By Todd J. Tranum
President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier
We applaud the leadership that Governor Cuomo has taken in terms of establishing a vision to rebuild and rejuvenate New York State's electric power system and enable the state to meet the needs of a 21st century economy and society. We believe it is absolutely critical to the viability of businesses across New York State that we maintain the ability to generate electrical power and identify efficient ways to transmit that power. The repowering of the NRG plant in Dunkirk is a key component to achieving energy sufficiency, energy reliability and energy cost competitiveness.
The closing of production facilities like NRG will position New York as an energy importer at the mercy of energy production outside the state. New York will be importing power from states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. These are states that burn coal, which costs more per megawatt than natural gas power production. In addition, there will clearly be a continued effort by the EPA to shut down coal facilities. Industry estimates suggest that 34 gigawatts of power will go off-line in response to EPA rulings and most of these facilities are located in the Northeast.
Reduced production and increased demand will lead to dramatic cost increases for ratepayers. Not only is that bad for business, it is also bad for residential ratepayers.
The NRG facility in Dunkirk and a similar plant in the Tompkins County town of Lansing are both on the potential chopping block right now as the state Public Service Commission gets closer to making its decisions. Repowering these two facilities will create construction jobs, preserve long-term local jobs, improve the air quality in our communities by reducing major emissions and sustain our critically important tax bases which provide municipal and educational services.
Regionally, the business community is squarely behind these repowering plans. The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, and the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier are strongly in favor of converting these coal-fired plants to natural gas. These private investments are a pathway to energy reliability, energy independence and are investments in what can ultimately develop into a New York export industry.
We encourage all businesses and residents across our region to make their voices heard on behalf of the NRG project in Dunkirk. The state Public Service Commission continues to take written comments until August 16. You can send letters of support to: Chairman Garry A. Brown & Acting Secretary Jeffrey Cohen, NYS Public Service Commission, Agency Bldg. 3, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223. Please reference Case # 12-E-0577. In addition, you may send comments and concerns to Hon. Andrew Cuomo, Governor, New York State, Executive Chamber, NYS Capitol, Albany, NY 12224. Or, if you prefer, you can find a link directly to the PSC's online comment page for this case through the Chamber's website at www.chautauquachamber.org.
Special Offer from the Peek for Chamber Golfers
Golfers who register for the 2013 Chamber Golf Tournament August 15 at Peek'n Peak will also be able to sleep cheap at the Peek if they choose to spend the night. Peek'n Peak has reserved a block of ten rooms for registered Chamber golfers at just $99 per room. This special room rate is first come first serve for registered Chamber golfers only. To reserve a room call Peek'n Peak at 355-4141.
This year's Chamber Golf Tournament also gives golfers the choice of playing either a scramble or a two-best ball format, so that golfers can enjoy their game their way. It will be played on the prestigious Upper Course at Peek'n Peak a par 72 course with unique terrain that features panoramic views, great elevation changes, deep sand bunkers and mature woods, to create a spectacular atmosphere.
The tournament is sponsored by DFT Communications, Community Bank NA, Cummins, Inc., Fredonia Place, GHD Consulting Engineers, Greater Woodlawn FCU, Lake Shore Savings Bank, Lawley-Tradition LLC, National Fuel Gas, Ed Shults Chevrolet, Inc., the OBSERVER, and The Post-Journal. For more information or to register, visit the Chamber website at www.chautauquachamber.org, or call 484-1101 or 366-6200.
Insurance Issues Always Answered Here
The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce can assist any business with its health insurance and employee benefits needs. This is becoming critically important, as new aspects of the Affordable Care Act are implemented, and as New York State fully implements its new Health Benefit Exchange plan. The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce was among the first in the state to offer a health insurance exchange program to its members, helping hundreds of local firms to contain costs while offering a broad array of benefit plans. We are also helping local businesses to understand and take advantage of tax credits they may be eligible for, in addition to educating them about changes that are pending.
Here is an opportunity to learn more: The Community Chamber Development Corporation will hold an informational session on the Affordable Care Act, insurance options, and more on August 7 at Tom's Restaurant in Hanover. If you have concerns or questions about health insurance needs for your business or your employees, please call us at 484-1101 or 366-6200.
Dunkirk Farmers and Artisans Market
The Dunkirk Farmers and Artisans Market is offering special events throughout the season during its regular hours, 3-7 p.m. Thursdays and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays. The Market is held at the beautiful Memorial Park and is sponsored by the Dunkirk Community Chamber of Commerce. In addition, the Market now accepts Chamber Gift Checks. For more information call 366-6200.