Niagara Gazette

Local News

August 26, 2012

AES out at Somerset plant, facility now run by Upstate Power

Niagara Gazette — SOMERSET — The Somerset Power Co. was going full blast for environmental testing last week while company officials outined coal-burning plant issues to a tour of local officials

The former AES coal-burning power plant is the biggest taxpayer in the county.

Jerry Goodenough and Jack White, who manage the Somerset plant, as well as the Cayuga coal plant down state, 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.  Assemblywoman Jane Corwin and former legislator Gerald Farnham and Paul Bologna, who are on Corwin’s staff, also sat at the table.

The group discussed roadblocks the coal plant has had to navigate.

One of them is  the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Members of the group at Somerset said RGGI is endorsed by environmentalists and penalizes coal and gas-fueled power producers in favor of solar and wind energy. Since RGGI was adopted, AES has been on a down slide, according to the plant managers.

The group instead endorses the state’s Energy Super Highway efforts — which Gov. Andrew 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 through 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 agreement (PILOT) three times with the AES. With AES payments down, school, county and town taxes go up.

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