Chautauqua County IDA Approves PILOT Agreement with NRG

JAMESTOWN, N.Y. -- The Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency approved an amendment to it's 2006 payment in lieu of taxes agreement with NRG on Tuesday.

"We're very excited about it. It's a step forward," said Richard Dixon, Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency CFO.

The agreement comes as NRG advances plans to convert the plant from coal to natural gas, after a lawsuit blocking the project was withdrawn. 

"It's a game changer. Particularly for the city of Dunkirk. It's a very large portion of their assessment. It's a very large portion of the tax they collect from the power plant," said Dixon

As part of the deal, NRG has agreed to pay $420,000 a year to be split between the county, city of Dunkirk and the Dunkirk Public School District until the first unit returns to service on natural gas.

Once that happens, NRG will resume its original payments of several million dollars, leaving the county, city and school district to pay back the interim funding in 2026.

"NRG wanted to provide some tax relief and some certainty to the taxing jurisdictions at this time," said David Gaier, NRG East Region Spokesman.

Currently NRG doesn't have to pay anything at the end of this year or early next year because all units have been mothballed for more than six months.

NRG did make the full payment in 2014 and 2015 of more than eight million each year, though it was only required to pay a little more than a million, as only one of four units was operating. 

"We certainly understand the difficulties that the community's faced. NRG paid 13.9 million more than we were required to, purely out of good will to the community," said Gaier.

"They were keeping me informed. I did meet with them even though I was not at the table during negotiations," said Willie Rosas, (D) Dunkirk Mayor.

Rosas says he's happy to get the interim funding, while some council members were upset with the IDA, the city was not physically part of the negotiations.

"The most important issue here is the repowering of the plant. Without the repowering the city will have to face a deficit of millions of dollars down the road here," said Rosas.

"We kept the chief elected officials in the loop. We didn't involve council members, or assessors, or the general public in these discussions. It's just not how it works," said Dixon.

NRG has yet to set an official timeline for the project.

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