The countdown continues on the future of NRG Dunkirk.
Whether or not the coal-fired plant is replaced with a new, natural gas-fired plant, is awaiting a decision from the state's Public Service Commission.
The PSC is scheduled to meet Dec. 19 in Albany, but whether or not the issue is decided in less than two weeks, or carries over into 2014, supporters of the plan are looking for continued community support. A rally Saturday at the city's Boardwalk Market is just part of the final push.
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce (left) and Kevin Muldowney (right), a staffer in Sen. Catharine Young’s office, were at the city’s Senior Center Wednesday morning to gather signatures on petition cards supporting the repowering of NRG Dunkirk.
Scheduled for 11 a.m., the event is set to last about an hour. With some level of winter weather likely, participants should dress accordingly.
Mayor Anthony J. Dolce acknowledged it has been a lengthy process.
"We know this issue has gone on for quite some time but we're confident we're in the home stretch here," he said during Tuesday's Common Council meeting. "We feel that the PSC will be making a decision in the next couple months so we really urge you to come out and support that."
The support effort continued Wednesday as Dolce, along with Kevin Muldowney from Sen. Catharine Young's staff, were at the city's Senior Center gathering signatures on petition cards that will be sent directly to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.
As for attendance at Saturday's rally, Dolce said organizers were hoping for as many people as possible to attend.
"We know the weather is going to be a little tough, but considering what the issue is and the great support that the community has shown so far, we're really excited about the turnout and we're even more excited that we're coming close to a resolution on the situation," he stated. "This is being spearheaded by Sen. Young's office. Of course Assemblyman Goodell, myself, and plenty of other stakeholders that have been involved from the get-go, we're all extremely excited that we're close to a resolution and we need the community support one more time.
"We need you one more time and braving the elements and voicing those concerns. Even though it's taking so long to get an answer, it doesn't make the issue any less vital to our area. We're feeling our best case is within the next three months, February at the latest, so we really think now is the time to put in one last push."
Dolce noted the PSC doesn't have to set its agenda until Dec. 13 for the Dec. 19 meeting, and the agenda could change once its set.
"We figured better safe than sorry, start the push now. Even if they don't make that final decision this month, you know it's coming up likely in the next couple," he added. "These events urging the governor's support and the PSC's, I think that's our best case, our best option, of getting the ear of the governor. Whether it's the direct mail pieces ... or having everyone go to the PowerUPWNY.org website, any of that is extremely helpful."
When she announced the rally in late November, Young stated there was a "great possibility" the PSC would vote on NRG repowering Dec. 19.
"This is a way for the community to show their enthusiastic support again, prior to that meeting. It's really our last chance to come out to convince the PSC and the governor. ... We're hoping for broad-based support," she stated.
A former employee of the Dunkirk plant, Gus Potkovick, weighed in as well.
"This is my first week of retirement after a 30-year career at the Dunkirk Power Plant. It is fitting that the rally should occur on Pearl Harbor Day. After paying respect to our veterans, our area must be vigilant and stand and fight for what is right, and importing power from another state or country to close Dunkirk Power is a sneak attack that we must not allow to happen," Potkovick stated. "The power is needed and our citizens deserve its share of gainful employment that the plant provides, as well as the numerous services supported by the taxes paid and the charities we support".
The repowering issue has been before the PSC since January of this year when it instituted a proceeding to examine repowering alternatives to utility power plant reinforcements and directed National Grid to work with NRG to evaluate repowering of the plant.
NRG announced plans to mothball the coal-fired Dunkirk plant in March 2012 due to economic reasons. By September 2012, the plant had moved to running its two smallest generators to meet reliability needs. PSC's order to run two generators was later reduced this June to having the plant run just one of the smaller 100 megawatt generators to provide the power National Grid needed to meet its customers' needs until May 2015.
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