Repowering rally Dec. 7

Where will you be on Dec. 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.?

If you are interested in the upcoming decision the state’s Public Service Commission will make on repowering NRG in Dunkirk, the city pier will be the place to be on this year’s Pearl Harbor Day.

State Sen. Catharine Young has been at the forefront, along with other elected and union officials, in leading the effort to have NRG Dunkirk repowered from coal to natural gas.

“We’re planning it on the city pier and we’re hoping to exceed the 2,000 people who came out to the Public Service Commission hearing in July,” Young explained of the upcoming rally. “There’s a great possibility the PSC will vote on our project Dec. 19, so this is a way for the community to show their enthusiastic support again, prior to that meeting. It’s really our last chance to come out to convince the PSC and the governor.

“This is all about creating jobs, lowering energy costs, improving the environment and strengthening western New York’s economy, and also stabilizing our tax base, which is critically important. We’re hoping for broad-based support. We’ll have our elected officials there and a lot of community groups.

“The rally that we’re holding Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day, is a rallying cry. It’s a call to the community to show up because our future depends on having NRG repowered.”

While the PSC has yet to make a decision concerning repowering NRG Dunkirk, or another coal-fired plant owned by Cayuga Operating Company LLC, the issue has been under study since January of this year when the PSC instituted a proceeding to examine repowering alternatives to utility power plant reinforcements and directed National Grid to work with NRG to evaluate repowering of the plant.

NRG announced plans to mothball the Dunkirk plant in March 2012 due to economic reasons, the cost of natural gas left the coal-fired plant at too much of a competitive disadvantage. By September 2012, the plant had moved to running its two smallest generators to meet reliability needs. PSC’s order to run two generators was later reduced this June to having the plant operate just one of the smaller 100 megawatt generators to provide the power National Grid needed to meet its customer’s needs. That PSC directive to NRG Dunkirk will be in effect until May 2015.

Young added there is another part to the final push to get the repowering accomplished – the website has been changed to allow for an easier send of a letter to the governor’s office.

“There’s a way on the website you can send the governor a letter saying you support repowering so we’re asking people to get on the website,” she explained. “It’s really easy. All they have to do is hit on the first click here part and put in their name and address, that sort of thing, and then it will automatically send it.”

Young said support for repowering NRG is also coming from across the state, “because this is a way to grow our economy and create jobs.”

“We’re hopeful we can get a lot of participation, not only from our community, which is really important to show how much we support it, but also from across the state. We’re urging people to get on the website and help out,” Young continued. “I just think that we need maximum participation in order to be successful and here’s a way for people to get involved and have a positive impact on our future.

“We just need to underscore this has a profound impact on our economy and our community and we need to underscore that fact to the people in Albany.”

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