It was an impressive announcement last week in downtown Buffalo by state Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Two "clean energy" companies announced plans to locate in the Queen City with $225 million in state incentive aid for the potential for 850 jobs.
If it is good for Buffalo, it is likely good for all of Western New York.
But what is not looking good for Chautauqua County - and Western New York - is the lack of action by Cuomo in regard to the NRG Energy Inc. proposal to repower the Dunkirk facility as a natural-gas producer of electricity. The cost of the NRG proposal is estimated at $500 million - no state aid, just an investment by the company on its existing site. That money, generated in this economy, would likely add another $1 billion in spending power over three years to this region.
Northern Chautauqua County has never seen an economic boom like that.
Last summer, Cuomo made a trip to Jamestown Community College in Jamestown to promote his Start-Up New York initiative. His plan, which partners with the state university system, may have some promise. But it has nearly no immediate impact on the tax base of a region.
NRG's plan has a tremendous impact on the tax base here. It also will lower the region's electricity prices. To hear National Grid's side, its officials continue to warn that if the NRG project moves ahead, our electric rates will go up.
Strangely enough, however, NRG is not running at full capacity and the electric rates in this region have increased since August. That's National Grid's deal, not NRG.
Cuomo also made one remark regarding the NRG proposal when questioned by the media before that event at JCC. "Let the (Public Service Commission) have their hearings and have their forum," he told reporters. "Let's hear from the public."
On July 15, more than 2,000 people attended that hearing and made their opinions clear: repower the NRG plant.
Governor, Chautauqua County is still waiting to hear from you.