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Source: The Buffalo News

Coal-fired power proposal attacked

BY DAVID ROBINSON

Posted: March 23, 2012
Originally Published: March 22, 2012

A coalition of environmental, energy and health groups Wednesday came out against a provision in the State Senate’s budget bill that would call on the New York Power Authority to buy the electricity generated by Western New York’s struggling coal-fired power plants.

“Paying a premium for dirty coal power is not a recipe to help the economy,” said Abigail Dillen, the coal program director for Earthjustice.

“We are calling on Governor Cuomo and the Legislature to invest in clean, renewable energy for the future, rather than providing a lifeline to the dirty energy of the past,” said Brian Smith, program and communications director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment in Buffalo.

The budget provision, backed by Sens. Cathy Young, R-Olean, and George Maziarz, R-Newfane, would authorize the Power Authority to purchase the electricity generated by Western New York’s coal-fired plants for three years.

Young has described the provision as a lifeline that would require the plants to maintain 90 percent of current employment at a time when their electricity is priced too high to compete with power generated with natural gas, which is currently at a 10-year low.

NRG Energy, the owner of the 530-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Dunkirk, last week filed a notice with the State Public Service Commission to mothball the plant by Sept. 10 unless it is determined that doing so will affect the reliability of the state’s power grid.

Another local coal-fired plant, the Somerset facility owned by AES Corp. in the Town of Barker, has been operating under bankruptcy court protection since late December. That bankruptcy filing includes a prearranged $300 million deal to sell the 675-megawatt Somerset facility and 306- megawatt sister plant in Lansing, Tompkins County, to a group of its bondholders in an auction the bankruptcy court is scheduled to hold Monday.