We strongly believe that it cannot be stressed enough how vital the repowering of the NRG plant in Dunkirk is. It is not only vital for Dunkirk but also Chautauqua County and Western New York. In fact, it is necessary for all of New York state.
NRG's proposed $500 million investment to convert the existing coal-fired plant to a natural gas plant is an action that would continue to provide the generation of electric power, improvement of the environment, and creation and preservation of jobs. It will also not only reduce New York's reliance on the delivery of power generated out-of-state, but will go far in beginning much needed improvements to the energy transmission infrastructure within New York state.
The project proposed by the NRG plant in Dunkirk is one that envisions the future of energy. During the Public Service Commission hearing at Fredonia State University's Williams Center, NRG representatives relayed they would also be able to use other types of clean renewable energy sources such as solar or wind powered energy.
In the past three years the health and human service agencies serving Chautauqua County have seen numerous funding cuts in state and federal monies. These cuts have come on top of a precipitous increase in needing the services they provide - basic necessity services such as food, shelter, and clothing. Another hit to our local economy would further stretch these very same agencies.
Loss of the facility would be economically devastating to the City of Dunkirk, the Dunkirk school district, and to the entire county. As the single largest taxpayer in Chautauqua County, the loss of the NRG plant would drive up the tax burden. The existing tax burden is already difficult for many of those residing in Chautauqua County. Two of these groups, the elderly and the working poor, could easily be crushed by a rising tax rate. Instead, if the PSC votes to have this project move forward, the communities, neighborhoods, families, and individual residents of Chautauqua County would be strengthened.
The name Public Service Commission implies public service. That goes beyond the regulation of utilities in this State and your mission shall be to ensure the public is protected.
Your mission will be best fulfilled in this instance by approving the repowering of the NRG plant.
James Subjack is board president and Deborah Tederous is the executive director of the United Way of Northern Chautauqua County.