will accelerate in 2010 in Pennsylvania. By the end of last year, the state DEP issued permits for 787 gas wells in the three counties bordering the Southern Tier.

(Click to read the entire article)

Proposed Settlement of the Challenge to Legality of RGGI with Con Ed Ratepayer and Questioned RGGI Revenues

The case will be settled later this month if a proposed Consent Decree is approved by Judge Thomas J. McNamara of Supreme Court, Albany County. The proposed settlement

* Makes a $7.7 million payoff to the power producers, laundered through Con Edison, by having Con Edison buy RGGI allowances reserved for them by DEC, and then giving the allowances free to the plaintiffs,
* It maintains the appearance that state is not giving away the allowances free,
* It maintains the appearance that RGGI money from the questioned scheme is not directly used to pay for the allowances given to the plaintiffs as consideration for their dropping the case,
* Con Edison collects the $7.7 million cost it incurs for the giveaway allowances from its customers,
* NYSERDA gives an equivalent grant of RGGI funds to Con Edison, which ostensibly will benefit Con Ed customers in the future and offset the higher rates they must pay to underwrite the deal. The additional NYSERDA grant of RGGI money would be spent by Con Edison on trendy-sounding, unspecified "smart grid" projects that apparently are not otherwise being done now and are not cost effective enough to warrant investment in them today without subsidy
* As a result, a portion of the funds whose legality is questioned is used to settle the case.

(Click to read the entire article)

Paterson Pleas On Drilling

Despite pleas from dozens of environmental groups statewide, at least four in Otsego County, Gov. David Paterson is standing firm.

In a statement issued to The Freeman’s Journal, Paterson said he will not derail the dSGEIS process to create regulations for horizontal hydrofracking for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale Formation that undergirds the county and much of southeastern New York.

"More than 10,000 comments were filed with the DEC from stakeholders on both sides of this issue," Paterson stated, "and the DEC should have the opportunity to review those comments and issue a final GEIS."

Some definitions: dSGEIS is draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement. DEC is the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The horizontal hydro-fracking method would pump millions of gallons of often-toxic chemicals into the ground to break up the shale and allow the gas to surface.

Locally, Otsego 2000, the Otsego County Conservation Association, the Butternut Valley Alliance and Trout Unlimited are among the groups concerned hydrofracking could taint aquifers and wells.

(Click to read the entire article)

'Fracking' Under Pressure

ROARING BRANCH, Pa. - The frack job was frozen.

Deep beneath an icy Tioga County farm last week, an effort to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale shuddered to a halt. The culprit was not the 14-degree weather, but an innocuous material more often associated with beaches: sand.

The procedure known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is designed to liberate gas locked in the shale by injecting pressurized fluid into a well to shatter the rock. But this frack job in north-central Pennsylvania was stalled: Sand contained in the frack fluid had clogged up the bore.

"These things happen," said Greg Carder, a contractor employed by East Resources Inc., of Warren, to frack the well.

Another contractor was summoned to dislodge the blockage. The one-day delay idled about 100 workers and the fleet of assembled machinery, adding tens of thousands of dollars to the well's $4 million price.

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ALBANY -- In a big win for renewable energy developers in the state, the Public Service Commission has expanded the so-called Renewable Portfolio Standard that provides subsidies to clean energy projects.

The PSC issued an order Friday allowing an additional $200 million to be spent for large-scale projects. That's on top of $95 million in subsidies that the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority said it recently awarded to five projects, including two in the Capital Region.

"It's a major jump," said NYSERDA spokesman Jeffrey Gordon. "It's a healthy increase."

The increase is needed because the state has also expanded its renewable energy goals. Former Gov. George Pataki first set the goal for the state to get 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources such as wind and hydro by 2013.

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Governor David A. Paterson today announced that the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), in conjunction with the Public Service Commission (PSC), will provide nearly $300 million for renewable energy projects under the Renewable Portfolio Standard Program (RPS), which will help accelerate the development of New York’s clean energy economy. With these awards, New York continues to invest in clean energy to achieve Governor Paterson’s goal of meeting 45 percent of the State’s energy needs through energy efficiency and renewable energy by 2015.

“Investments in clean, renewable energy will form the foundation for New York’s clean energy economy by creating jobs and helping control energy costs for New Yorkers,” Governor Paterson said. “As I laid out in my State of the State address, we will transform New York's economy by investing in the technology of the 21st century. Improving our economy and our environment through strategic investments in clean energy industries which will sustain New York in the future.”

