Rudy Mueller, Democratic Party candidate for the New York state Assembly's 150th District, says he recognizes the crisis facing the Dunkirk community with NRG's recent "mothballing" and New York state's continued lack of energy highway infrastructure investments.
Mueller said he promises to find real solutions and deliver results for the area and Western New York.
"The reduction or closure of the NRG plant in Dunkirk will financially devastate many families, cripple our regional economy and drive local/county property taxes even higher," Mueller said. "For years NRG has provided many good paying jobs, delivered affordable energy to the area and paid approximately 50 percent of Dunkirk's tax levy and many other taxes as well. "An immediate solution would be for NRG management to rehire the workers and resume previous levels of energy production as quickly as possible. However NRG could stand could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next year or more. The more likely short-term solution would be for the state Legislature to authorize a multi-year purchasing power agreement between the state Power Authority and NRG and other regional power plants. This solution would require legislation be drafted and passed through the Assembly and Senate and won't happen until possibly next year."
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. Because only two units are needed for the power grid to remain reliable, NRG has decided to shut down two of its generating units. The company's decision reduces its power output by 30 percent and also means a reduction in PILOT payments to Chautauqua County, the city of Dunkirk and the Dunkirk City School District. The cutbacks also resulted in more than 60 job losses at the Dunkirk plant.
"Chautauqua County's current Assemblyman, who sits in the minority party, had absolutely no chance of passing this type of legislation in the Assembly," Mueller said. "Sen. (Cathy) Young introduced a Power Authority Agreement, Senate Bill 6842, but failed to deliver passage in the Senate this year. I support her efforts but highly recommend that she amend this bill and incorporate the use of some biomass fuels (switchgrass and others) at these same power plants. Adding biomass fuels into the equation of coal burning power plan legislation will help strengthen our regional agricultural industry, create more local jobs, and garner the much needed legislative support. And just as important, electing a Chautauqua County Assemblyman who serves in the majority, will also make passage of this amended legislation in the Assembly much more plausible and probable next year.
"It's up to the Chautauqua County voters in November. Do they want the status quo or do they want real answers and actual results from their state legislators," Mueller said. "I believe my election to the Assembly is Chautauqua County's best chance for legislative success in Albany."