DUNKIRK – It appears the fate of the county’s largest property tax payer is once again in jeopardy.
The Dunkirk Observer is reporting that the repowering of the NRG generating plant in Dunkirk from coal to natural gas is once again facing uncertainty.
In 2013, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the Dunkirk-based power plant would repower and be converted from a coal burning facility to a natural gas facility.
But lawsuits and other delays have halted the conversion, and the plant has remained shuddered the past several years. However, it was expected to come back online eventually, but that now seems doubtful.
Due to the unanticipated cost of interconnecting the plant to the regional electrical power system and the schedule in getting it done, NRG officials say it may be too costly to reconnect the plant to the power grid once it is converted.
The New York Independent System Operator manages the state’s electrical grid and its competitive wholesale markets. It recently said that the cost of the interconnection could exceed $100 million. The entire repowering project is estimated to be about $15 million.
In response, Sen. Cathy Young stated that the repowering of NRG has been a high priority with a lot of work taking place between state and local officials and stakeholders throughout the community. She said it was outrageous that the system operator has put the entire project at risk with the estimate cost of interconnecting, especially with the conversion process moving into its final phases.
Young said she will continue working with NRG officials to ensure the project comes to fruition.
Prior to being shuddered, the plant was the county’s largest property tax payer and it also made significant tax payments to both the city of Dunkirk and Dunkirk School District. It continues to make PILOT payments as it proceeds through the conversion process and New York State has also offered funding to help offset the loss of local tax dollars due to the plant being mothballed.