DUNKIRK – The mothballed NRG power plant in Dunkirk could have a chance of reopening.
NRG Energy, the plant’s owner, said it will look to revive its original plan to convert the coal-burning power plant to run on natural gas. The announcement comes after another energy company – Entergy Corporation – announced it was dropping its lawsuit against NRG, which had blocked the project and led to the facility’s mothballing at the start of this year.
NRG announced in March 2012 that it would mothball the Dunkirk plant because it no longer was economically viable, but it agreed to keep operating the facility through 2015 to maintain the reliability of the region’s power grid after receiving more than $110 million in payments from National Grid ratepayers.
Senator Cathy Young (R-Olean) sent out a release on Monday, calling it news that Dunkirk has been praying for.
The plant was mothballed in early January, creating a massive hole in Dunkirk’s tax base. The state had stepped forward an offered emergency funding to offset the lost PILOT payments NRG had pulled from the county, city of Dunkirk, and Dunkirk School District – but that emergency funding was only temporary and didn’t provide long-term aid.
An NRG official told the Buffalo News the company is willing to move forward with its conversion plans, provided that other companies and agencies that were involved in the project still are interested in making the same commitments that they were before it was put on hold. National Fuel Gas Co., for instance, was preparing to build a pipeline to carry natural gas to the plant, but that agreement was terminated in May 2016. The state Public Service Commission also must back the project.
The NRG Power Plant is the largest taxpayer in Chautauqua County and employs over 100 people, with 50 more jobs expected once the full conversion takes place.