Included in these renewable energy developments are $96 million awarded today from the most recent competitive solicitation to five large-scale electric generating projects. These funds will support wind power initiatives at the Hardscrabble wind project in Herkimer County, and the Beekmantown wind project in Clinton County. Funds have also been allocated for hydroelectric upgrades to the School Street and Stewarts Bridge power projects in Albany and Saratoga Counties, and new initiatives at the Onondaga Renewables biomass plant in Onondaga County.

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ALBANY (wned) - It has never happened in the State Senate, according to the news release: the "majority" party choosing a member of the "minority" party to chair a Senate Committee.

That has just changed with the naming of George Maziarz (Republican, Newfane) to head the Senate Energy Committee.

"I try to be very collegial and the other side apparently noticed that," Maziarz said of his cooperative reputation. "Energy policy really doesn't have anything to do with politics."

A vocal critic of the New York Power Authority, Maziarz will likely be looking for changes, especially at NYPA's Niagara Power Project.

"I think they could do a whole lot more for Western New York," said Maziarz. "I think they could turn the economy of Western New York around."

The Green Party of New York State calls Gov. Paterson’s response to New York State’s ongoing economic and political crisis inadequate.

In his speech Gov. Paterson named fiscal reform, ethics reform, and political reform as the most pressing problems facing New Yorkers in 2010. Unfortunately, his prescription for solving these problems is mostly unimaginative and will do very little to help the millions of New Yorkers suffering from unemployment, decaying infrastructure, lack of health care, environmental degradation, and an unresponsive and corrupt political process at the legislature. The Green Party instead offers a platform of real ethics, economic, and political reform to address the fundamental problems facing New York.

Paterson has also raided the RGGI and environmental funds to pay off debt.

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ALBANY, NY (01/06/2010)(readMedia)-- Governor Paterson today delivered his 2010 State of the State message to the New York State Legislature: "A Time to Rebuild: An Era of Reform & Commitment." In his agenda to "rebuild New York," the governor restates his commitment to developing in-state energy resources in an environmentally safe manner.

"As Governor Paterson charts a path to rebuild New York's economy, we applaud him for continuing to appreciate the significance of developing in-state energy supplies, including the exploration of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale," said Brad Gill, executive director of IOGA of NY. "IOGA of NY members remain committed to protecting New York's natural resources as it explores for – and extracts – natural gas."

The Marcellus Shale is America's largest natural gas deposit, and it carries the potential to greatly increase New York's energy independence, while vastly improving economic recovery and job creation.

"This is our chance to make a difference in New York and pull our state out of its current economic slump," Gill said. "We urge the legislature to support the governor and this outstanding economic opportunity and not stand in the way of expanded natural gas exploration. New York needs to act now to keep companies investing in exploring the Marcellus in New York State, to create new jobs, boost revenue for local governments and encourage the growth of clean energy production."

IOGA of NY is a trade association founded in 1980 to protect, foster and advance the common interests of oil and gas producers, professionals and related industries in the State of New York. Visit IOGA on the web and sign a petition in support of natural gas exploration at or

REGION The NYSEG Voice Your Choice electricity supply enrollment program ended Friday. As a result, the following changes were made to customer accounts:

* Customers who were enrolled in either NYSEG's fixed or variable price supply options prior to Friday were automatically put in the new NYSEG Supply Service option unless they selected an energy services company, or ESCO, for their electricity supply. NYSEG Supply Service consists of a fixed delivery price and variable transition and supply prices.

* Customers who received their electricity supply from an ESCO prior to Friday were put in the new ESCO Supply Service option unless they or their ESCO choose to discontinue ESCO service. The ESCO Supply Service option consists of a fixed delivery price, a variable transition charge and electricity supply provided by the ESCO.

Among the specific initiatives that Governor Paterson will propose in 2010 include:

Improving coordination and expanding energy efficiency and renewable energy programs across the State in support of the Governor’s ‘45 by 15’ clean energy goal.

Submitting legislation that will establish a power plant siting process that will provide greater certainty to developers and greater opportunities for public involvement.

Submitting legislation to establish a long-term Power for Jobs program and developing new selection criteria that encourage energy efficiency.

Submitting legislation to “green” the State’s energy code and removing loopholes that have limited the code’s effectiveness.

Developing procedures to assess and consider disproportionate environmental burdens from energy facilities in potential environmental justice areas.

Submitting legislation to require disclosure of energy characteristics of buildings at the time of sale.

Working with the New York Power Authority to procure another 100 megawatts of solar energy statewide.

