Weekly Feature



2015-09-02 / Front Page

Huntley Station power plant looks to close

by NAOMI SPENCER Editor


NRG Energy, the company that owns the Huntley Station power plant, a coal-powered plant, recently announced plans for its closure in early 2016. 
Photo by David F. Sherman. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com NRG Energy, the company that owns the Huntley Station power plant, a coal-powered plant, recently announced plans for its closure in early 2016. Photo by David F. Sherman. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com It appears to be the end of an era for the Huntley Station power plant located on River Road in the Town of Tonawanda.

NRG Energy, the company that owns the coal-powered plant, recently announced plans for its closure in early 2016.

The news, which has been anticipated during the past year, means the Tonawanda community is now bracing for the impact.

“It is a sad day in the Town of Tonawanda,” said Assemblyman Robin Schimminger in a statement he released following the company’s announcement.

“The coal facility’s pending closure means a loss of jobs and a loss of revenue for the Ken-Ton School District, the town and Erie County.”

Closure of the plant will mean the loss of 79 jobs and loss of significant tax revenue for the Kenmore

Town of Tonawanda School District, Town of Tonawanda and Erie County. The entities are estimated to lose $6.1 million in revenue, according to Sen. Marc Panepinto.

Response to the news has been varied, with environmental groups lauding the closure of the plant, which contributed to pollution, they say, to government entities hoping that financial assistance will come through from the state.

“I am deeply distressed by the ripple effects this will have in our community,” said Panepinto in a statement he released.

At the end of the 2015 state legislative session, a law was enacted to set aside $19 million in funding from the Empire State Development Corporation for municipalities and school districts where a fossil fuel electric generating facility has been shut down.

“I now urge the ESD to move quickly to draft and implement the regulations necessary to disburse the plant closure funds so that the impact on our school district and town can be minimized,” said Schimminger.

Panepinto said, “This crucial batch of state funding is critical to work with the town and region to fully fund education and those services vital to our residents.”

Lisa Dix, the representative for the “Beyond Coal” campaign for the Sierra Club, said she is encouraged that NRG will be closing the plant.

“Retiring this dirty and outdated facility is a step in the right direction for the health of the community and the environment,” she said in a release.

The Clean Air: Organizing for Health and Justice, WNY Area Labor Federation and Ken-Ton Teachers Association released a joint statement following the news that said the groups had been preparing for the closure of the Huntley station.

The groups are calling on the governor to support their plan — titled a “Just Transition” — that will secure funding for schools, care for the coal workers and their families, and begin cleaning up the site and reconnecting people to the waterfront.

The groups have been working to develop a transition plan for more than a year, with input from residents who live near the plant, the area Labor Federation, IBEW Local 97 and the Ken-Ton Teachers Association, among other groups.

“Because we began early, Tonawanda is well situated to handle the transition,” they said in their release, adding, “We remain committed to an inclusive planning process.”

email: nspencer@beenews.com

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