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Grassroots Bulletin

May Newsletter

Con Edison and Elected Officials Stress Balancing Costs with Reliability      

Recent reports by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) shows that as New York City and the downstate region continue to attract business and families alike, electricity demand continues to grow.  In the fall of 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), looking to encourage the construction of more generation in the Hudson Valley, ordered the NYISO to develop a process that would lead to the creation of a new “capacity zone.”

The new capacity zone set to begin this month is intended to address transmission bottlenecks and attract investment in new power plants by creating a kind of marketplace with price signals for electricity generation. 

Initial estimates of the zones bill impacts were in the 10 percent range for many O & R and Westchester customers who reside within the zone. Con Edison and O & R filed comments with the FERC to oppose the creation of a new capacity zone.  Through these efforts, customer bill impacts are expected to now be around 6 to 7 percent.  Balancing costs and reliability are important for Con Edison’s customers and the company.    

Over the past several months, many federal, state, and local lawmakers, and others, have written to FERC with concerns about what they perceive as the zone’s negative impact. 

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and Congresswoman Nita Lowey are among those who have written to FERC with concerns about the new zone, along with Assembly member Didi Barrett and State Senator Terry Gipson.  Representatives Sean Patrick Maloney and Chris Gibson at the end of March introduced legislation in Congress to block the new capacity zone. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The NYISO, recognizing the bill impacts, proposed a three-year phase-in period which Con Edison strongly supported.  Ultimately FERC rejected the phase-in.  The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) recently appealed FERC’s denial of the requested three-year phase-in period of the zone.

The appeal is still pending, and a FERC spokesman says the original FERC order – the one ordering the NYISO to implement the new zone this May – remains in effect unless FERC rules differently.

LNG Exports Take Center Stage 


With the recent unrest in the Ukraine and the advancement of carrier technology, members of Congress have begun to examine more closely how we might take advantage of the country’s most abundant energy source and create a viable liquid natural gas export practice.  

From international disputes to local economic development, liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports (the transportable version of natural gas) are a hot topic in nearly every corner of Washington. Ten bills have been introduced and several hearings held in both the House and Senate. For months, Republicans and many Democrats have been pressuring the Department of Energy (DOE) to speed up its approval of LNG export applications.  More recently, many members of Congress are using the current political crisis in Ukraine to push for legislation aimed at exporting large amounts of domestic natural gas in an attempt to weaken Russia’s influence. Of the natural gas currently imported by European Union countries, about a third comes from Russia, passing through pipelines in Ukraine.

To date, only one proposed LNG export project has been approved.  The Cheniere Energy Sabine Pass project, which won Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval in April 2012, is expected to begin exporting fuel in late 2015. Sempra Energy’s Cameron Project, which would export LNG from western Louisiana, will potentially be approved this summer. In February, the Department of Energy (DOE) gave approval for Sempra to ship LNG to nations without free-trade agreements with the U.S. – a step which is required in addition to the FERC environmental review. On April 30th, FERC announced that Sempra’s project would not cause major environmental damage, with a final decision expected by late July.

If the Sempra project proceeds, it is scheduled to begin liquefying gas in late 2017 and be fully operational by 2018. Although Sempra is the lead in the Cameron project, the facility may cost up to $10 billion and as a result, there are a number of partners needed in order to make it a reality. If completed, the facility will be able to export 1.7 billion cubic feet of fuel per day.

There are currently 23 outstanding applications for permits to construct facilities at existing LNG import terminals or for a new LNG export facility in order to export. Additionally, seven companies have active permits and one other has been approved to re-export LNG cargos (take in foreign cargos, hold in storage, and then reload onto LNG tankers to go to foreign markets) from import terminals with three additional company applications pending.

Queens Hosts World's Fair Anniversary Celebration 


This year marks 75 and 50 years since Queens played host to two World’s Fairs, “World of Tomorrow” (1939) and “Peace Through Understanding” (1964). Each fair made tremendous contributions to technology, art and culture and brought visitors from around the world to Queens. Con Edison actually participated in the 1964 World’s Fair with both the Tower of Light and Festival of Gas pavilions. Read more about our employee’s involvement here. 

A visit to Flushing Meadows Corona Park still provides evidence of the two Fairs hosted there, especially at the New York Hall of Science, Queens Museum, Queens Theatre and the Queens Botanical Gardens. This spring and summer Queens will celebrate the anniversaries of the Fairs borough-wide with exhibits, events and performances. Con Edison is a proud sponsor of the anniversary celebration in the park as well a partner of each venue in the park.  Our partnerships help provide critical STEM training, culturally diverse performing arts, and environmental education workshops for young students. 

