Development group in area supports repowering

Through this letter, we add our voice to the many who support repowering the NRG coal-fueled power plant in Dunkirk with state-of-the-art natural gas power. We are the Local Economic Development Committee of the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation. We fully support the efforts of PowerUpNYS to add the Dunkirk NRG plant to New York State’s “Energy Highway.”

This conversion is the right decision for many reasons. We will generate dramatically cleaner energy and improve air quality in Western New York by reducing all major emissions. In contrast, closing of the plant would inexorably lead to purchase of electricity from coal burning plants from surrounding states that are far dirtier than the improved coal-fired boilers in Dunkirk.

NRG is prepared to invest $500 million into this plant, and into our future. The Dunkirk plant can be a major factor in connecting the energy generating capacity of Western New York with downstate communities in need of reliable energy sources. This investment will also improve reliability by alleviating the need for many costly transmission upgrades, while creating best-in-class electricity generation for Western New York.

At the same time the Public Service Commission will be following your directives, and consider the economic impact of your decision:

500 jobs will be created during the 36-month construction cycle, and more than 24 jobs will be added to the plant employment after the repowered plant is commissioned.

Chautauqua County will keep its largest taxpayer, and the city of Dunkirk will retain the plant that pays fully 42 percent of its taxes.

The situation is critical. Closing the plant will have a massive impact on employment, tax revenues and future private investment in the City and the local region.

We, the Local Economic Development Committee, began in early 2011 as an independent volunteer group of business leaders. Since that beginning, the LEDC has developed for itself and for the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation a position of regional leadership in economic development. This is being achieved in a way that complements the Community Foundation’s notable strengths in companion sectors of community development.

Our “private sector” approach will only realize its potential to the extent we can effectively engage other major players. Therefore, we are engaged with county leaders and agencies, individual municipalities and the Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corp. In addition to bringing private and public sectors together, SUNY Fredonia and Jamestown Community College are crucial partners in our LED process.

We are proud to add our voice to these prominent leaders in Northern Chautauqua County in our support for NRG and its proposal to repower its Dunkirk plant.

John “Jay” Warren is chairman of the LED Committee of the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation. For more information, visit www.nccfoundation.org/Initiatives/EconomicDevelopment