DUNKIRK, N.Y. - Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas is breathing a financial sigh of relief now that NRG plans to repower and then resume its payments in lieu of taxes. Rosas will now re-adjust his five year budget forecast that had included the prospect of cutting services and raising taxes.
"This is huge because now we can plan on continuing to provide the professional services that our residents are accustomed to receiving from us," said Rosas (D).
Last week, NRG announced it was still prepared to convert the mothballed plant from coal to natural gas, as long other project partners, like National Grid and National Fuel, uphold their previous commitment. The move comes after the Entergy Corporation voluntarily dropped its lawsuit against the state Public Service Commission.
"That lawsuit challenged the validity of the contract between NRG and National Grid under which we would repower and operate three of Dunkirk's four units on natural gas," said David Gaier, NRG East Region spokesman.
The company also thanked those living in Dunkirk and Chautauqua County for their patience and continued support.
"Definitely an optimistic turn. Ever since the Governor came and announced the repowering project, this community has stood behind this project and they are very excited to see this go forward," said Vince Horrigan, Chautauqua County executive (R).
"I think it's something we need to assess. What circumstances have changed in the intervening three years since this project was held up by the lawsuit so this is a very recent development and something we're studying closely," said Kathy Hochul, Lt. Governor (D).
State leaders had secured and distributed transitional aid to the county, city and school district to make up the financial shortfall.
"Because that one plant accounted for over 40 percent of the tax revenue for the City of Dunkirk. But the transitional aide is just that. It's temporary," said Andy Goodell, Assemblyman (R-Jamestown).
Not only is the repowering of NRG generating excitement for the City of Dunkirk, it has also sparked renewed energy throughout the local business community as well.
"Because there's nobody working there right now, like any company, comes in, you have people working there and they have disposable income and of course all of us get a piece of that," said Tom Panasci, Pizza Village owner.
NRG says once its permits and required approvals are in place, construction should take about two years.