OBSERVER Staff Report
A reliability study done by National Grid has concluded that only two of the four units are needed to be in operation at the NRG Energy, Inc. plant in Dunkirk.
According to Lee Davis, NRG Northeast region president, the company received the news regarding the study late Thursday. The two units that will be in operation are the smaller 75 megawatt generators.
"We have informed our employees of what it means here," Davis said of the meeting with the workers on Friday morning.
What that means for the plant currently is that in September, the two larger units, which generate 185 megawatts, will not be needed. After May 2013, the company will only need to have one 75 megawatt unit online.
"We're disappointed in this," Davis said. "We were hoping they would need four or three."
The reduction in units will mean the plant will generate less than 30 percent of its current output. It also means a reduction in employees from 145 to 82 in September.
"Our company regards these folks as our family," Davis said, noting that many will be transferred to other locations. "We will make this as painless for them as we possibly can."
Reductions in the power generation also will impact the payment in lieu of taxes - PILOT - agreement with Chautauqua County, the city of Dunkirk and school district.
"We understand this is a big impact to the community," Davis said. "We will be working closely with the IDA and taxing jurisdictions."
State Sen. Catharine Young also expressed "disappointment" with the reliability study. She said she continues to push for the New York Power Authority to purchase power from the station.
"We're hoping that through negotiations we can get a more positive result and have more units operating," she said.
Despite the news on the study, NRG is moving ahead on its $700 million proposal to convert the generating facility to natural gas. "We're 100 percent full speed ahead with that project," Davis said. "It's going to require a contract with the state ... but it's an excellent project."
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