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Grassroots Bulletin

September Newsletter

Con Edison Helps Students Solve Real World Problems         


This summer, Con Edison presented a Solar Power Case Study to a group of students at Energy Tech High School in Queens.  Energy Tech is an early college and career high school that offers students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma, an associate degree and important energy industry training and credentials. Energy Tech is a partnership between the NYC Department of Education, CUNY, Con Edison and National Grid.

Over the summer, field engineering supervisors from Con Edison, teachers, and a Con Edison non-profit partner, Solar One, collaborated to guide students through a real world problem-solving process. Students were assigned to work as consultants for a company interested in the potential benefits and risks of installing a photovoltaic (PV) system. Daniel Dabek and Jackie Wong of Con Edison worked closely with the students frequently visiting Energy Tech to provide feedback and answer questions.

For two weeks, the engineering students worked to determine a solution that included a PV cost analysis, the net present value, utility costs, risks, benefits, and the overall viability of a photovoltaic system. In the fourth week, students presented their findings to an audience of industry and educational professionals at LaGuardia Community College. Upon completion of the case study, student Arthur Rocha stated, “The case study provided by Con Edison gave me a new perspective on how I need to get prepared for the market. Therefore, with their help, I was able to develop skills and gain knowledge on how we are always able to find alternatives to consume less energy and help the environment.”

This fall marks the second year of Energy Tech’s existence. Daniel Dabek who worked closely with the student on the project noted that “The fact that they are successfully completing collegiate level work on a really challenging subject matter is a testament to the efforts of everyone involved.”  

Beyond extensive curriculum support and mentoring Con Edison also funds a FIRST Robotics team at the school.  


Gubernatorial Candidate Rob Astorino Unveils Jobs Plan     

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino unveiled a jobs plan last month that calls for renewing the operating license of the Indian Point nuclear plant in Westchester County, cutting energy taxes and regulations, allowing hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas and using a $3.6 billion bank settlement to repair roads, bridges and mass transit.

Astorino describes his jobs plan as “a straightforward reform agenda to improve the business climate and promote economic growth in New York State.”  The plan includes numerous energy-related initiatives such as supporting the deployment of renewable energy resources and energy efficiency programs.

Astorino’s plan calls for a repeal of the 18-a assessment which is paid by all customers through their utility bills. The assessment was increased six-fold as part of the 2009-2010 State Budget. Originally scheduled to expire this year, the increase was extended through 2017 in last year’s budget.  Repealing this onerous tax has been a priority of the business community and Con Edison since its enactment.

Another component of the jobs plan is to use SBC (Systems Benefit Charge) funds to pay for expanding natural gas distribution lines into areas of the state where natural gas is not available.  The intention is to help overcome some of the barriers to extending natural gas lines by providing assistance with financing. Con Edison and the state’s other utilities have championed this effort, supporting legislation that would achieve this goal.

Astorino also supports the renewal of Indian Point Energy Center’s licenses.  This is in direct contrast to Governor Cuomo who has called for closing the Indian Point facility. The license for one of Indian Point’s two reactors expired in 2013, though it is allowed to continue operating while it seeks a license extension from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The operating license for Indian Point’s second reactor expires in late 2015.

Finally, the Astorino plan calls for alleviating energy transmission congestion and upgrading the power grid.  Similarly, in 2012, Governor Cuomo announced the “Energy Highway” initiative which is intended to modernize the state’s energy transmission system by relieving the energy transmission bottlenecks that make it difficult to bring power generated upstate to New York City-area consumers. 

2014 Federal Election Politics: A Snapshot    

In the run up to the 2014 Congressional elections, there is still no clear trend emerging to tell us how the electorate may vote.  Pollsters, however, continue to note several indicators pointing to a Republican advantage which may enable the Republicans to maintain control of the U.S. House of Representatives and potentially win control of the U.S. Senate.

Why the challenges for Democrats?  For starters, President Obama is facing the usual second-term slump.  The causes of the President’s low approval rating (39-46% depending on the poll) potentially stem from challenges with the economy, ongoing crisis in the Middle East and Ukraine, immigration concerns, the Affordable Care Act and operational problems at Veterans Affairs (VA) and the IRS.  In addition, history tells us that the party that controls the White House usually loses seats in the midterm election, especially, the second midterm.  The party of the President has lost Congressional seats in all but 3 of the last 26-midterm elections and the average loss of House seats in a second term, midterm election is 33 House seats and 7 Senate seats.

In the House of Representatives, Democrats need to win a net of 17 seats to regain the majority.  While not an insurmountable margin, the table is stacked against them based on where the competitive seats are located.  While Congress’ approval rating is much lower than the President’s at 11%, there are still only a handful of competitive races.  One leading political analyst, Stuart Rothenberg, identifies only 17 pure toss up races out of 435 races nationwide.  Democrats currently hold thirteen of the 17 toss up seats and are therefor on the defensive where the pickup opportunities are greatest.

The Senate is considered “up for grabs” as Republicans need just six seats to take control.  Here again, history and the playing field favor Republicans.  Since World War II, the average second term midterm loss for the President’s party is six Senate seats.  The states where the competitive races are taking place have been trending Republican in recent years.  Democrats will be defending seats in states that Mitt Romney won in 2012 such as Alaska, Louisiana, Arkansas, North Carolina, Montana and South Dakota, and West Virginia. 

In the tri-state area, only a handful of races are competitive. These include the following:

    • NY-11 (Staten Island/Brooklyn) – Leans Democrat – Currently held by Congressman Michael Grimm (R).  Grimm will face Domenic Recchia (D).
    • NY-18 (Orange and Putnam Counties) – Democrat Favored – Incumbent Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D) is running against the member he unseated only two years ago – Nan Hayworth (R).
    • NY-19 (Hudson Valley/Catskills) – Toss Up – Incumbent Congressman Chris Gibson (R) will face Sean Eldridge (D).
    • NJ-3 (Burlington and Ocean Counties) – Toss Up – Currently held by retiring Congressman Jon Runyan (R). The two candidates competing for the open seat are Thomas MacArthur (R) and Aimee Belgarde (D).  

Con Edison Launches Get Out the Vote Video Contest for New York City and Westchester High School Students   

As we head into election season, Con Edison is challenging students to show us why voting is important.  They just need to shoot and upload a video that delivers the message in 90 seconds or less.  The first place winner scores an Apple gift card worth $1,000.  Second- and third-place winners finish with Apple gift cards worth $500 and $250, respectively. 

For more information and contest rules, visit ConEdison.Votigo.com. Help us cultivate the next generation of civic leaders by sharing the contest webpage.  Please note that legal requirements prohibit immediate family members of Con Edison employees from entering. 



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