Entergy Drops Lawsuit, NRG Expected To Reconvene Commitment

DUNKIRK — The sale of a power plant in central New York could lead to a green light for the repowering of NRG’s Dunkirk plant.

According to State Sen. Catharine Young, the sale of Entergy to Exelon allowed the federal lawsuit against NRG to be withdrawn on Friday.

At the end of 2013, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a $150-million, 10-year agreement for repowering and expansion of the coal-fired plant to natural gas. The lawsuit by Entergy was cited as a factor in putting that project on hold, until now.

“Once the lawsuit is permanently dismissed, NRG is prepared to move forward with the project assuming all other stakeholders continue to meet their previous commitments to the project. Some of these stakeholders include the New York Public Service Commission, National Grid, National Fuel Gas and (Empire State Development),” NRG Spokesman David Gaier said.

State and local officials and the community have shown their support for the project with several rallies to see the plant repowered.

“It is the news that Dunkirk has been praying for — NRG is ready to repower now that Entergy has dropped its lawsuit. I am confident that Gov. Cuomo and the Public Service Commission will keep the promise they made to the people of Dunkirk by continuing to support the contract between NRG and National Grid that will repower the NRG coal plant into a clean, natural gas plant to bring back jobs, stabilize the tax base, reduce costs for consumers and provide base load energy to manufacturing to secure Western New York’s future,” Young said. “The lawsuit has held up progress for three years, but now the clouds have lifted. The contract still is in place, and there should be no impediments.”

Gaier said NRG is prepared to start where it left off pending the commitments of all stakeholders.

“As soon as it’s practical, NRG intends to resume our development, planning and engineering work on Dunkirk. I can’t give you a precise time table, but our intention is to resume work as soon as possible,” he said, adding these types of projects are complex and although he cannot predict future challenges, the intention is to move forward as soon as possible.

In t he short-term Young and Assemblyman Andy Goodell helped t o secure state transition aid for the city of Dunkirk, Dunkirk City School District and Chautauqua County for the loss of tax revenue due to decreased plant operations. Young said the long-term solution to that revenue issue is the repowering of the plant, which in addition to restoring jobs, will revitalize NRG’s payment in lieu of tax agreement.

“This is great news. Again, I thank the governor, Cathy Young and Andy Goodell for all the support they’ve provided and I think this is a very good thing to happen now because ultimately this is what we want — we want repowering. That’s also going to save us some jobs, I  think that’s important right now.  … I hope  the PSC is going to continue to support the repowering of that plant,” Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas said.

Young said, while the release of the lawsuit is a big step, the community must continue to show its support for the project.

“I will be working with community leaders so we once again will raise our voices together. They need to hear us in Albany,” she said.

Congressman Tom Reed said he is going to remain involved with Young and Goodell on this issue.

“We have worked tirelessly for the repowering of NRG, including personal meetings with Entergy officials, because we care about local jobs and taxpayers.  It’s only right that we remain committed to working with all the stakeholders on this initiative, including NRG, National Grid, the PSC and local and state officials to see this through to a successful victory,” he said in a statement.