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AES closes Dresden plant, now for sale

TORREY—The AES-owned Greenidge power plant on Seneca Lake is closed. The closing came down to economics.
Manager Doug Roll spoke about the future of the facility on Friday, March 18. Roll said the unit was closed this last weekend. It will be put in protective lay-up for two years. Operating permits will be maintained for two years. Roll said the permits are being retained in case there is a major shift in the market.
The company has plans to close another coal-burning plant at Westover in Broome County.
Roll said AES Eastern Energy, a subsidiary of AES, is looking at things that can be done such as restructuring or selling. In published reports, AES President Paul Hanrahan said AES is seeking the sale of the plants that are being closed.
Roll said, “The wholesale price is lower than what it costs us to generate electricity.” The price of coal has been going up and the price of natural gas has dropped. Roll said, “We’re not a competitive producer.”
Greenidge has been in operation since the 1950s. AES purchased the Dresden facility from New York State Electric and Gas in May of 1999. More than $40 million has been invested in the plant. Another $9 million was invested about two years ago to convert some operations into biomass burning. The biomass process involves burning wood chips to produce electricity.
Roll said a protective lay-up will be put in place for up to two years. Operating permits will be maintained during the same time. Roll said the permits are being retained in case there is a major shift in the market.
There are 30 employees at the Greenidge plant. Roll said staffing impacts are being discussed with union representatives. He said he hoped those discussions would be completed soon.
The plant has a strong impact on the local economy. A Payment In Lieu of Taxes program (PILOT) is in place. Last year AES paid $467,000 in town and county taxes and $521,500 in school taxes.
Roll said, “The plant is one of the cleanest in the northeast. It met all requirements,” adding, “The market is what the market is.”

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