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Rensselaer power plant not profitable because of coronavirus and state policies

Nov 25, 2020 5:45 am
Larry Rulison is reporting for the Times Union the owners of a 635-megawatt gas-fired power plant built 10 years ago in Rensselaer say the plant is no longer profitable because of the coronavirus and the state's renewable-energy and carbon-emission policies. The plant's deficit could become a problem for the city, local school districts and other area towns that receive more than $2 million a year in payments from the plant. Plant owner Empire Generating Co. went through a bankruptcy restructuring last year. One of the biggest problems, Empire's CEO, Daniel Hudson said, is the dramatic drop in "capacity payments" typically paid by the New York Independent System Operator to power plants to be on call to provide power to the state's electrical grid when needed during peak load periods. Hudson says the state's subsidy policies have made it almost impossible for the Rensselaer plant to be competitive. The NYISO payouts for the Rensselaer plant declined from $31 million in 2014 to $10 million in 2020, a drop of 66 percent. Empire Generating employs 21 people and says it uses dozens of local contractors for maintenance and other work. There are currently no plans to shut down, although the company reached out to Rensselaer County officials to let them know the company would be willing to renegotiate its PILOT agreement to reduce its payments. Hudson said the $2 million payment due in January is "untenable" with the current economics of the plant. The Rensselaer County Industrial Development Agency said it is willing to listen to the company's problems. Read the full story in the Times Union.