NRG Energy looks to phase-out coal, run on natural gas
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DUNKIRK, N.Y. — In response to Governor Cuomo's plan to modernize existing energy infrastructure and improve the flow of power, NRG Energy in Dunkirk recently sent a proposal to the state's energy highway task force looking to repower its existing plant.
The two phase proposal calls for a new $700 million combined cycle unit that will eventually run on natural gas and phase out the use of coal at the plant.
"Once the combined cycle unit comes on line, you would actually turn off the coal, so you wouldn't generate on coal anymore, and you would only generate on natural gas, so the building out of the gas infrastructure is really just the interim plan that would transition the plant to the new full combined cycle project that would really operate for the future of Dunkirk," said Jon Baylor, NRG Director of Development for NYS.
The move comes as the state's public service commission is conducting a reliability study that could determine whether or not NRG mothballs the existing plant.
While city officials remain concerned over the short term financial implications of that, they are optimistic about the benefits of NRG's latest proposal.
"It shows a long term commitment on their part, which can only benefit the city of Dunkirk and Chautauqua County. The secondary impact on the city and Chautauqua County is tremendous, through homeownership, purchasing at the local stores," said Anthony Dolce, (D) Dunkirk Mayor.
Company officials also say the move will benefit area rate payers, by promoting the reliability of the grid, the use of renewable energy, and clean air emissions.
"You're talking about repowering a coal plant with a cleaner natural gas facility that is higher efficiency; you get emissions reductions of up to 99-percent," said Baylor.
In addition to using its own money, NRG will look to the state to help secure additional funding.
If all goes as planned, the company hopes the new plant will be on line by 2017.