Energy

David Chanatry / New York Reporting Project

Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his State of the State address in Albany. But unlike years past, one thing was missing. Anti-fracking protestors used to show up each year at the speech to voice their opinion at the high-profile event. This year, they had a different message.

Unlike the thousand or so activists who lined the Empire Plaza hallways in years past, this group was smaller and in better spirits. After Cuomo banned hydrofracking in New York, the protesters wanted to give him a shout out.  

Inergy

The next fight in a long battle over storing liquefied petroleum gas along the western shore of Seneca Lake is an issues conference next month. Opponents to the facility are trying to get a seat at the table along with environmental officials and the gas company.

Storing the liquefied gas, or LPG in an expansive network of empty salt caverns along the southwestern shore of this finger lake was first proposed five years ago.

Coal vs. natural gas during the polar vortex

Dec 20, 2014
Julie Grant / Allegheny Front

President Barack Obama wants the U.S. to get serious about climate change. He’s proposed to limit carbon emissions from power plants. The coal industry and conservative politicians say new carbon rules will kill King Coal, and they warn that without it, severe weather events, like last year’s polar vortex, could leave people in the cold and dark.

New York State Department of Transportation

New standards for how crude oil is shipped along rail lines through states like New York are moving forward, but Sen. Charles Schumer says the process needs to move faster.

The crude oil crossing the nation now is hauled in train cars known as DOT-111’s. Safety advocates say the cars are outdated and lack equipment to stop leaks or explosions. Introducing newer models has been a slow process. 

Marie Cusick / Innovation Trail

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration will prohibit hydrofracking in New York state, citing unresolved health issues and dubious economic benefits of the widely used gas-drilling technique.

Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens said at a cabinet meeting this morning that he was recommending a ban. Cuomo had repeatedly said he would defer to Martens and acting health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker in making the decision.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

A temporary ban on the controversial gas extraction method hydrofracking has dragged on for years. Even as the governor says a long-awaited study is nearing completion, a large group of local officials want the ban to continue.

Elected Officials to Protect New York, made up of more than 850 local-level elected officials, says Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration still has not properly studied fracking enough.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Madison County is hoping to turn environmental stewardship into jobs. At least one business is putting up  shop near the county’s landfill, with the intent to use energy captured from decaying trash.

Johnson Brothers Lumber, a third generation company out of Cazenovia, is taking their sustainability initiative to the next level. They’re building a kiln that will dry wood next door to the Madison County’s Gas-to-Energy facility in Wampsville, according to company vice president Mike Johnson.

Thomas Schmidt / Flickr

The Cuomo administration has announced a $40 million competition designed to encourage local energy solutions for extreme weather conditions. The problem at hand is an aging electrical infrastructure in New York state and the nation. The solution may be a "microgrid."

Solarize Tompkins

Hundreds of central New Yorkers have jumped on the solar power bandwagon. Now Solarize Tompkins, the most successful program getting property owners to go solar, is looking ahead to other alternative energy sources for homeowners looking to break from fossil fuels.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The Solarize Syracuse initiative was a success, according to organizers. The three-month long program has helped more than 70 property owners in Syracuse, Dewitt, Manlius and the town of Onondaga go solar.

Solar energy is helping Diane Swords of Syracuse’s university neighborhood heat her home. Swords is one of the property owners who installed solar energy technology during the recent Solarize Syracuse blitz.
 

redplanet89 / Flickr

The Port of Oswego is considering a new contract with an energy integration company intended to help the port save money, and possibly become a net-zero energy user.

Julia Botero / WRVO

A large solar array is in the works in Jefferson County. A Colorado-based developer plans to fill twenty acres of private farmland in Philadelphia with solar panels by this time next year. 

New York state has agreed to pay 20 percent of the $11 million it will cost to build enough solar panels in Philadelphia to produce 4 megawatts of energy. That's enough to power 700 homes without emitting carbon or burning fossil fuels.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

There’s a movement afoot in the Syracuse area to get more people to install solar energy technology in their home or business.

Peter Wirth of Fayetteville installed solar panels on his home two years ago. And one of the most frequent questions he hears is,

“Does it work in central New York? Well, it’s produced almost 100 percent of our power for the last two years,” said Wirth.

Dispute over Seneca Lake gas storage proposal rages on

Jul 25, 2014
David Chanatry / NYRP

The debate over proposals to store natural gas, propane and butane in salt caverns under Seneca Lake has become increasingly vocal, especially after a federal agency approved part of the project last May.  Last week opponents organized the biggest rally yet in the Finger Lakes village of Watkins Glen.

As the members of the Schuyler County Legislature left their meeting last week, the emotion, passion and anger of opponents of the gas storage projects -- and fracking in general -- burst into full display.

“Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!” the protestors chanted.

Tom Magnarelli/WRVO (file photo)

Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand are welcoming the announcement today by the federal Department of Transportation for increased safety measures for rail cars that carry crude oil.

