NRG Company Reaffirms Commitment To Repower, School Says

DUNKIRK — NRG Energy Inc. has reaffirmed its commitment to repower its mothballed power plant, according to Dunkirk City School District officials.

Dunkirk Business Administrator William Thiel reported at Thursday’s board of education meeting that NRG representatives stated they are proceeding with the early steps of their repowering project. The representatives made that clear during a conference call hosted by New York state Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean.

“There’s a lot of people involved (with getting the repowering going), a lot of government agencies that have to approve, so it’s complex, but the company indicates it’s committed to continuing down that path,” Thiel explained.

“So, we’ve formed a little group and we’ll be getting regular updates. We’ll know more each month, I hope. A lot of different organizations in the state government have to line up, and we’ll be engaging in a letter-writing campaign to sort of raise our profile and let people know how we feel about it.”

Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Tracy noted other local officials on the conference call included Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas and Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan.

“Basically, it was just good news,” Tracy added. “It looks as though all the roadblocks have been moved and things are full steam ahead. As a district, we’re certainly going to send a number of letters and encourage that process to keep going.”

Tracy hopes the repowering takes place sooner rather than later, as the district still faces budget constraints with a dramatically reduced payment in lieu of taxes from NRG. Transition aid from the state is helping to offset that massive revenue loss, but the aid will decrease over a period of five years.

“If it (the repowering) is only a couple of years, it’s still going to be tough,” Tracy admitted. “We’re getting the reduced amount each year to get us through, the mitigation funds; every year, it’s less and less. But overall, we’re looking at long-term; to have that up and running for this community is great knowledge for the community, but financially, it’s going to allow us to keep a lot of jobs and keep class sizes reasonable.”

A question about a set timeline for the repowering was raised during the conference call, but none was provided, Tracy pointed out.