The Huntley Station, which is poised for a major expansion, will install equipment to curb emissions in order to meet state requirements.
The Erie County Industrial Development Agency on Monday approved issuing $115 million in bonds to help control pollution at the Town of Tonawanda power generating plant, which is owned by New Jersey-based NRG Energy. About $50 million will go toward equipment and $60 million will go toward installation, with the remaining $5 million devoted to other costs, according to the ECIDA.
The emissions-control program stems from a consent decree that NRG entered into with the state Department of Environmental Conservation in 2005.
The River Road plant, which was directed to make significant reductions in emissions or face penalties, has already implemented some other improvements.
"We're very proud to partner with the Erie County IDA and are glad to have the financing to continue to provide lower-cost reliable energy," said Lori Neuman, a spokeswoman for NRG.
Lynn Marinelli, an ECIDA board member and chairwoman of the County Legislature, said the emissions-control equipment will help update the decades-old power plant.
"This a 90-year-old facility that was state-of-the-art at the time and needs to be made state-of-the-art again," she said.
Ronald Moline, the Town of Tonawanda's supervisor and an ECIDA member, described the River Road operation as an essential component of the region's economy.
He said NRG this year will pay nearly $11 million in combined local, school and county taxes this year on the Huntley Station.
The pollution cleanup work isn't directly related to the $1.5 billion upgrade planned for the Huntley Station. But some ECIDA board members said they see the emissions program as a way to help ensure the operation's stability.
In 2006, the New York Power Authority announced the Huntley Station was its "conditional choice" for a $1.5 billion new clean-coal power plant, over four other candidates. The project is expected to create 100 new jobs plus 1,000 construction jobs.
Final approval depends on whether the project can pull together enough savings and incentives to lower the price of electricity that would be generated by the plant.
The new plant, which is in the preliminary design phase, is expected to reduce traditional air emissions by more than 90 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by 65 percent, Neuman said.
NRG is targeting the project to go into commercial operation in 2013, with plans to start construction by 2008.
Separately, the ECIDA board on Monday approved a $3.38 million bond sale resolution to support the conversion of a former warehouse at 937 Broadway into affordable family residential units. The developer originally intended to turn the property into senior housing, but has changed the plan.
The ECIDA board also approved a previously discussed $900 million bond sale resolution related to the Buffalo schools modernization program, and agreed to cap the agency's administrative fee at $500,000, which is a discount.
It also backed a $13.3 million bond sale resolution to support the acquisition and renovation of the Shoreline Apartments on Niagara Street by Norstar Development USA.