New York to hear public views on possible close of NRG coal plant

July 3 Wed Jul 3, 2013 12:43pm EDT

July 3 (Reuters) - Public hearings over the possible retirement of New York's 520-megawatt (MW) Dunkirk coal-fired electricity generation plant will be held on July 15 to address concerns about power reliability, state regulators said on Wednesday.

In a release, the New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC) said it started examining electric reliability needs from the proposed mothballing of two coal-fired power plants - NRG Energy Inc's Dunkirk and privately held Cayuga Operating Co's 302-MW Cayuga - in January.

The NYPSC said one alternative is the conversion from coal to gas of the Dunkirk and Cayuga facilities. The Commission noted that costs of any conversion would be paid by the customers of the local utilities which transmit the power - a New York unit of UK power company National Grid Plc for Dunkirk and in the case of Cayuga, New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG), a unit of Spanish power company Iberdrola SA .

NRG and Cayuga Operating are expected to continue to own and operate their plants.

In the spring, NRG reached an agreement with National Grid to run the 100-MW Unit 2 at Dunkirk for another two years, from June 1, 2013 to May 31, 2015, pending regulatory approval.

The Commission directed National Grid to evaluate repowering Dunkirk as an alternative to the utility's proposed transmission reinforcements and required NYSEG to do the same for the Cayuga plant.

National Grid has completed its evaluation and submitted a report to the Commission. Both NRG and National Grid have said that their proposal - repowering Dunkirk for NRG and bolstering the transmission system for National Grid - is the better option for ratepayers.

The PSC will hear comments on the National Grid evaluation at the July 15th meeting. The Commission said it will set up another meeting when the NYSEG report is available.

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