04.03.18

SCHUMER: IF NRG CUTS OFF WATER SUPPLY FROM FORMER HUNTLEY COAL PLANT IT, COULD PUT THOUSANDS OF JOBS AT RISK – AT PEROXYCHEM, DUNLOP SUMITOMO, 3M AND DUPONT; SENATOR WILL DEMAND NRG IMMEDIATELY REVERSE COURSE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE

Schumer Says That NRG Just Benefited From Massive Corporate Tax Cut And Announced A $1 Billion Stock Buyback Plan And Should Be Good Neighbor And Use A Smidgen Of  Its Massive New Windfall To Pay Very Modest Amount To Extend Grey Water Contract Past Its Current End Date To Protect Local Jobs 

Huntley Currently Provides Desperately Needed Water Resources To Major Employers Throughout The Region, Accounting For Approximately 4,000 Jobs In Western New York 

Schumer To NRG:  The Bottom Line Is Not The ONLY Thing – Do The Right Thing To Protect WNY Jobs?

Surrounded by workers from across Western New York, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today called on NRG Energy, Inc. to immediately extend its commitment to providing grey, non-potable water to the businesses in Tonawanda, NY via the recently shuttered Huntley facility. Schumer said if NRG fails to extend its contract beyond 2019 it could put thousands of jobs at PeroxyChem, Dunlop Sumitomo, and 3M, which depend on Huntley’s water resources, at real risk. Dupont uses its own, outdated water system, and requires a grey water solution as well. Specifically, Schumer said that after recently announcing a $1 billion buyback plan, and after shuttering the Huntley plant, which led to major financial hardship for the Town of Tonawanda, NRG should do the right thing and make it a priority to take the necessary steps to help protect and support approximately 4,000 jobs in Western New York. 

“It would be extremely disturbing if NRG Energy, Inc. refuses to extend their contract to provide water resources to PeroxyChem, Dunlop Sumitomo, and 3M. These companies depend on the water supply coming from Huntley and if NRG turns the water spigot off it could put thousands of local jobs at risk,” said Senator Schumer. “While extending the contract beyond 2019 is not a long-term solution it is simply unacceptable for NRG to just rip the rug out from under these businesses, which are crucial to the regional economy. The Town of Tonawanda is working day and night to address these challenges, while NRG authorized a $1 billion stock buyback plan, with $500 million to begin immediately. Therefore, I am asking the NRG to stop counting their profits and start counting the number of jobs would be lost if they fail to renew water services. I will do everything in my power to hold NRG accountable and make sure those in a position of power at NRG are well aware of the consequences of failing to renew this vital water contract.”

 Schumer noted that for decades, The Town of Tonawanda and the Ken-Ton school district relied on tax revenue from the Huntley coal plant. At it's high, NRG paid the Town $13 million in tax revenue and employed hundreds of people. Over the years, however, both jobs and revenue have steadily declined. When Huntley shuttered in 2016, the remaining 75 workers were laid off, and Tonawanda took a $6.1 million hit to its tax base. The loss of revenue forced Town officials to make difficult financial decisions, including closing two schools and laying off 133 teachers. Schumer argued that during this challenging time for the Town of Tonawanda, NRG’s Board of Directors recently authorized a $1 billion stock buyback plan, with $500 million to begin immediately. 

Schumer was by joined by Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Joe Emminger, members of the Town of Tonawanda Board, Members of the Steelworkers union, and Karl Kriger, PeroxyChem Plant Manager.

Schumer also noted that in 2016, he successfully pushed for and secured $160,000 in federal funding from the Economic Development Administration to assist the Town of Tonawanda in planning for the eventual closing of Huntley. This grant allowed the town, in conjunction with the University at Buffalo, the Ken-Ton teachers union, the Clean Air Coalition, and other stakeholders to embark on a ten-month long process. The result of these efforts, an economic action plan called Tonawanda Tomorrow, is focused on creating good-paying jobs, preparing workers for those jobs, and reinvesting in the Tonawanda community. Schumer explained that this is not the time for NRG to change course and pull the plug on water for the remaining industries in Tonawanda, and committed to holding the company responsible.                                                

Schumer’s letter to NRG appears below:

Mr. Mauricio Gutierrez

CEO, Interim President

NRG Energy, Inc. 

I write today to urge NRG to extend its commitment to providing grey, non-potable water to the businesses in Tonawanda, NY via the recently shuttered Huntley facility. Currently, the facility provides water resources to PeroxyChem, Dunlop Sumitomo, and 3M which account for approximately 4,000 jobs in Western New York. Dupont is currently using its own, outdated water intake, and requires a grey water solution as well. While it is clear that the current set up is not sustainable in perpetuity, it is vital that NRG not rip the rug out from under these businesses, which are crucial to the regional economy. By committing to extend the contract past its current 2019 end date, NRG would provide some much needed stability for these business while the Town of Tonawanda works to take over grey water management.  

For decades, The Town of Tonawanda and the Ken-Ton school district relied on the tax revenue – as much as $13 million in 2003 – from the Huntley coal plant. Over the years, however, both jobs and revenue to the town have steadily declined. When Huntley shuttered in 2016, 75 good-paying union jobs left the WNY area, and Tonawanda took a $6.1 million hit to its tax base. The loss of revenue forced Town officials to make difficult financial decisions, including closing two schools and laying off 133 teachers. As the Town of Tonawanda faces these challenges, I am aware that NRG’s Board of Directors has recently authorized a $1 billion stock buyback plan, with $500 million to begin immediately. I also understand that once assets such as the Huntley plant are sold, NRG expects to execute the remaining $500 million. I think we can agree that continuing to provide grey water is the ethical and decent thing to do for this town that is so desperately in need of the jobs and revenue provided by the businesses that remain in the area.

The Town has been diligent in planning for the eventual closure of Huntley, and management of grey water. Town officials are embarking on a $27 million project that, when complete, will provide the needed water resources to the businesses in Tonawanda. These businesses are relying on the success of this plan and have agreed to partner with the town to fund the project. The Town is working to secure additional funding, and I have committed my support as well. Once all the funding is in place, the project will take 24 to 36 months to complete. NRG’s contract will end sometime in 2019. From that point forward, the businesses will be without water resources, and I fear some may decide to pack up and leave the region.

Again, I urge you to extend this contract and keep these good paying jobs and tax dollars here in Western New York. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.

Charles E. Schumer

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