Region appears to have lost fight for NRG

Nearly 2 1/2 years ago, Oswego County was in the same boat as northern Chautauqua County. Its James A. Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant was in a fight for its life.

Instead of keeping its fingers crossed, officials there went on the offensive with ad campaigns aimed at pressuring the state and Public Service Commission to keep the plant there operating. “We’re going to fight for FitzPatrick’s jobs, and we need Governor (Andrew) Cuomo with us,” said Gary Toth of Carpenters Local 277. “He can make a deal with Entergy; he can revise the way carbon credits are administered; he can address the transmission constraints that keep power generated at FitzPatrick from reaching Downstate markets; or he can help find a buyer for this top-notch facility.”

It apparently had an impact as the state gave FitzPatrick the green light. It is still producing power.

Here, we’re in shutdown mode. Recent events indicate our facility may be going the same way as Huntley in Tonawanda. We could have one more empty — and huge — building unoccupied on prime property.

This problem is not all about NRG Energy Inc., which was a tremendous community supporter since it purchased the plant from Niagara Mohawk in the late ’90s. It is about the changing landscape of power. The renewable energy, highly subsidized but a part of everyone’s agenda. A deregulated industry that has suppliers and delivery companies. And, dirty coal plants — not allowed to operate here — but helping fuel our region’s electrical needs from Homer City, Pa.

We fought hard in 2012 and 2013 to repower NRG. We thought we had this thing won.

Talks continue behind the scenes, but what was optimism two months ago has become a much darker scenario.