Dunkirk School officials ‘relieved’ by repowering approval

Thursday was a pretty good day for the Dunkirk City School District.

Now that the New York State Public Service Commission unanimously approved the repowering of the NRG Energy Dunkirk plant from coal to natural gas, Dunkirk School officials said they are “relieved” with the outcome, which ensures a continuation of the payment in lieu of taxes agreement sustaining the district.

Coincidentally, Dunkirk officials gathered for a board of education meeting the same day news broke about the PSC granting the repowering. Those who attended the meeting gave a round of applause once Board President Kenneth Kozlowski made the announcement.

Superintendent Gary Cerne had nothing but praise for the outcome.

“It seems like we’ve been at this for a long time, and I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “This news puts us on a road of very nice financial security for many years to come.”

Cerne wished to thank everyone involved with getting the repowering to the point it has gotten to today, including state Sen. Cathy Young, Assemblyman Andy Goodell and the general public, which came out in droves to support the repowering at two local rallies last year.

The PILOT agreement extension must now get hammered out between NRG and city, county and school officials. Negotiations should begin sometime this summer.

“We’ll get back to the drawing board with NRG now and clean that PILOT up, but the nice thing is that PILOT will stay in place,” Cerne added. “I’m sure things will move along. Everyone’s interested in getting it done soon so there is no breakage between PILOT payments.”

The NRG PILOT agreement currently contributes roughly $4 million each year to the school district, about 10 percent of its revenue.

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