Young pushing for more NRG Dunkirk funds
ALBANY — Sen. Catharine Young (R-Olean) has announced that the Senate’s one-house budget resolution, passed Wednesday, includes language that would significantly enhance the state aid designed to offset the financial losses for Chautauqua County, the city of Dunkirk and the Dunkirk City School District as NRG repowers its Dunkirk plant.
“Last year, I successfully fought to create a $30 million mitigation fund for communities like ours, ensuring that local taxpayers would not have to experience financial hardship from the mothballing of a power plant. As part of this year’s Senate one-house budget resolution, I advocated for the inclusion of language that would double the mitigation fund to $60 million, so that an even greater share of the financial needs can be covered as the plant transitions into a clean, natural gas facility,” said Young.
“I have also secured language in the Senate’s budget plan that would ensure communities where power plants are being repowered would still qualify for the mitigation fund that I set up last year. This would safeguard county, city and school district taxpayers against financial hardship as repowering moves forward. I am still working to make our communities whole from the financial impacts they have already experienced, and I will fight to make sure that the assistance needed is secured in the final enacted budget,” Young said.
Chautauqua County, the city of Dunkirk and the Dunkirk City School District are estimated to see an $8 million loss of revenues in 2017 without the mitigation funds, because of the reduction in the payment in lieu of taxes from NRG. To assist property taxpayers, Young secured a state power plant mitigation fund last year to cover a portion of the lost revenues from the mothballing of a power plant.
The budget resolution adopted Wednesday by the Senate calls for the mitigation fund to be extended from five years to ten. It also states that in the second year, no community should receive less than 90 percent of the lost revenue, and that the state shall not reduce payments by more than 10 percent each year after, for the life of the fund.
“Our local taxpayers cannot afford huge property tax hikes. If the mitigation fund wasn’t there, we would face serious reductions of vital services, such as police and fire protection, and it would have serious consequences for our children’s education. Continuing the state funding will protect our community and school district from devastating losses,” Young said.
Young said that work on repowering is expected to start soon, but the project could take up to two years to complete.