After further review, it appears the visit by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer has created more anxiety than necessary in regard to the future of NRG Energy Inc. in Dunkirk.
Last Monday, our senior senator came to implore that NRG pay more than $16 million to the county, city and its school district if the plant moves ahead with plans to "mothball" all or some of the units in 2013 and 2014. Despite repeated remarks by County Executive Greg Edwards on how NRG has been a good corporate citizen and has never missed a payment in lieu of taxes payment, Schumer's visit has left a sour taste with some, especially those who represent the plant.
"NRG is not giving up on Dunkirk," said Lee Davis, Northeast region president for NRG. "However, we have chosen a course that can ultimately preserve our plant for the long-term at Dunkirk. We are committed to working with local leaders to keep Dunkirk operating as long as possible, preserving jobs and the positive economic impact on local communities."
Even city officials who were not in attendance at the press conference on the pier were taken aback by comments. "I guess, being in banking, I'd have to liken it to a situation where if I walked into a bank where I could get a loan for three years and I paid on that loan for 2 1/2 years faithfully," said Dunkirk councilman Michael Michalski. "Then I get a letter from the bank saying you've got six months to go, don't skip out on the loan payments. I guess I would be kind of upset."
Our community's goal, which Schumer concurs with, is to keep the plant running for the future. That is a positive message.
Admonishing a partner who continues to work with area officials, however, rings of negativity.