GreenWatch -Huntley Conversations
by Jay Burney - posted 9:47 am, March 6, 2014
GreenWatch Huntley Generating Plant Conversations
Tonight (3/6) -6p.m. Northwest Community Center, 155 Lawn Avenue,
March 13 -6p.m. Tonawanda City Hall, 200 Niagara Street, Tonawanda
This past January, a report released by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) that says that the NRG owned Huntley power plant, located on the Niagara River in the Town of Tonawanda, does not appear to be financially viable. The report, requested by the Clean Air Coalition of WNY urged the community to begin to think through the economic consequences of closing the plant including the potential loss of 70 jobs, $16 million in annual tax revenue including 5.9% of the Ken-Ton School district budget.
Artvoice partner Dan Telvock of the Investigative Post reported it here: http://www.investigativepost.org/2014/01/28/nrg-huntley-plant-belching-red-ink/
The Huntley plant is one of three coal fired power plants in WNY that are in the top 10 greenhouse gas polluters in NYS.
Options being discussed include keeping the plant open using coal, transitioning the plant to natural gas (as has been planned in Dunkirk), transitioning to other sources of power such as solar or wind, or repurposing the building and the site entirely such as creating a recreational facility and naturalized shoreline.
The Clean Air Coalition is using these assemblies to help inform citizens that a major change is coming and that people need to become engaged in making decisions about the areas future. It is clear that operating as usual, or any changes ranging from power source production transitions to retirement of the plant presents a costly future.
One of the rarely discussed costs of the current coal fired plant has to do with the real economic costs of environmental degradation and subsequent human health costs of pollution. Much of those costs are considered as “external” to the measured economic benefit. In other words, the real economic costs of pollution are born by a wider society and not directly by the profit taker or factored into the political/economic measurements of success and growth. Richard Stockton, a University at Buffalo Biomedical and Environmental scientist wrote us the following:
“Almost daily the public media warn us of the unaffordable costs of protecting our environment from the ravages of habitat destruction, climate change, toxic pollution, etc. Rarely, however, is there a considered discussion of the “true” costs of degrading the biosphere. Economists call these costs “externalities” as if they should not be considered as part of the calculus of a particular issue. The current discussion of the closure of the coal-burning Huntley power plant is a case in point. The discussion and local media has been focusing upon loss of jobs and tax revenues. But those easily calculated costs pale in comparison to the real costs of respiratory disease caused by emitted particulates, neurological impairment due to mercury and other heavy metal intoxications, ground water contamination from fly ash, multiple social and environmental impacts from mountain top removal of the source coal. According to that calculus, the Huntley and other coal burning facilities impose an unaffordable cost upon us all and should be closed down immediately. Davis Suzuki reminds us that it is the BIOSPHERE that is the bottom line.”