Thumbs up to good news regarding the NRG power plant in Dunkirk. The state budget includes language requiring the Public Service Commission to take into consideration the fact that repowering existing facilities provides greater benefits than importing power or local transmission upgrades. Now, the importance of NRG to the city of Dunkirk and Chautauqua County as a whole will be taken into account s the Public Service Commission considers NRG's proposal to convert its coal facility to an advanced combined-cycle natural gas plant. Then, an independent study was released showing repowering of the Dunkirk generating station would be more beneficial to ratepayers, while providing more economic benefit than simply importing power. On Friday, we wrote about the importance of Chautauqua Lake to the county's tax base. NRG is even more important. This week's developments are wonderful news for every taxpayer in Chautauqua County.
Two thumbs down to a state tipline that offers a $500 reward for those who phone in tips regarding illegal weapons. The tip line - which will be further explained in a comprehensive campaign - will be staffed by state police 24 hours a day, and will remain anonymous and focus on individuals with illegal firearms. If information leads to an arrest for illegal possession of a firearm, the person providing the tip will be awarded $500. Most people have no idea what an illegal firearm looks like, which means the tip line is likely to be inundated with worthless tips on your typical, run-of-the-mill hunting shotgun or rifle. It hasn't come out yet how much the state is budgeting for this "program," but anything more than a penny is a waste of taxpayers' money.
As the season comes to a close, thumbs up to the dozens of volunteers who have worked hard this winter to keep snowmobile trails open. Snowmobile trails on state-owned land in Cherry Creek, maintained by the Cherry Creek Sno-Goers, were the last to remain open before warm weather turned the groomed snow trail into a muddy mess. The county has 450 miles of groomed trails maintained by members of county snowmobile clubs who work with private landowners and use groomers to maintain trails. It's a bittersweet day for the county's avid snowmobilers, but take heart - spring has to be on the way.