Comment period coming to close

Editor, OBSERVER:

Members of the Dunkirk Area Labor Council, the Southwest Building Trades, Chautauqua County Labor Coalition, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier stand together in strong support of the NRG Repowering project. The coming together of labor and the business community reinforce the broad community support for the NRG project and how critically important it is to the community.

Our organizations stay in touch with one another on a variety of economic and workforce development initiatives, the repowering of the NRG facility has certainly been a focal point of our collaborative efforts to promote economic development. It is critical that we remain in the business of manufacturing electrical power in Dunkirk in an effort to preserve the jobs at the facility, maintain our tax base and invest in our local economy by creating 400 jobs during the construction period.

This is a critically important private investment of $500 million in the Western New York economy. Moreover this is an investment that will help all New Yorkers. It is estimated that the project will reduce the annual wholesale cost of electric energy for New York consumers by $142 million per year. The project estimates that it will reduce the cost of wholesale power and very importantly reduce the reliance on out-of-state generation. The economic impact of this project for New York State is substantial as the project will increase the gross state product over the same period of operation on average of $348 million per year. Repowering the NRG Dunkirk facility brings value to all of New York State.

In addition to the economic benefits of the project there are significant environmental implications to this project as building the new Dunkirk plant will decrease New York generators’ aggregate annual sulfur emissions by as much as 6 percent, nitrogen by as much as 4.5 percent, and carbon by as much as 1.3 percent. It is important to consider this in the context that failure by the state to permit repowering this project will reduce power generation capacity in the state. It will then have to purchase of out of state power generated from a variety of sources including coal. Repowering the NRG Dunkirk facility will reinforce New York state’s commitment to clean energy generation.

The loss of the Dunkirk NRG facility will drive up taxes for all of Chautauqua County’s taxpayers. The Dunkirk NRG facility is the largest taxpayer in all of Chautauqua County. Loss of the facility will devastate the city of Dunkirk and its school district. Both of these entities have had economic challenges, like many cities and school districts in Western New York. The loss of tax base if the NRG Dunkirk facility is not repowered will undermine any potential of rebuilding the City of Dunkirk and providing high quality education in the Dunkirk Schools. If Western New York is to thrive economically, businesses and residents need access to cost effective and reliable power. The NRG Dunkirk repowering project will help provide both cost effective and reliable energy solution to consumers while also helping maintain the tax base and contributing significantly to the regional economy.

It is important to note that repowering projects and the development of transmission infrastructure are not mutually exclusive options. The reality is that we need both. To move power generation capacity to locations where there is demand there needs to be investments New York’s transmission systems along with investments in power generation facilities. New York state can control its energy destiny by permitting energy investments that enhance transmission and keep the state in business of manufacturing energy and maintain local jobs.

We urge members of our community to take a few minutes before the deadline of Friday, August 16th and provide comments in support of the plan by writing to this address: Chairman Garry A. Brown & Acting Secretary Jeffrey Cohen, NYS Public Service Commission, Agency Bldg. 3, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223. Please reference Case # 12-E-0577. In addition, you may send comments and concerns to Hon. Andrew Cuomo, Governor, New York State, Executive Chamber, NYS Capitol, Albany, NY 12224. Or, if you prefer, you can find a link directly to the PSC’s online comment page for this case through the Power Up Western New York Web-site at www.powerupwny.org.

This letter was submitted by Doug Stock, president, Dunkirk Area Labor Council; Steve Thorpe, president, Southwest Building Trades; Todd Tranum, president, Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Manufacturers Association and David Wilkinson, business manager, IBEW Local 106