To celebrate the historic occasion, Flushing Meadows Corona Park will host a series of activities beginning this May through October. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz will kick off the six month celebration on May 18th. The festival will include free activities for all ages to enjoy and re-live the 1939 and 1964 Fairs. For more information about events around the World’s Fair Anniversary Celebration, click here.    


An Interview with City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo 

Ms. Cumbo has dedicated her life to community development and preserving the dynamic elements of diversity that have made Brooklyn, New York what it is today.  She has worked at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, WNET Channel 13, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Grey Art Gallery.   Ms. Cumbo has always been dedicated to ensuring that underserved communities receive the type of programming and educational opportunities that all of New York City’s thriving neighborhoods have come to expect. 

She currently serves on several Council Committees, including Cultural Affairs, Libraries & International Group Relations, Finance, Higher Education, Public Housing, Youth Services and as the Chairperson of the Council Committee on Women’s Issues.

Laurie was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and graduated from the Berkeley Carroll Day School in Park Slope and Brooklyn Technical High School in Fort Greene before going on to attend Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, where she graduated with a degree in Fine Art. She returned to Brooklyn and received her Master’s Degree in Visual Arts Administration from New York University in 1999.

As the new Chair for the NYC Council Committee on Women’s Issues, what are your goals for this upcoming Council session?
I want to understand the needs and priorities of New York City women to better address their concerns through sound legislation and partnerships. I am taking a page out of Hillary Clinton’s book of doing a listening tour to hear directly from women all over the City about key issues as well as solutions to the challenges that are preventing women from obtaining the equality we deserve. We are at a pivotal time in our city’s history where the number of women in leadership continues to increase, creating an opportunity like never before to move forward with initiatives that will positively impact both women and families.

As Chair of the NYC Committee on Women’s Issues in 2014, I will collaborate with my colleagues and community advocates to increase the number of contracts awarded to MWBEs, promote diversity and hiring of women within the municipal workforce, continue the fight for comprehensive paid maternity leave, answer the call for child care and address public safety matters related to domestic violence and street harassment.

What are your thoughts on the Mayor’s recent agreement with Speaker Mark-Viverito on paid sick leave?
I am a proud supporter of the paid sick leave bill, which was signed into law by Mayor de Blasio earlier this year. The expansion of coverage to include an additional 500,000 New Yorkers is a win for families across this city that will no longer have to choose between job security, their personal health, and the welfare of their families.

How has climate change impacted your District and what are some of your goals to address climate change?
Climate change has become a part of the national dialogue in response to the multiple natural disasters that have occurred in recent years. The 35th Council district is located in central Brooklyn, which felt the impacts of recent tornadoes, hurricanes and extreme temperature fluctuations. Environmental sustainability is a priority for my constituency. Many of the local academic, cultural, and social institutions have upgraded their facilities with new technology that conserves energy and reduces waste. Through community engagement and partnerships, we can assess the current impact of climate change across our city and state to identify effective methods and practices that will preserve our environment for future generations.

In August 2013, local elected officials, environmental activists, and concerned citizens took the first step in introducing legislation to reduce plastic bag use by as much as 90%. I have joined with my colleagues to reintroduce the bill in the City Council and shine light on this critical environmental issue. New Yorkers use 5.2 billion carryout bags per year, the vast majority of which are not recycled. In addition, New York City pays an estimated $10 million to transport 100,000 tons of discarded plastic bags to landfills in other states each year.

With a number of new Council members (including yourself), a new mayor and a new Speaker, how do you see these changes impacting public housing in New York City?
From the de Blasio Administration to the City Council, leadership changes in New York City represent new perspectives and a fresh new approach to addressing community concerns. Public housing, particularly downsizing, is an issue that adversely impacts many of our constituents. We have a collective responsibility to fulfill our obligation to the residents of this city who have given us their vote of confidence to act in their best interest.

Many of the Council Members, including myself, have already begun to rally behind our seniors who are the most susceptible to unfair housing practices, which will increase homelessness through wrongful evictions. Our seniors have already paid their dues and deserve to remain in their homes and respective communities. It is inhumane to rob these men and women of their dignity by displacing them through rent increases or downsizing. I look forward to working alongside my colleagues in City Council, under the leadership of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and the de Blasio Administration to enact legislation that will protect New Yorkers from housing and real estate predators.


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