Public Comments Sought on Crucial Energy Projects
By TODD TRANUM
President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier
The deadline for public comments on a proposed NRG Dunkirk power plant conversion is Aug. 31, and the Chamber of Commerce/Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier (MAST) is encouraging continued support for this plan.
Under the proposal, NRG would spend over $715 million to convert the existing coal-fired plant to operate on natural gas. That is a huge investment into this county, and also represents one of the only ways the plant will remain open. Without the conversion plan, NRG will almost assuredly be mothballed. The cost of building the plant is a private investment by NRG. The utility is seeking a long-term power contract in order to secure financing for the project. In other words, some other entity would agree to purchase the power generated by the plant for a certain number of years.
But there is a catch. The NRG project can only be accomplished in tandem with another project, which is also part of the statewide energy plan proposed by Governor Cuomo's Energy Highway Task Force. The additional project is a massive $2.9 billion project that would build 18 power transmission lines through existing rights of way, upgrading the entire statewide power grid structure and allowing power from plants like the one in Dunkirk to reach the New York City area where it is most needed.
These proposals are in place, but without public support they are not likely to become anything more than plans on paper. In order to maintain jobs at the Dunkirk NRG plant, and to maintain a substantial part of the tax base that NRG provides in Chautauqua County, it is imperative that our voices be heard.
Details can be found at www.PowerUpWNY.org. In addition, you can help support this project by submitting comments to the Energy Highway Task Force at www.nyenergyhighway.com/contact. Your comment must be limited to 250 words and will not be attributed to you publicly. With the deadline approaching in just a few weeks, the Chamber is urging all of its members to submit a brief comment, describing why you support the plans for the NRG Dunkirk conversion. It's fairly straight-forward: this plan can save jobs and tax revenue in our county.
We have joined with State Senator Cathy Young, Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, and other local elected officials in supporting these projects. Now we are asking you to join us as well to make a brief public comment on a critical economic development project for Chautauqua County.
Business After Hours a look at the 'new' train station
The Jamestown Community Chamber of Commerce is offering members a sneak peak at the renovated, historic train station on West Second Street on Thursday, Sept. 6. This event, from 5 to 6:30 p.m., is offered to pre-registered Chamber members for just $5 and will include complimentary hors d'oeuvres. Registration is available through the Chamber's website at www.chautauquachamber.org or by calling 484-1101.
Chamber golf tournament Sept. 7
Enjoy a fabulous day of golf, prizes, and dinner with other Chamber members during the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Tournament, Friday, Sept. 7 at the Chautauqua Golf Club. The tournament is sponsored by DFT Communications, County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency, Fredonia Place, Lawley-Tradition LLC, National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation, NRG Dunkirk Power LLC, Petri Baking Products, Inc., Ed Shults Chevrolet, Inc., GHD Consulting Engineers, Community Bank, N.A., Liazon Corporation, Lake Shore Savings Bank, the OBSERVER, and The Post-Journal. You can register through the Chamber website or by calling the Chamber at 366-6200 or 484-1101.
Health insurance for business seminar Sept. 13
The Community Chamber Development Corporation, a subsidiary of the Chamber, will hold a seminar for small businesses on Sept. 13 at Roberto's at the Fenton Grill, 2 East Second St., Jamestown. Registration begins at 8 a.m., with the presentation from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. The session will focus on health care options for businesses, including tax credits, affordable options, and the impact of the Affordable Care Act. In addition the sponsor of this event, The Buffalo Agency, will provide an overview of Long Term Care Insurance. This event is open to both Chamber members and non-members. Please register by calling the Chamber at 366-6200 or 484-1101, or visit our website at www.chautauquachamber.org.