CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Assemblyman Andy Goodell says he's reasonably optimistic the NRG plant in Dunkirk will be repowered into a state-of-the-art clean burning natural gas facility as planned.

"The agreement reached between NRG and the state of New York and its agencies is a multi-year agreement," said Goodell, R-Jamestown. "It's a five-year agreement, so NRG is still within the time frame needed to move forward with this project."

Goodell says the project to repower the plant remains on hold, and is the subject of a federal lawsuit challenging how the state Public Service Commission structured part of the deal. He says he's hopeful it can be settled within the five-year time frame.

"If that lawsuit is resolved, it's my understanding NRG is ready to move forward," said Goodell.

Company leaders say NRG has invested more than $200 million in the project, and are hopeful the merits of the repowering plan will be acknowledged.

"We've worked very hard for many years on the repowering project," said David Gaier, NRG East Region Communications Senior Director and spokesman.

NRG recently announced it was reducing its payment in lieu of taxes to the county, city and school district by 85 percent; that, after it paid the full $8.1 million for this year and last, though it was not required to under the PILOT agreement.

"We were doing it to be good corporate citizens. NRG really appreciates the support of our employees and the community. We're humbled by that support," said Gaier. 

"This project is extraordinarily important for the city of Dunkirk, so this community has really rallied," said Goodell.

In the event it doesn't happen, Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas is working with Goodell to secure emergency funds.

"We are still optimistic and hope that the repowering does happen," said Rosas, D-Dunkirk.

Goodell says there's $19 million available in this year's state budget for communities like Dunkirk effected by the closure of a power plant.

"I'm going to be working very hard to ensure that we take the slightest hit possible at the worst case scenario. I still believe there's a chance that they will repower," said Rosas.

Here is the full corporate statement from NRG:

"NRG is certainly aware of the current budget issues confronting the Dunkirk community, especially around the Dunkirk gas addition project. We’ve worked hard for many years to keep the plant in operation, and to support the community, most recently last December and in January of this year, making the full $8.1 million annual tax payment even though it wasn’t required under the PILOT agreement. We made the same, full payment last year. As recently as 2010 NRG invested more than $200 million in emissions controls, when market conditions for coal power plants were much more favorable. NRG has been humbled by the support of our employees and the entire community, and we hope that the NYISO and the PSC acknowledge the merits of the Dunkirk project as they evaluate our proposals in the Public Policy transmission planning process."

David Gaier
Senior Director, Communications, and Spokesman
NRG East Region and NRG Energy Centers