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POLITICO New York Energy: NYSERDA seeks more renewables -- NYCHA dives into solar -- Judge knocks dairy farm permit

By Danielle Muoio and Marie J. French | 04/26/2018 10:00 AM EDT

NYSERDA SEEKS MORE RENEWABLES — POLITICO's Marie J. French: NYSERDA issued its second request for proposals under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to reach 50 percent renewable electricity by 2030. NYSERDA will seek up to 20 projects to generate 1.5 million megawatt hours of electricity and receive ratepayer subsidies in the form of renewable energy credits. The solicitation includes new requirements that projects pay prevailing wage, which could increase costs , and that developers provide evidence they've started local permitting processes after the previous awards took some communities by surprise. Read more here.

NYCHA DIVES INTO SOLAR — POLITICO's Danielle Muoio: The New York City Housing Authority has solicited two commercial developers to install 6 megawatts of solar power generation on over 100 rooftops, marking the first time solar panels will be installed on NYCHA housing. The solicitation is part of NYCHA's goal to install 25 megawatts of solar by 2025, which would provide enough power for 6,600 apartments. The 25 megawatt goal was developed in 2016 when the public housing authority joined the Renew300 initiative run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The federal program has a target of installing 300 megawatts of solar on federally-assisted housing by 2020. NYCHA has selected Bright Power, Inc. and Tangent Energy Solutions to install the panels as community solar gardens. As community solar projects, NYCHA won't own the electricity generated. Instead, the developers must reach out to residents within the service area to lease portions of the solar garden. In exchange, participants will receive a credit on their electricity bill for their portion of clean electricity that is produced. NYCHA's energy issues have been front and center of recent infrastructure problems the authority has come under fire for. The aging building stock is notoriously inefficient due to decades of under investment. Aside from producing clean energy, solar installations theoretically can provide electricity when traditional power fails. Read more here.

JUDGE KNOCKS DAIRY FARM PERMIT — POLITICO's Marie J. French: A state Supreme Court judge has sided with environmental groups challenging a general permit for large dairy farms, finding the Department of Environmental Conservation has violated the federal Clean Water Act. The ruling issued Tuesday by Judge David Weinstein of the Albany County Supreme Court states that DEC's permits for consolidated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, do not meet the standards laid out in federal regulations. DEC is required under the decision to issue a new permit compliant with federal law by October 23. Read more here.

— The DEC said in a statement the agency was reviewing the decision. "Under the decision, the General Permit for CAFOs will remain in force for all currently covered farms until a modified permit is adopted," the agency said. About 21 facilities are covered under the general permit, according to DEC.

BIG BUSINESS WINNING 5G FIGHT — Bloomberg's Eric Newcomer: "Big business is quietly trouncing cities in the fight over the future of the internet. The results of an obscure, bureaucratic battle inside the U.S. communications regulator could decide not only which Americans get ultra-fast internet but how much it'll cost and even what city streetlights will look like. On Wednesday, a committee created by the Federal Communications Commission will meet to frame the future of 5G, a technology that will make downloads dramatically faster on phones and perhaps replace home broadband for some. The group, with representatives of the business world outnumbering government officials four-to-one, may push for a vote on guidelines that have been under debate for more than a year. It will be the first summit since Shireen Santosham and her boss quit in dismay. The city of San Jose, where Santosham works as chief innovation officer, resigned in late January from the wonky-sounding board, called the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee. New York City later followed. The process came to embody a nationwide effort by telecommunications companies, like AT&T Inc. and Sprint Corp., to establish business-friendly rules for their industry, Santosham and other city officials allege." Read more here.

— Recall that a proposal in Cuomo's executive budget would have wrested some control of 5G cell tower permits from local governments. The proposal didn't make it in the budget but could surface later this session.

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— Cuomo's plastic bag ban proposal gained another opponent — the Rochester-based grocery chain Wegmans has concerns about increased paper bag use.

