With the public comment period ending today for the Public Service Commission’s RFP on NRG’s coal-powered Dunkirk power plant, the company is pointing to a new report detailing how the closure of several of the plant’s generating units exacerbated the strain of a severe heat wave in July.
NRG wants to repower the western New York coal-burning facility with cleaner natural gas, but the PSC is also weighing a competing proposal from National Grid to upgrade local transmission lines. The report from the New York Independent System Operator noted that during the July 15-19 heat wave, the mothballing of 445 megawatts at Dunkirk “significantly changed power flows” and “resulted in significant constraints and congestion.” Not only would the NRG plan be the cheaper option, NRG argues, but the heat wave also demonstrated the need for a solution like repowering that would help the regional grid and not just transmission upgrades meeting local needs.
“This heat wave has shown that without this particular plant, there’s a real problem in this part of the state,” said Dave Gaier, an NRG spokesman. “If we don’t get a contract to repower or refuel, we will mothball the last unit and essentially close the plant.”