NRG plant closures to impact more than 100 jobs

Company shifting from plants in Tonawanda, Dunkirk

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - It's a move that could put more than 100 Western New Yorkers out of work. NRG Energy is set to pull the plug on a pair of controversial power plants.

NRG officials say the company plans to "retire" the Huntley plant in Tonawanda in March 2016. NRG also says plans for the Dunkirk plant are now "on hold" and will be be fully placed into "mothball status" on January 1st.

Company employees who work at the plants were told Tuesday morning that a total of 145 jobs could be impacted. 

NRG says the Huntley plant is being retired because the economics of the facility simply no longer work in a challenging energy marketplace. "We have historically low gas prices," said company spokesperson David Gaier. "The other two sources of generator income are capacity prices and energy prices. These are [also] extremely low and unfortunately they have made the economics of the plant unviable."

Local lawmakers were weighing in on Tuesday's announcement. New York State Senator Marc Panepinto released a statement on the Tonawanda Plant that said in part, "While I am encouraged by the environmental impact of today's announcement, I am deeply distressed by the ripple effects this will have in our community. The devastating loss of 79 jobs couple with millions in annual PILOT payments will mean a critical hit to the local tax base."

NRG claims that plans for the Dunkirk plant have changed because of a lawsuit filed by Entergy Corporation, which challenges a decision and agreement to re-power the facility. "We don't take this action lightly," added Gaier. "This lawsuit has really crated uncertainty about the future of the project and the viability of the contract. We have to do this unfortunately and we realize this has a big effect on our employees. It's not something we do either lightly or happily."

NRG believes the lawsuit could take years to sort out. The company says 66 employees could be impacted at the Dunkirk plant.




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