Tonawanda News

The Town

March 2, 2014

Clean Air Coalition hosts brainstorming assembly on Huntley power plant

Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Dozens of locals attended a Clean Air Coalition assembly Saturday to discuss how to assist employees and local governments if the Huntley Station power plant does shutdown.

“We are hoping to open the dialogue, since Huntley may be near the end of its life,” Glenn Ratajczak, a member of the coalition, said. “We value what the community has to say, and in this case, Huntley has a big impact in the town ... we are trying to be proactive instead of reactive.”

The assembly is first of four similar meetings, and follows the release of a report last month that indicated that the River Road plant is at risk of closure due to declining revenues and a shift in the energy market.

The study was commissioned by the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York and completed by an Ohio consulting firm, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. Coalition Director Erin Heaney said the group’s request was in response to residents’ concerns about air quality and public health. 

“Many of you were at an event we held last year ... where more than 200 people voted on what people were concerned about. Huntley was at the top of that list,” she said Saturday at the event, held at the Boys and Girls Club of the Northtowns. “We don’t know if it’s going to retire, but they could say it is any day, and we’re just trying to prepare.”

Huntley is owned and operated by NRG Energy and is one of the few coal-burning plants left in the state. The plant has been suffering due to the rising cost of coal, low natural gas prices and a stagnant demand for electricity.

The report indicates the pretax earnings generated by the plant have dropped dramatically in recent years, from a range of $56 million to $110 million in the years 2005-08 to an average loss of $1 million for 2009-12. Pretax, the plant has operated at a loss for the last three out five years.

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