DUNKIRK – Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning) says that he is continuing in his effort to help save the NRG power plant in Dunkirk by converting it from a coal-burning plant to a natural gas burning facility.
Currently, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) is considering whether or not the state should spend nearly half a billion dollars in the PowerUpWNY program, which would allow the NRG Plant in Dunkirk and another in Central New York to convert from a coal-burning plant to a natural gas burning plant. A public comment period for the proposal is already underway and will continue until July 26.
Congressman Reed says he’s already done a couple of things to throw his support behind the project.
“We have formally submitted a letter to the PSC indicating our strong support for the re-powering application, because that is one of our highest priorities throughout the district and in particular the Dunkirk and Chautauqua County area,” Reed said. “We’ve also reached out personally to [PSC Commissioner] Gary Brown and had a conversation with him for quite an extensive period of time about the needs and to make sure that re-powering project goes forward.”
In addition to contacting the PSC, Reed said he’s also planning to come to the county on Friday to push for public support for the project.
“We’re likely to be in Chautauqua County at the end of this week to highlight the need for this re-powering project,” Reed explained. “It’s not just about the short-term, but also the long-term. Short-term, we know about the devastating impact that it would have on the local community in regards to the loss of the tax base and the jobs that are associated with the facility. But long-term, we have to make sure we have the energy to re-boost the manufacturing sector of the Southern Tier.”
Reed’s scheduled appearance on Friday comes just before a public hearing on the NRG Power Plant re-powering plan, which is being hosted by the PSC and will take place July 15 at 6 p.m. at SUNY Fredonia.
NRG is the largest tax contributor in Chautauqua County. The coal-burning power plant was mothballed last year and officials have since been working to re-open it as a natural gas power plant.
Supporters say that by keeping it open, it will help preserve jobs and provide over a million dollars in tax support for the county and local governments. Critics say the plan is not cost-effective for all of New York and that there are other plans on the table that would be more beneficial for utility customers throughout the state.