Appalachian Basin

Sen. Schumer Expresses Strong Support for Natural Gas

Rumor has it that some natural gas operators are getting tired of waiting while Governor Cuomo dithers and are looking to other states such as Pennsylvania for opportunities. Who can blame them?

While there are still some companies interested in developing the Marcellus Shale in New York State, it’s safe to say if Governor Cuomo’s lack of leadership and failure to make a decision continues, New York is going to miss out on the jobs, state revenues, and economic growth development would bring.

Governor Cuomo seems to be one of the very few public officials at the state level who persists in turning a blind eye to the potential of shale development.

The good news is that several elected officials from New York are getting it, including Cuomo’s fellow Democrats.

Of note, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer recently expressed his support for repowering the Dunkirk NRG Plant with natural gas. From Schumer’s remarks:

“I’m here to talk about bringing a more affordable, more reliable, and more environmentally friendly source of power to a struggling power plant. This is a win, win, win. I can’t see anybody opposing what we want to do here. Win – more affordable. Win – more reliable. Win – more environmentally sound. The NRG power plant in Dunkirk is at a crossroads and for some time there have been major questions as to whether it could remain open.”

Schumer later added:

“I am here today to lend my voice to the chorus of those supporting repowering of the NRG plant to burn natural gas. It is the way to go.  We know that natural gas burns cleanly and has been the choice of so many in the environmental movement as to how to create power. We know if the plant continues, it will continue to pay its taxes; keep the tax burden on the city of Dunkirk, the county of Chautauqua low. So like I said, it’s a win-win-win.”

It’s easy to see why Senator Schumer is so supportive. One recent study shows that, by repowering the plant, thousands of jobs will be created and New Yorkers will save millions on their energy bills.  From the report:

EIDM chart 1

John Baylor, the director of development for NRG, had the following to say about the plan:

“We were very happy with the results of this study, the results demonstrated what we believed would happen all along in that there are significant ratepayer savings and economic impacts from building generation in Western New York.”

What would this mean for the rest of the state?  Take a look at the following chart from the study:

EIDM chart 2

Meanwhile, the impacts on the job market in Western New York would be stunning:

The plant would provide 26 jobs in the city of Dunkirk, plus 500 construction jobs during the three year construction period.

The study also predicts that indirect and induced jobs will be created elsewhere in the economy due to the impact of the re-powered plant.

Over the 10 year period between 2018 – 2027, it is projected that more than 3,000 jobs would be created as a result of annual operations and maintenance (O&M) spending.

The report anticipates 32,300 jobs would be created statewide through a trickle-down of ratepayer benefits.

Provided below is an additional chart from the study that highlights the number of jobs that will result from this project:

EIDM chart 3

With all these facts, it’s abundantly clear why Senator Schumer is behind the project, which would unquestionably benefit his constituents.  What is unclear, however, is why Governor Cuomo either opposes the project, or simply doesn’t want to source the clean-burning gas from his own state.

If New York doesn’t grab these opportunities, other states will – and New Yorkers are already fleeing the state while Governor Cuomo dithers.

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