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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Looks Like WNY Coal-Fired Plant Will Never Convert to Gas/Reopen

In 2013, a coal-fired electric generating plant near Buffalo, NY (in Dunkirk) was slated to be converted to burn natural gas–a win/win for everyone (see Dunkirk, NY Electric Plant Saved – Converting from Coal to NatGas). Radical environmentalists like the Sierra Club opposed it, but that’s to be expected. Everything seemed to be fine until a competitor hauled NRG, the plant’s owner, into court to dispute the change from coal to natgas. They objected to ratepayers kicking in $150 million for the project. NRG said fighting the case in court will take years, so they just closed down the plant instead (see Dunkirk, NY Coal-Fired Electric Plant Closing in January 2016). It was an economic nuclear bomb for that community. The Town of Dunkirk gets 40% of its tax revenue from that single 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. Other communities can rightly demand state help too. But then the competitor who had objected to converting the old coal plant to natgas (with ratepayer assistance) dropped their objection, and NRG restarted the project in December 2016 (see Coal-to-Gas Plant Conversion in Western NY Back from the Dead). Once again, environmental lunatics would rather bankrupt Dunkirk than let the plant restart as a gas-fired plant. They lobbied the state Public Service Commission to block the deal. That didn’t happen, but what has happened is that because of the delays caused by NY and NRG’s competitor, NRG has to “restart” the project and along with that comes connection costs–the cost to reconnect 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, meaning there’s no way in Hades NRG will build it. So although antis couldn’t get NY to regulate the project out of existence, electric grid bureaucratic claptrap will keep it out of existence. Same result…
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Coal-to-Gas Plant Conversion in Western NY Back from the Dead

NRG Dunkirk Coal Plant

A coal-fired electric generating plant near Buffalo (in Dunkirk) was slated to be converted to burn natural gas–a win/win for everyone (see Dunkirk, NY Electric Plant Saved – Converting from Coal to NatGas). Radical environmentalists like the Sierra Club opposed it, but that’s to be expected. Crazy people do crazy things. Everything seemed to be fine until a competitor hauled NRG, the plant’s owner, into court to dispute the change from coal to natgas. They objected to the ratepayers kicking in $150 million for the project. NRG said fighting the case in court will take years, so they just closed down the plant instead (see Dunkirk, NY Coal-Fired Electric Plant Closing in January 2016). It was an economic nuclear bomb for that community. The Town of Dunkirk gets 40% of its tax revenue from the plant. NY “generously” shucked out $5.5 million so Dunkirk wouldn’t collapse economically. But doing that year after year will get old quick. Other communities can rightly demand state help too. But what’s this? The competitor who objected to converting the old coal plant to natgas (with ratepayer assistance) has dropped their objection, and NRG says the project is back on. Great news! It’s great for the people of western NY, great for Dunkirk’s taxpayers, and great for the Marcellus/Utica industry that will provide the gas…
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Dunkirk, NY Coal-Fired Electric Plant Closing in January 2016

As MDN previously reported, a coal-fired electric generating plant near Buffalo (in Dunkirk) was slated to be converted to burn natural gas–a win/win for everyone (see Dunkirk, NY Electric Plant Saved – Converting from Coal to NatGas). Oh sure, radical environmentalists like the Sierra Club opposed it, but that’s to be expected. Crazy people do crazy things. Everything seemed to be fine until a competitor hauled NRG, the plant’s owner, into court to dispute the change from coal to natgas. Sounds equally crazy that a competitor can stop the change, but NRG says fighting the case will take years, so they’re just going to close the plant down (see Lawsuit Prevents NY Power Plant from Converting to NatGas, Closing). Sadly, last week the New York State Independent System Operator (NYISO) gave its blessing to NRG to close down the Dunkirk plant. This is an economic nuclear bomb for that community. The Town of Dunkirk gets 40% of its tax revenue from the plant. What will they do now?…
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NRG Won’t Convert Coal Electric Plant to Utica Gas After All

disappointmentThis is disappointing. For over a year utility and electric generating giant NRG had planned to convert a coal-fired electric generating plan in Avon Lake (Lorain County), OH to burn Utica Shale gas instead. NRG’s plan includes building a $40 million, 20-mile pipeline to feed the Avon plant. That pipeline was finally approved in June (see OH Agency Greenlights NRG Utica Pipeline to Feed Electric Plant). The disappointment is that NRG has just announced they will not convert the plant from coal to natgas after all–at least not any time soon. Instead, they will add new pollution control equipment and continue burning coal. Why the change in plan? Part of the reason has to do with bats…
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Lawsuit Prevents NY Power Plant from Converting to NatGas, Closing

closedAlthough anti-fossil fuel nutters in New York State have worked to oppose converting electric generating plants from burning coal to clean-burning natural gas (see Anti-Drillers Oppose Converting 2 NY Electric Plants to NatGas), it’s not anti-fossil fuel arguments that will shut down those plants. It’s good, old fashioned, American…lawsuits. Lawsuits brought by a competitor. You may recall Gov. Andrew Cuomo slogged through three feet of snow in December 2013 to announce in Dunkirk (near Buffalo) that he would provide state assistance to the NRG plant to convert from coal to natural gas (see Dunkirk, NY Electric Plant Saved – Converting from Coal to NatGas). That was good news for Dunkirk. The Dunkirk electric plant provides something like 40% of all the tax revenue that flows into the coffers at the town. Can you imagine what would happen to local roads, public safety services (police and firefighters), and to the local school district, if the plant closed down? Imagine no more. A lawsuit brought by a competitor against NRG’s plan to convert has NRG saying the plant will close after all. NRG expects the lawsuit will take years to litigate–so by next March they’re shuttering the plant. There goes 40% of Dunkirk’s tax revenue–right down the toilet…
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OH Agency Greenlights NRG Utica Pipeline to Feed Electric Plant

Utility energy giant NRG, with loads of coal and natural gas electric generating plants scattered across the country, has just received the OK from the Ohio Power Siting Board to build a 20-mile pipeline from rural Lorain County, OH (where it will connect with a Dominion East Ohio pipeline) and connect to an NRG-owned natural gas powered electric generating plant in Avon Lake. The pipeline will flow Utica Shale gas to power the plant. Some landowners along the proposed route fought the plan, but the Ohio Power Siting Board rejected their claims there are better routes, saying NRG looked at all the possible routes. With the Board’s approval, NRG is taking the landowners to court with eminent domain cases…
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The Future of Natgas – Personal Electric Generators?!

Last December MDN editor Jim Willis attended and reported on the Platts Global Energy Outlook Forum in New York City (see Energy Industry Leaders Gather at Platts Forum in NYC). One of the most interesting speakers at that event was David Crane, CEO of electricity-generating giant NRG Energy. At that event Crane touted a pretty radical idea: About 1/3 of all U.S. homes have natural gas pipelines running to them. Crane believes technology exists to allow those homeowners to produce their own electricity with small units powered by natural gas, thereby cutting out the local electric utility. A recent article in Forbes magazine details why Crane’s idea isn’t just idle speculation…
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