Government Officials: NRG, State Share Blame For Failed Power Plant Project

DUNKIRK – State Sen. Cathy Young and Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello are not pleased with NRG’s decision to withdraw from the project to convert and repower the Dunkirk Power Plant.
Citing higher connection costs. NRG announced today it is withdrawing from the project to convert and repower the Dunkirk power plant from coal to natural gas.
“NRG has stuck a dagger in the heart of our community,” said Young in response to the decision.
Borrello expressed disappointment with NRG’s decision, but also acknowledged the state’s role in the apparent death of the project.

“I’m extremely disappointed in NRG’s decision to back away from re-powering. I’m still hopeful that we can work with our state representatives to find another power supplier re-open that plant. The power is desperately needed in Western NY as evidenced by the recent heat wave that saw electricity prices in Western NY spike to nearly double the rest of the state,” Borrello told WNYNewsNow.
“In order for us to be successful, NYISO and the governor need to acknowledge that natural gas is a cleaner option than the dirty coal plants that will be supplying backup power to the unreliable, inefficient industrial “green energy” projects that are overtaking our landscape in Chautauqua County,” he said.

In June, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), which has autonomy over projects such as this one, ruled NRG would have to pay as much as $115 million in additional funds to reconnect and repower the plant.
The State System Operator has said the additional costs arose because NRG took to long to actually reconnect the plant and had the plant gone online earlier, additional upgrades would not have been needed.
In June, Young called NYISO’s decision outrageous.
“The repowering of NRG in Dunkirk has been a high priority and the focus of years of intense negotiations, planning and investment on the part of NRG leadership, state and local officials and stakeholders throughout the community,” Young said. “That is why it is outrageous that NYISO has put the entire project at risk by stating that NRG’s cost to reconnect could exceed a staggering $100 million. To spring this on NRG now, as the process moves into its final phases, is reprehensible and raises many questions about NYISO’s methods and analysis.”
Borrello said in June that NYISO answers only to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and sometimes answers to no one. He called NYISO more “shadow government.”
NRG provides payments which Dunkirk, the Dunkirk City School District and Chautauqua County rely on, Young said. If the payments are lost, it would be “devastating” she said, adding local taxpayers would be hit with making up the difference of the lost payments.
Borrello said at one time, these payments made up about 40 percent of the budget for Dunkirk and the school district.
“Additionally, Western New York needs the energy that a repowered NRG plant would deliver to enhance its manufacturing sector and tax base. Placing these types of hardships on the private sector is why it is so difficult to do business in this state. NYISO needs to examine its own role in creating this challenging environment,” Young said.
“The NYISO is just another example of shadow government in New York State,” he said. “It’s like all the authorities, they have no accountability to anybody but the governor and even, in some cases, they go rogue on the governor which is what’s happening here,” Borrello said in June.
“They have the power to say who can regulate energy and who can’t. They have the power to say who can be in business. It’s disgusting. You’re talking about NRG, who had just converted to clean coal at the cost of about $300 million. Then they (NYISO) said ‘No,  you’ve got to go to natural gas’ and they said ‘Okay, we’re willing to spend another couple hundred million dollars’ and they said ‘Nope, we don’t want you to do this at all,’ ” Borrello said.
“It’s a quasi-government entity that operates outside the open government laws in secrecy. Ironically, people on the web site say it’s transparent. It’s about as transparent as mud. There is no legislative oversight. They are to promote a radical political agenda. They are raising the cost of energy for businesses and families throughout New York State and someone has to put a stop to it and I think the governor is the only one who can do that,” he added.