Tonawanda News — SOMERSET — The Somerset Power Co. was going full blast for environmental testing last week while a half-dozen men outined coal-burning plant issues to state assemblywoman Jane Corwin.
Corwin, whose new 44th District will include five towns in Niagara County, was interested and receptive. The former AES coal-burning power plant, which will be in her territory on Jan. 1, 2013, is the biggest taxpayer in Niagara County.
Jerry Goodenough and Jack White, who manage the Cayuga and Somerset plants, explained the history of bankrupt AES and the challenges facing the new “Somerset Operating Co. LLC of the Upstate New York Power Producers.” Somerset Town Supervisor Dan Engert, Legislator John Syracuse, and Hartland Town Supervisor Ross Annabel talked of the town and county’s predicament. Former Legislator Gerald Farnham and Paul Bologna, who are on Corwin’s staff, sat at the table.
The group is opposed to “RGGI,” saying the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is endorsed by environmentalists, penalizes coal and gas-fueled power producers in favor of solar and wind energy. Since RGGI was adopted, AES has been down hill, according to the plant managers.
The group endorsed the state’s “Energy Super Highway” efforts, which Gov. Coumo is pushing, to get electricity from upstate sources to downstate customers — principally New York City. The energy highway would update the infrastructure with a billion-dollar effort.
However, the state is also considering a project to pipe power downstate from Ontario down the Hudson River or bringing electricity in from New Jersey. The Garden State opted out of RGGI, giving New Jersey an advantage.
Engert said that RGGI, shifted the burden onto the taxpayer. The town has had to renegotiate its Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) three times with the AES, LLC. With AES payments down, school, county and town taxes go up.