NRG’s Future Is Important To All

There are times it can seem as if Jamestown and Dunkirk exist in different hemispheres, not a small county.

Because of the physical distance between the two cities, there will occasionally be differences of opinions about how our county’s limited resources should be spent.

We can see how discussions over Chautauqua Lake’s health can seem distant for our north county residents, for example. Many north county residents swim in Lake Erie, not Chautauqua Lake. Many north county residents don’t own property on the lake. Chautauqua Lake seems a great distance from them, so it’s understandable they would think county money could be better spent on north county issues. In the end, however, they know the lake is important because 26 percent of the county’s taxable value lies in the property along its shorelines, and at the end of the day our north county brethren support efforts to restore proper health to Chautauqua Lake.

South county residents have a chance to return the favor on Monday.

NRG is planning a $500 million project to convert the Dunkirk power plant from a coal to natural gas producer of electricity. If the project doesn’t happen, NRG could eventually be shut down – a move that would remove the county’s second-largest taxpayer from the tax rolls and devastate the tax base for the city of Dunkirk and Dunkirk City School District. The plan is being opposed by National Grid – which stands to gain if NRG closes its plant, the Business Council of New York State and a slew of environmental groups.

In the face of such opposition, it is doubly important the county as a whole stand together behind NRG’s natural gas conversion project. State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, pushed the Public Service Commission to hold public hearing in Fredonia because she felt it is important for a commission that has no local voice to see for itself what the NRG project means for county residents.

Young did her part by getting the commission to host a hearing in Fredonia. Now it’s up to us to do our part. A question-and-answer session with NRG and National Grid officials will be from 6-7 p.m. with the hearing, overseen by an administrative judge, starting at 7 p.m.

Much like the health of Chautauqua Lake, the fate of the NRG plant in Dunkirk affects everyone, regardless of which end of the county they call home. The drive to Fredonia will be well worth your time.