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POLITICO New York Energy: Nuclear divide on display -- Congdon named deputy PSC chair -- new anti-bag group emerges -- ZEC's in NJ

By Marie J. French and David Giambusso | 03/07/2017 10:00 AM EDT

Good morning! You are reading a complimentary synopsis of the POLITICO New York Pro Energy newsletter. Pro subscribers receive a premium version of this newsletter, which includes an enhanced look-ahead and robust analysis of the energy news driving the day, weekdays at 5:45 a.m. Contact us here to learn more.

NUKE DIVIDE DISPLAYED - POLITICO New York's Marie J. French: Lawmakers continue to be divided about Gov. Andrew Cuomo's bailout of upstate nuclear power plants, based mostly on local concerns. Questions about the economic benefits of propping up the plants and the costs to downstate communities dominated a hearing on the nuclear subsidy on Monday. "It seems unusual to me that the poor people in the Bronx ... would be helping subsidize areas that may not be in as great a need as people in the Bronx," said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, a Democrat from the Bronx. Dinowitz is the chair of the Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee, which, along with other committees, held an oversight hearing on Cuomo's nuclear subsidy for the James A. Fitzpatrick, Ginna and Nine Mile Point 1 and 2 plants. The subsidy, which the Public Service Commission approved in August, will be paid for by all state ratepayers based on energy usage. Dinowitz and other lawmakers criticized PSC officials for not testifying in person at the hearing. PSC spokesman Jim Denn said commission officials were not informed of the hearing until last week and had scheduling conflicts. "We stand ready to re-convene if the PSC needs a little bit more notice," Dinowitz said. "It's a little shocking that the PSC and other state agencies chose not to be here." Read more here.

- HOW IT PLAYED: "A state-approved bailout of three upstate nuclear power plants was the focus of a legislative hearing Monday, but New York's top energy officials declined to attend," writes Gannett's Jon Campbell. "Critics of New York's impending $462-million-year subsidy for Upstate nuclear plants today urged state legislators to block the subsidies and to take a more active role in setting energy policy," writes Syracuse Post-Standard's Tim Knauss.

GOOD TUESDAY MORNING: Let us know if you have tips, story ideas or life advice. We're always here at dgiambusso@politico.com and mfrench@politico.com.

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ZIBELMAN NAMES CONGDON DEPUTY CHAIR - POLITICO New York's Marie J. French: Tom Congdon, the chief of staff and executive deputy of the Department of Public Service, has been named deputy chair of the Public Service Commission." Read more here.

BAG GROUP EMERGES IN WAKE OF FIGHT - POLITICO New York's Bill Mahoney: A month after the Assembly voted to impose a moratorium on New York City's five-cent fee on plastic bags, a former member of the chamber has created an independent expenditure committee to support laws that discourage the use of bags. Read more here.

NJ'S PSEG SOUNDS ALARM ON ZECS - POLITICO New York's David Giambusso: If there was any lingering doubt that PSEG was pushing hard for nuclear subsidies, it was dispelled during an investors conference on Monday." Read more here.

AROUND NEW YORK:

- NYPA is partnering with Israeli software company mPrest on a predictive tool that monitors the function of power transformers at New York State's Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant.

- PSEG omitted PennEast from its annual investor report, signaling more trouble for the embattled pipeline.

- A new report examines the barriers to deploying solar-plus-storage installations in New York City, including the lack of existing state or city incentives for those systems.

- What's the future of SolarCity as part of the Tesla empire as Silveo technology is scrapped?

- Fear, anger expressed at local hearing in Cortlandt on Indian Point closure.

- The Senate passed a bill creating a new Energy Savings Account program to help businesses save on energy costs and promote energy efficiency.

- 2016 was the safest year for New York hunters since DEC began tracking hunting-related shootings.

- NYSERDA announced ChargeNY, which provides incentives for employers to install electric vehicle charging stations. Advocates are still waiting on the rebate program for buyers of electric cars, expected by the April 1 deadline.

- A Warren County bicycling group wants a new connector trail to follow utility lines through Queensbury to link a host of trails with a statewide trail being touted by the governor's office.

- The federal fight against the Hudson River anchorage plan has been revived.

- The ice boom where Lake Erie flows into the Niagara River will come out early again this year.

- EDITORIAL: The Observer's board writes that the "rush to shutter Indian Point is more about politics than sound energy policy."

- MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Public Service commissioner Diane Burman will be among those speaking at a grid modernization forum in Chicago April 3-5.

SAVING GOVERNMENT DATA - The New York Times' Amy Harmon: "As the presidential inauguration drew near in January, something bordering on panic was taking hold among some scientists who rely on the vast oceans of data housed on government servers, which encompass information on everything from social demographics to satellite photographs of polar ice." Read more here.

CALIFORNIA'S WATER (STORAGE) SHORTAGE - Wall Street Journal's Jim Carlton: "Since the beginning of the year, enough water has spilled out of California's rain-swollen Lake Oroville to meet the demands of roughly 14 million people for a year." Read more here.

EXXON'S BIG PLAN - Wall Street Journal's Bradley Olson: "Exxon Mobil Corp. plans to spend about $20 billion on refineries, petrochemical plants and other projects in and around the Gulf of Mexico, Chief Executive Darren Woods said Monday, underscoring how the giants of the global energy industry are turning to America." Read more here.

- The White House and ExxonMobil released statements hailing the investment in the U.S. that were identical in some parts.

STATOIL BETS BIG ON RENEWABLES (cc: NYSERDA) - The Wall Street Journal's Elena Cherney and Sarah Kent: "Norway's Statoil ASA aims to increase its investment in renewables to between 15% and 20% of total spending by 2030, up from 5% today." Read more here.

OIL TRAIN COMPANY HIRES NEW CEO - The Wall Street Journal's Jackie McNish and David Benoit: "After a boardroom battle that lasted less than two months, a rookie activist investor has upended management of CSX Corp., installing a 72-year-old industry maverick as chief executive with a mandate to slash costs and revamp one of the country's biggest railways." Read more here.

VIDEO: Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher to talk Donald Trump. Watch more here.

PHOTOS: Here are some photos Mother Jones put together of all the stuff in the environment that the EPA has cleaned up over the years. Look at the photos.

IEA: OIL COMPANIES SPENDING AGAIN - Bloomberg's Grant Smith: "Oil companies are reviving investment after a two-year rout as OPEC output cuts boost prices, easing but not eliminating the risk of a future supply crunch, the International Energy Agency said." Read more here.

AUSTRALIA FINDS IRREVERSIBLE CLIMATE IMPACTS - Guardian's Katharine Murphy: "An independent review of the state of Australia's environment has found the impacts of climate change are increasing and some of the changes could be irreversible." Read more here.

OP-ED: ABOUT THOSE NEW PLANETS - Bloomberg's Faye Flam: "No event is free of controversy these days - not even the discovery of seven habitable planets that hit the news late last month. For a few days, drawings of those tranquil spheres loomed above the tumult of earthly affairs - the presidential tweets, the protests, the botched Oscars." Read more here.

FUTURES:

- Oil fell Monday over investors' concerns about rising U.S. production, The Wall Street Journal reports.

"U.S. crude futures fell 13 cents, or 0.24%, to $53.20 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, gained 11 cents, or 0.2%, to $56.01 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe."

- Natural gas got a boost from cooler weather forecasts, the Journal reports.

"Natural gas for April delivery rose 7.4 cents, or 2.62%, to $2.9010 a million British thermal units Monday. The five day streak of price gains is the longest for natural gas since late January."

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