Sometimes it's about appearances, sometimes it's about facts.
While the New York Energy Highway Task Force announced Tuesday the availability of a progress report called the New York Energy Highway Blueprint Update, the report contained little information on the local area's concern about energy, the future of NRG Dunkirk and its repowering effort.
The report stated the proposed plans for the two companies involved, NRG and National Grid, are still under review by the state's Public Service Commission.
The PSC lists the review as Case 12-E-0577. Two recent filings with the PSC by the companies involved show part of the reason why the process, begun in January, will take some more time.
So far, Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation, doing business as National Grid, has sought and received an extension to May 2 and has asked the PSC for additional time, until May 17, to file its report comparing the proposed repowering of the generating plant owned and operated by Dunkirk Power LLC to transmission reinforcements.
"On April 9, 2013, you granted an extension to May 2, 2013 for National Grid to submit its report and recommendations. National Grid requested that extension to allow additional time for Dunkirk to respond to information requests, and for the Company to review those responses," Carlos A. Gavilondo, a National Grid attorney wrote. "Dunkirk provided its responses to the company between April 15 and April 18. Dunkirk sought confidential treatment for its responses via a filing April 22 with the Records Access Officer, and provided copies of the redacted IR responses to National Grid on April 26.
"Based on certain IR responses from Dunkirk, National Grid requested a meeting with Dunkirk's consultant, Longwood Energy Group LLC. Because of LEG's logistical constraints, the requested meeting did not take place until April 25. Immediately following that meeting, National Grid requested specific additional information from Dunkirk and LEG to enable the company to more thoroughly evaluate the LEG study and Dunkirk's proposal."
Gavilando said the information was not received as of April 29 but was anticipated by week's end.
National Grid said the extension would "enable National Grid to receive and evaluate the additional information requested from Dunkirk and LEG. An extension also would provide an opportunity to consider how to accommodate Dunkirk's confidential information designations in a way that improves transparency in the report to be filed by National Grid."
According to the request from Grid, the extension has the support of NRG. NRG did express concerns about its business information in a filing it sent April 22 to the PSC. NRG requested it be allowed to submit its discovery responses only to the Department of Public Service Staff for review, under trade secret protection as the "materials contain confidential commercial information, are proprietary, and constitute a trade secret."
Concerns included the information contains development and negotiation strategies, along with capital costs of repowering and associated costs of operating the repowered Dunkirk facility. NRG's Bradley Kranz, vice president of wholesale regulatory strategy and policy, detailed the concerns in the filing.
Kranz included the costs of building and operating the facility, NRG's development strategy and other information regarding project development that NRG keeps confidential as information that could be used by competitors. Kranz wrote the information could help competitors "to determine the facility's repowering costs and subsequent production costs, affording NRG's competitors an advantage in the competitive markets by allowing them to advance their own projects over the Dunkirk facility, which would cause unfair economic and competitive damage to NRG."
"Disclosure would provide NRG's competitors and counterparties access to information that is not known to them, that would be valuable to them, and that would be extremely difficult if not impossible for them to develop on their own, as they do not have access to the Dunkirk site nor NRG's proprietary inputs for the proposed repowering and subsequent operation of the facility."
David Gaier, NRG spokesman, said companies in NRG's position always file to have limited distribution of proprietary information. He said the outcome of the process is up to the PSC.
"The next thing will come from Grid. It will be their recommendation on our proposal versus their transmission proposal. It will go to the PSC and the PSC will make a determination," Gaier explained.
The Dunkirk plant is currently running its two 100-watt generators until the end of May. A reliability agreement reached in March calling for one generator to be available for reliability purposes will begin in June.
Stephen Brady, National Grid's Media Relations Manager, said there was a lot to study when he was asked about any agreement the PSC is examining.
"The commission and the staff gave us a good outline on what they would like us to evaluate, both from an engineering standpoint as well as some of the other issues around, community, jobs, that sort of thing," Brady explained. "We're taking a look at all of that."
Brady said further information would be available when the PSC issues its report. When that will occur remains to be seen.
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