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Schumer lends support for repowering Dunkirk power plant

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Ashley Hirtzel
/
WBFO News

Senator Charles Schumer is supporting a plan to switch the NRG Dunkirk plant from coal to natural gas. However, the plan is one of two options being considered by the state Public Service Commission.

The repowering plan comes as the NRG power plant in Dunkirk faces closure, with dropping natural gas prices making power from burning coal too expensive. Schumer says the fuel switch would protect the county tax base and create up to 500 jobs.

“We all know that if this plant were to close it would be devastating for this community and this region: loss of jobs, increased electricity rates and taxes for thousands of Chautauqua County families. So the closedown must be avoided at all costs,” said Schumer.

Repowering is not the only option. The other plan proposed by National Grid would upgrade transmission and delivery systems to bring in electricity from other places. But, State Senator Cathy Young says one of those upgrades would connect area transmission lines to the Homer City coal-burning plant in Pennsylvania.

“That is the dirtiest coal plant in the entire country, it’s been sued many times, and it’s being sued right at the moment by New York State. I don’t believe that we should be outsourcing our power to something that is so dirty and so detrimental to human health,” said Young.

Young says repowering is the only option that makes sense. However,  National Grid spokesman Steve Brady says the PSC asked the company to come up with a plan that would create the least amount of impact for local residents.

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Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News
NRG Dunkirk coal power plant

“What our transmission proposals would do is beef up the connection throughout the Southern Tier of New York including those interconnections with Pennsylvania. That’s done for reliability purposes. The decision as to whether any of the power of that plant comes to New York is not National Grid’s,” said Brady.

The PSC continues to take public comment on the topic until August 16.