When local officials launched a notify-Albany campaign about the need to keep NRG Dunkirk open, some wondered whether it would do any good. The verdict is still out on NRG Dunkirk's future, but at least Albany officials have paid some attention.
City of Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce was one of those who contacted Albany leaders and his communications have been acknowledged, including from New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
"I did receive a response from Assemblyman Silver thanking me for contacting his office about the future of NRG and that they are working with the governor and Senate on this issue," Dolce stated. "A rep from the Governor's office also reached out."
New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver
The OBSERVER also received a reply to its e-mail expressing concern about the NRG Dunkirk plant's future. Silver sent his thanks for the concern and said he appreciated hearing about "this important issue."
"The Assembly is committed to working with the Governor and the Senate to make the right choices and ensure that New York's electric power grid is as efficient and secure as possible," Silver continued. "Please be assured that I will keep your support for the power plant in mind during future discussions. You may also wish to share your views with your local Assembly and Senate representatives."
Silver goes on to point out the Assembly's website - www.assembly.state.ny.us - is available as a resource for information on state government and issues facing the state.
"Again, thank you for taking the time to share your concerns and for becoming involved in this important process," Silver added. "Your input helps me better serve our state."
At stake in "this important issue," as the speaker called it, is the future of the NRG Dunkirk facility and its economic impact on Chautauqua County, in particular the city of Dunkirk and the Dunkirk City School District.
In addition to the $20 million to $22 million in salaries and benefits for employees, the NRG Dunkirk facility spends some $10 million in Western New York. In 2008-09 the company spent over $200 million making the facility a state-of-the-art generating plant. A payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement schedules NRG Dunkirk to pay a combined $8.6 million payment in 2012; $8.4 million in 2013 and $8.2 million in 2014.
The breakdown by percentage shows the county gets 18.71 percent; the city gets 32.34 percent and the Dunkirk City School District gets 48.95 percent of the annual PILOT payment. The actual amount collected under the PILOT agreement hinges on the operating capacity the plant has online.
The state's Public Service Commission has until September to release the results of its reliability study concerning the need for power, if any and how much, from NRG Dunkirk. The New York Power Authority is also being looked to for help with efforts underway to have NYPA purchase power from the Dunkirk facility under the ReCharge New York program that provides power allocations for eligible businesses.
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