Dunkirk, NY Desperate to Restart Shuttered Electric Plant

This is a truly sad story. Because of delays from lawsuits and regulators, power generator NRG said last week it has officially given up on restarting a shuttered coal-fired electric plant near Buffalo, in the Town of Dunkirk. There had been plans to convert the plant to burn natural gas, but due to delays, it didn’t happen. NRG closed the coal-fired plant in 2016, which was an economic nuclear bomb for Dunkirk–they get 40% of their tax revenue from that one plant. New York State “generously” shucked out $5.5 million so Dunkirk wouldn’t collapse economically. But doing that year after year will get old quick. Dunkirk needs that plant. Because of delays due to a lawsuit by a competitor (now dropped), NRG needs to restart the project from scratch, which means reconnecting the plant to the electricity grid. Estimated reconnect costs go as high as $115 million! The cost of “transmission upgrades,” according to the NY grid operator. The cost to reconnect would be almost as much as the project cost itself (see Looks Like WNY Coal-Fired Plant Will Never Convert to Gas/Reopen). As we predicted last month, NRG is walking away from the project. They said so, officially, last week. And that has Dunkirk leaders and residents in a panic, desperate to find someone else to take over the project and get it going. Don’t hold your breath. If NRG can’t make the numbers work, what makes Dunkirk think another company can?…

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