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Power company upset after Cuomo calls for probe


NRG may be down, but it's not out.

That was the message Wednesday when the New Jersey-based power company reacted to the news that Gov. Andrew Cuomo had called for a Public Service Commission investigation into NRG's decision not to repower its Dunkirk facility.

"NRG has seen a copy of the Governor's letter (to the Public Service Commission) and is very surprised by the Governor's attack, which directly contradicts the facts," said NRG spokesperson David Gaier. "NRG's Dunkirk facility kept the lights on in Western New York for the past two years, based on a 2012 contract approved by the Governor's own Public Service Commission. Over that time our Dunkirk employees delivered near flawless performance - at the price agreed to in advance by the state."

Gaier went on to say that NRG has shown nothing but support for Dunkirk and its residents.

"NRG has invested in the Dunkirk facility and the local community, and we made more than $16 million in property tax payments over the past two years. We stand by everything we've done to support the power grid and ratepayers in Western New York. We'll respond more fully in the days ahead with the facts."

The OBSERVER reached out to state officials requesting a copy of Cuomo's letter sent to the PSC, but they did not respond.

According to the Associated Press and Buffalo News, in his letter Cuomo states that he has "grave concerns" about the New Jersey company's actions - he wants to know why it has mothballed the Dunkirk plant, rather than convert it to clean-burning natural gas, for which so many leaders and residents have rallied.

The repowering project has been in limbo for over a year, at least partially due to a lawsuit filed by competitor Entergy Corp., a Louisiana-based company that owns a nuclear power plant in Oswego, claiming that New York State interfered with the energy market to keep the Dunkirk plant up and running.

The lawsuit also claims that Cuomo's plan for repowering the plant was supported by state subsidies and millions of dollars from National Grid customers.

Cuomo's request to the PSC also involves asking if New York State consumers have been "defrauded" by NRG, and whether or not the company should be "allowed to operate as an electric corporation in the state."

Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas said it's no secret that Cuomo and other politicians are disappointed that NRG has not yet gone through with the plan to repower the Dunkirk plant, but that he is still hopeful repowering will happen.

"The most important thing to me is to keep working with Governor Cuomo, Senator (Catharine) Young, Congressman (Tom) Reed, Assemblyman (Andy) Goodell and County Executive (Vince) Horrigan to get the local NRG plant back up and running. We're all committed to the same thing; and if (NRG) doesn't repower, we're going to work together to secure state aid for the city and the school district to hopefully make up for some of what we will lose (in PILOT payments)."

Goodell and Horrigan were both reached for comment but said they were unable to speak on the matter. Young's spokesperson Robert Driscoll said the state senator would not be able to comment on the situation either.