DUNKIRK, N.Y. -- When it comes to the future of NRG, the City of Dunkirk has been through the highs and lows. And now, faced with adversity once more, residents are rallying to stand up for the power plant which they say is woven into the fabric of their everyday lives.
"This community is not going to stop until this power plant is a go,” exclaimed Assemblyman Andrew Goodell.
Saturday's gathering was a response to a delay in repowering the plant into a natural gas electric facility. Given the green light by Governor Cuomo in late 2013 and approved by the state's Public Service Commission last June, the project would add natural gas to three of the plant's four coal units. The PSC was subsequently named in a lawsuit by competitor Entergy this year, saying the commission did not have the authority to approve the project.
"We need a stable plant for a stable future for our residents, taxpayers, and the business community,” said Mayor Andrew Dolce.
At this point, Mayor Dolce said the lawsuit is still tied up in the courts but said the rally was a way to keep the issue of repowering NRG at the forefront of everyone's minds.
"There's two studies going on and what I think will be found is that we need that plant repowered so that we have reliability on the electricity grid and it solves a congestion problem,” said Senator Catharine Young.
Previously, an NRG spokesperson said the project's delay will mean a reduction in workers by early next year. The power plant is also the county's largest taxpayer. Closure would drive up the cost of living for residents and businesses. It's something Dunkirk and Chautauqua County cannot afford.
"We've got a workforce that is second to nobody. They are the leaders of this community, they are the reason our clock ticks, and they're going to remain working,” said Jacqueline Chiarot Phelps, Congressman Tom Reed’s regional director.
"We have stood tall. We will continue to stand tall... to see the repowering of NRG come to its rightful conclusion," said Dolce.