Work with NYPA to bring to fruition an offshore wind project in the Great Lakes following the issuance of its RFP in December 2009.

Work with LIPA to bring to fruition its utility-scale solar projects following its successful 50 MW solar RFP in 2009.

Working with the Long Island Power Authority and the Long Island-New York City Offshore Wind Collaborative to issue a request for proposals for an offshore wind project off the coast of the Rockaways.

Ensuring stringent environmental safeguards are in place for natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale gas reserves.

Releasing a Climate Action Plan that will identify strategies to achieve an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas pollution by 2050.

Establishing incentives to repower existing power plants to reduce emissions and increase power output.

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ALBANY -- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is urging National Grid to reconsider plans to outsource as many as 1,200 technology jobs in New York and New England.

Gillibrand wrote a letter dated Jan. 4 to Tom King, president of National Grid USA, following a Syracuse Post-Standard report that 200 computer-related jobs would be eliminated in Syracuse, which is the headquarters for National Grid's upstate New York operations.

There is no indication if any of the jobs are located in the Capital Region.

The state Public Service Commission has been asking utilities in New York to cut costs that do not impact safety or reliability of the electrical system.

NEW YORK, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Chesapeake Energy (CHK.N) has called proposed New York state regulations for the shale gas drilling industry unnecessarily onerous and likely to scare energy companies out of state, depriving New York of badly needed revenue.

The sentiment was supported by competitor Fortuna Energy, a subsidiary of Canada's Talisman Energy (TLM.TO), which said it was shifting its focus to Pennsylvania because uncertainties in New York threatened to undermine its investments there.

"The measures proposed ... will be more burdensome than any of those placed on our industry throughout the United States," Chesapeake said in public comments made available to Reuters on Tuesday.

As a result, "some operators may elect to focus their risk capital in other states," the company said, which would mean New York would lose potential tax revenue from gas production at a time when the state is looking to close a $3.2 billion budget deficit.

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Ten years after its creation, a non-profit "utility" that's supposed to provide New York consumers with a reliable and affordable flow of electricity is spending heavily on consultants -- paying generous salaries, perks and bonuses to its locally based work force and drawing plenty of criticism.

All of this is affecting ratepayers because expenses at the New York Independent System Operator, the "NYISO" as it's called, end up getting covered by industry charges passed on to consumers.

Now, as it plans for another year of drawing more than $150 million in tariff costs from power generators and distributors that wind up in electricity bills, the NYISO, which drew its first breaths in December 1999 as part of the deregulation of the power industry, is plotting another major expense. Directors intend to build a new electricity grid control center -- a $50 million replacement of the facility currently housed in a large, bunker-like building in Guilderland which was recently renovated.

The new center would rise in East Greenbush next to the Class-A office building the NYISO purchased in 2005 for $14.5 million from Phoenix Cos. NYISO corporate executives and a staff of 436 moved to the sprawling campus from Guilderland at that time.

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Ten years after its creation, a non-profit “utility” that’s supposed to provide New York consumers with a reliable and affordable flow of electricity is spending heavily on consultants — paying generous salaries, perks and bonuses to its locally based work force and drawing plenty of criticism.

All of this is affecting ratepayers because expenses at the New York Independent System Operator end up getting covered by industry charges passed on to consumers.

Now, as it plans for another year of drawing more than $150 million in tariff costs from power generators and distributors that wind up in electricity bills, the NYISO, which drew its first breaths in December 1999 as part of the deregulation of the power industry, is plotting another major expense.

Directors intend to build a new electricity grid control center — a $50 million replacement of the facility currently housed in a large, bunker-like building in Guilderland.

(Click to read the entire article)

New York Gov. David A. Paterson's State Energy Plan, filed with the State Energy Planning Board, provides a comprehensive blueprint for meeting 21st century energy needs and challenges, National Grid said.

"We applaud Gov. Paterson and the Energy Board for developing a plan to push New York to a leadership position on climate change and energy policy," said Tom King, president of National Grid in the U.S. "We support the key strategies embodied in this plan; delivering and using energy more efficiently, developing renewable energy resources, and strategic investment in the state's energy infrastructure."

National Grid participated in the state's energy planning process since its inception in 2008, providing comments on scoping documents and early drafts of the plan. The company has been a leader in efficiency programs across the northeast, and continues to expand its energy efficiency programs in upstate New York.

The company also continues to invest heavily in its own infrastructure to safely and efficiently meet the needs of its customers, and sees ongoing investment across the state as a critical platform for delivering energy efficiency programs, local renewable generation and smart technologies that will allow customers to manage their energy usage.

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