With the planned conversion of the Dunkirk power plant from coal to natural gas, two companies are competing for the right to build a pipeline that would supply the generating station with its new source of fuel.
Both National Fuel Gas Co. and an affiliate of the power plant’s owner, NRG Energy, have filed competing plans with the state Public Service Commission to build 16-inch pipelines that would transport natural gas to from the Tennessee Gas Pipeline that runs through Chautauqua County to the generating station.
The plan filed by the NRG affiliate, Dunkirk Gas Corp., would run for 11.3 miles and connect with the Tennessee Gas Pipeline in the Town of Pomfret.
The National Fuel Gas proposal calls for a shorter pipeline that would run for 9.3 miles and connect with the Tennessee Gas Pipeline near Skinner Road in the Town of Arkwright.
National Fuel estimated that its pipeline would cost $34.5 million to build. NRG has not disclosed the estimated cost of its proposal, asking the PSC to treat its projected project expenses as a trade secret.
The competing pipeline proposals – only one pipeline will be selected to supply gas to the power plant – are being spawned by plans to convert the Dunkirk power plant from coal to natural gas and avert a threatened shutdown of a facility that NRG said was no longer economically competitive because of rising coal prices.
Just one 75-megawatt coal-fired unit currently is operating at the Dunkirk plant. Under the $140 million conversion plan, three coal-burning units will be upgraded so they also can burn natural gas. Once the upgrade is completed, the Dunkirk plant will have the capacity to generate 435 megawatts of electricity, creating the need for a new pipeline to supply the generating station with its new source of fuel.
The PSC will hold a pair of hearings on the competing pipeline proposals on Oct. 23 at the Fredonia Opera House, 9 Church St., Fredonia. The afternoon session will begin at 2 p.m. with an informational forum, followed by a public statement hearing beginning at 3 p.m. The evening session will begin with a 6 p.m. informational forum, followed by the public statement hearing at 7 p.m.