— Suffolk County is installing advanced wastewater treatment systems to reduce nitrogen heading from homes to waterways. But expense is a major concern, despite county and state grants designed to offset costs.

— The new solar energy system at SUNY New Paltz cost $1.4 million and includes storage.

— Westchester officials are continuing to take utilities to task over the response to two March Nor'easters.

— Some North Country land trusts were among those that got state funding earlier this week.

— The Environmental Protection Agency is giving a $200,000 grant to Onondaga County to clean up the former Roth Steel scrapyard in Syracuse.

— Mobile home parks in Moreau will have to pay over $206,000 per year for a new sewer project, over $80,000 more than original estimates.


— The New Jersey League of Conservation Voters released its environmental scorecard for Gov. Phil Murphy's first 100 days in office. The scorecard credits Murphy for enacting programs designed to fight climate change, but says there is still more work to be done to improve water quality and revitalize the state Department of Environmental Protection.

PRUITT TO THROW AIDES UNDER BUS — The New York Times' Lisa Friedman and Coral Davenport: "As Scott Pruitt, the embattled head of the Environmental Protection Agency, prepares to testify before Congress on Thursday amid a series of spending and ethics investigations, an internal E.P.A. document indicates that he may blame his staff for many of the decisions that have put a cloud over his tenure at the agency." Read more here.

— Bloomberg has a handy guide to the nine open investigations into Pruitt.

— Scientists have denounced Pruitt's efforts to limit the use of scientific studies.

WHO OWNS CLIMATE CHANGE WATERS? — Bloomberg's Chris Flavelle: "One April morning in 2016, Daryl Carpenter, a charter boat captain out of Grand Isle, La., took some clients to catch redfish on a marsh pond that didn't use to exist. Coastal erosion and rising seas are submerging a football field's worth of Louisiana land every hour, creating and expanding ponds and lakes such as the one onto which Carpenter had piloted his 24-foot vessel. Suddenly, another boat pulled up beside Carpenter's. 'You're trespassing,' the other driver declared, before chasing him and his clients down the bayou. The sheriff's office later threatened to arrest Carpenter if he ever returned to the pond. There was just one problem: Under Louisiana state law, any waterways that are accessible by boat are supposed to be public property, argued Carpenter—even what was previously unnavigable swampland. Carpenter sued the sheriff, as well as Castex Energy Inc., which owns the property around the pond, for interfering with his business. ... Carpenter's suit reflects a legal and political dilemma that's beginning to reverberate around the country: As seas rise and coasts wash away, who owns the land that goes underwater?" Read more here.

CORN SEEKS TO TRUMP OIL — The Wall Street Journal's Timothy Puko and Bradley Olson: "President Donald Trump is caught between two powerful business constituents of the Republican Party as he faces growing pressure to resolve a dispute between the oil industry and the Farm Belt." Read more here.

CALPERS BACKS ENGAGEMENT OVER DIVESTING — Bloomberg's Kate Smith: "The California Public Employees' Retirement System opposes plans by the Trump administration to relax vehicle emissions standards. But don't expect Calpers to exert its muscle by dumping shares of car makers.'" Read more here.

HAWAII PUSHES PERFORMANCE METRICS — UtilityDive's Gavin Bade: "Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) on Tuesday signed a bill directing the Public Utilities Commission to implement performance-based regulation by 2020 that breaks the link between utility revenues and capital investments." Read more here.

PARADISE AT RISK — The Washington Post's Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis: "More than a thousand low-lying tropical islands risk becoming 'uninhabitable' by the middle of the century — or possibly sooner — because of rising sea levels, upending the populations of some island nations and endangering key U.S. military assets, according to new research published Wednesday." Read more here.

MACRON WARNS U.S. OVER LEAVING PARIS — Bloomberg's Helene Fouquet and Anna Edgerton: "Addressing a joint session of Congress Wednesday on the third day of a state visit, [French President Emmanuel] Macron appealed to the U.S. not to turn inward as he listed a host of threats facing the world from climate change and rogue nuclear weapons to inequality and fake news." Read more here.

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