NRG seeks approval of gas pipeline for Dunkirk conversion

The Dunkirk Gas affiliate of NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) applied Aug. 13 at the New York State Public Service Commission for approval to construct a 16-inch natural gas pipeline to support the addition of natural gas capability at the coal-fired Dunkirk Generating Station.

With the help of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, NRG Energy several months ago worked out a deal to convert three of the four coal units at Dunkirk to natural gas, with the fourth unit to be shut.

The Dunkirk Natural Gas Pipeline Project will include the construction of about 11.3-miles of new 16-inch buried pipeline to transport natural gas from a new interconnection with the existing 30-inch Tennessee Gas Transmission Mainline Pipeline located in the Town of Pomfret to the Dunkirk Generating Station. The project is located entirely within Chautauqua County.

The project includes a new gas regulating station at the Dunkirk Generating Station site, a new metering station located at the Tennessee Gas Pipeline tap site, and the two required mainline isolation valves. The project would serve only the power plant, with no gas sales out of this new pipeline to any other customers.

A June 13 New York State PSC order regarding the contract between National Grid and Dunkirk Power LLC relative to the Dunkirk station determined that the addition of natural gas at the Dunkirk Generating Station will help meet reliability needs, reduce emissions, relieve Western New York congestion, reduce costs for consumers, retain local jobs, create temporary construction jobs, stabilize the local property tax base, and improve the local economy, the application noted.

Dunkirk Gas has requested a gas flow of 11 million standard cubic feet per day (MMscfd) from the owner of the Tennessee Gas Transmission pipeline for direct delivery to the Dunkirk Generating Station. To date gas volumes have not been committed by contract.

The principal officers of the applicant are:

  • William Lee Davis, NRG Energy, President East Region, 211 Carnegie Center, Princeton, New Jersey 08450,; and
  • Michael Sommer, Dunkirk Gas Corp., Vice President, 211 Carnegie Center, Princeton, New Jersey 08540,

Under the $140m agreement between National Grid and NRG, the repowered facility is assured operation for 10 years with added capability to generate 435 MW using natural gas. Under the terms of the agreement, which had been announced by Gov. Cuomo in December 2013, NRG’s Dunkirk Power will refuel three coal units to add the capability to generate 435 MW using natural gas. Currently only one 75 MW unit is operating on coal.

The refueled units are expected to begin operating in the fall of 2015. Coal could still be burned at those units as a back-up fuel in case of a gas supply emergency.

In early 2012, NRG announced plans to mothball Dunkirk, which is more than 50 years old, saying it was no longer economical to operate. That triggered the long process of arriving at the agreement brokered by Cuomo to help retain this power plant’s economic benefit to the region around it. National Grid initially said that grid fixes would be a cheaper alternative to keeping the plant in operation.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.