The coalition of people working to secure the future of electricity production in Dunkirk will hold a press conference Thursday at 1 p.m. on the city pier.
Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards made the announcement Monday through his weekly Monday Morning Memo. New York State Sen. Catharine Young chairs the coalition, which also includes Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce, the county, city and Dunkirk school district, NRG Energy, Inc. officials and members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. In addition, Edwards stated the coalition includes "a large number of other entities which will benefit from this effort."
Edwards' memo said NRG leaders will be in Dunkirk to present their business plan.
OBSERVER File Photo
Pictured is the view of NRG Energy, Inc.’s Dunkirk plant from the overlook along Point Drive North in the city.
"The exciting announcement that will be highlighted will be the efforts under way to secure the conversion of the existing coal-fired electric plant to a natural gas-powered production facility," Edwards stated in his memo. "The route to this transition will be the proposed construction of a gas line, the possible co-generation using coal and gas, to ultimately a gas-only facility. This effort could result in the largest construction project ever completed in the history of Chautauqua County."
The event is part of ongoing efforts to keep the NRG power plant operating in Dunkirk. The company's proposal for the Dunkirk Combined Cycle Repowering and Huntley Gas Co-Firing Conversion was announced as part of a release on New York's Energy Highway Task Force website. NRG's Huntley plant is located in Tonawanda. NRG was among some 85 organizations responding to Requests for Information by the task force.
"I'm really excited about the press conference because it's going to be an opportunity to launch the website and logo for the coalition. People will get the information if they attend," Edwards told the OBSERVER. "Everyone in the county should be supportive of a $700 million investment in the county. It's hard to put together the amount of impact that would have.
"This is really our opportunity to take this issue on as our own and it's the most important thing to be working on. If people get out and physically show their support for this effort - that would be great."
Edwards added the project - if approved - would be the largest single construction project in Chautauqua County history.
"It's very exciting and the more we can do to explain to folks to come, to reward themselves for their calls and emails, they can say this is an important issue and now Albany has to step up to the plate. The more people who attend the more of a message it sends to Gov. Cuomo."
Dolce said he was excited to be a coalition member.
"The press conference is basically a kickoff event to help NRG bring awareness to their cause," Dolce stated. "I'm just glad to be a part of it."
Goodell said Young was the driving force in Albany behind the effort.
"Every one wrote to Gov. Cuomo asking for his support, which would be a tremendous win-win for Dunkirk and Chautauqua County, an investment of over $700 million, making it a state-of-the-art, clean-burning, natural gas facility," Goodell explained. "... It dovetails with the governor's economic development initiative for western New York. A major employer who comes or expands needs to be assured of reliable and reasonable-cost energy."
Young, for her part, wanted to wait until the press conference, but did have one point to make.
"It's a major development and very positive for our future," she said.
Even if coalition members efforts to have a large turnout for the 1 p.m. event are wildly successful, the pier should be able to accommodate the crowd.
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