With more oil being shipped via train from the Bakken region in North Dakota and adjacent Canada to the East Coast, and more accidents involving those tanker cars, safety concerns have been growing.

Schumer told reporters today that he hopes the rules will be implemented as soon as possible.

Bosc d'Anjou / Flickr

 

In a decision released last week, the highest court in New York ruled that local governments can ban drilling within their borders. And while hydrofracking remains on hold in the state, the ruling is expected to have a huge impact on the industry in New York if fracking is eventually permitted.

 

The dean of the law school at Cornell University, Eduardo Penalver, helps explain the court's ruling

upholding local bans on gas drilling in New York.

 

Innovation Trail

The debate over whether a municipality can ban hydraulic fracturing within its borders was brought before the New York State Court of Appeals Tuesday afternoon. The Southern Tier town of Dryden is defending its right to home rule against lawyers representing the bankruptcy trustee for Norse Energy.

Earthjustice managing attorney Deborah Goldberg says she feels confident bringing the case before the court because home rule is protected by the state constitution and New York isn’t alone.

One farmer weighs pros and cons of wind turbines

May 31, 2014
Matt Martin/WSKG

Wind turbine company NextEra Energy is considering whether to build a $200 million wind energy project in the town of Catlin in Chemung County. The town board is finalizing the details of a new zoning law that will allow the project to move forward. So local farmers are weighing whether or not to allow the turbines on their property.

It’s a windy day as Dan Teed makes his way up the side of a gravel road. Tall, twirling turbines stand like sentinels on the crest of the hill.

President Barack Obama’s visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown was closed to the public, but that didn’t stop protesters from both sides of the hydrofracking debate from heading there anyway.
    
The president was there to talk about upstate tourism, but for many of the other day visitors the economic issue was hydrofracking in the state’s Marcellus shale region.

President Barack Obama and the national press descended on the village of Cooperstown Thursday afternoon. His presence also brought out protesters both for and against the controversial process of drilling for natural gas, known as hydrofracking.

Victor Furman says it’s unfair that New York is beholden to what he calls an unfair moratorium, with such a resource at it’s feet.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

SUNY Cortland has flipped the switch on a solar panel field that will supply six percent of the college’s electricity needs.

The 3,600 solar panels are tucked off to the side of the college’s athletic fields. It was a two year project from start to finish and cost $3 million. SUNY Cortland was the first public college in the state to install such a project.

The panels produce 1.5 million kilowatt hours of power. The college has set a goal of getting 10 percent of its power from solar by 2050.

Jerry Klineberg

Renewable Energy: What to Expect in the Next Ten Years
Symposium held April 4, 2014
The Links at East Syracuse

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

National Grid customers should get some relief from their next energy bill after prices skyrocketed during a frigid winter, thanks to supply costs for electricity ticking down slightly.

National Grid says customers can expect their next electric bills to be 40 percent cheaper than the month before. A bill for 600 kWh of energy used will drop from $130 in March to $75 in April.

Constitution Pipeline

Recently, Pennsylvania residents had the opportunity to voice their concerns or support for the Constitution Pipeline project, which would enter New York through Broome County and connect to an existing upstate pipeline. It was the last public hearing before its final approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

New technology could play a vital role in the future of renewable energy, and could end up having an impact on consumers' energy bills. Hundreds of people attended last week's 10th Annual Symposium on Energy in the 21st Century, learning about how New York state's energy production and use will change in the next decade.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

For some people living in central and northern New York, this past winter wasn’t just cold and snowy, it was expensive too. The higher electric rates many customers were saddled with even prompted Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) to call for a federal investigation last week into whether or not consumers were being unfairly overcharged.

While at the 10th Annual Symposium on Energy in East Syracuse Ken Daly, president of National Grid New York, said that he shares the pain that many consumers felt when they received their bills during the coldest parts of the season.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO/file photo

In response to what he calls "mind-boggling" rate increases for electricity this winter, Sen. Charles Schumer is asking two federal agencies to determine if customers were overcharged. Schumer says he wants the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to investigate the wholesale electric and gas markets to make sure there wasn't price gouging.

"The FTC is the premier consumer regulator when consumers are ripped off," Schumer said. "FERC would look at wholesale rates and things like that, relationships between the different parts of the grid."

New York State Department of Transportation

A clear and present danger hiding in plain sight.

That’s how Cornell University’s Susan Christopherson describes the oil train traffic through the state.

A massive explosion caused by a runaway oil train in Quebec last July has raised awareness about the levels of flammable material being shipped by rail.

Christopherson, a professor of city and regional planning, says New York state finds itself with a mobile oil problem.

Constellation Energy Group

For the second time in less than a week, the Nine Mile Point Unit 2 nuclear power plant in Oswego County experienced an automatic shutdown, due to a problem at the plant. 

The shutdown happened around 4:30 p.m. Monday. According to a spokesperson from Constellation Energy, which owns the plant, a worker "inadvertently contacted a highly sensitive plant component." As a result, safety systems shut down the plant automatically. 

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