Somerset Generation Plant

From Global Energy Monitor

Somerset Generation Plant, also known as the Niagara Coal Plant, was a 655.1-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station operated by Somerset Operating Co in Barker, New York.


The undated satellite photo below shows the location of the now retired power station in Barker, NY.

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Plant Data

  • Owner: Somerset Operating Co
  • Parent Company: Riesling Power owned by Beowulf Energy LLC
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 655.1 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 1: 655.1 MW (1984)
  • Location: 7725 Lake Rd., Barker, NY 14012
  • GPS Coordinates: 43.356824, -78.604214
  • Technology: Subcritical
  • Coal type: Bituminous
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: Loveridge 22 Mine (Consol), Blacksville 2 Mine (Consol)[1]
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Retirements: Unit 1, the plant's only unit, retired in March 2020.[2]

Plant Retirement

On November 15, 2019, the Somerset Operating Company announced plans to close the plant in 90 days. Plant owner Riesling Power LLC cited stricter state emissions rules as well as "deteriorating market conditions." The closure will mark the end of coal-fired energy generation in the state.[3]

The plant burned off the remainder of its coal on March 13, 2020, and closed on March 31, 2020.[4] The plant's closure marks the end of coal-fired energy generation in the state of New York.[3]

As of July 2022, the coal plant infrastructure is being demolished to make way for the Lake Mariner facility, a 500 MW cryptocurrency mining operation. The effort is being supervised by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.[5]


In 1999, AES purchased six power plants in New York (including the Somerset station) from NGE Generation, Inc. for $953 million.[6] The other stations included in the deal were AES Westover, AES Cayuga, AES Greenidge, AES Hickling, and AES Jennison[6]

In March 2011 AES announced it wanted to sell four of its New York coal plants, including Somerset. The other plants included AES Cayuga, AES Greenidge and AES Westover.[7]

AES filed for bankruptcy protection on December 30, 2011. A group of bondholders formed Upstate New York Power Producers to purchase AES Cayuga power station and Somerset from the bankrupt AES Energy East for US$240 million in 2012.[8][9]

On May 17, 2016, Upstate sold both the Cayuga and Somerset plants to Riesling Power LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Beowulf Energy LLC.[10][8]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 5,069,620 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 2,573 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 4,307 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 15 lb.

The following table gives more info on this plant's SO2 emissions levels, as well as on whatever SO2 emissions "scrubbers" (Flue Gas Desulfurization units, or FGDs) have been installed at the plant. Each of the plant's units is listed separately, and at the bottom overall data for the plant is listed.[11][12]

Unit # Year Built Capacity MWh Produced (2005) SO2 Emissions (2005) SO2 Emissions per MWh (2005) Average Annual Coal Sulfur Content FGD Unit Type FGD In-Service Year FGD SO2 Removal Efficiency
Total 1984 655 MW 5,226,893 MWh 3,131 tons 1.20 lb./MWh 3.20% spray tower 1984 90%

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from AES Somerset Generation Plant

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[13] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[14]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from AES Somerset Generation Plant

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 11 $80,000,000
Heart attacks 19 $2,100,000
Asthma attacks 170 $9,000
Hospital admissions 9 $200,000
Chronic bronchitis 7 $2,900,000
Asthma ER visits 8 $3,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

Articles and Resources


  1. "EIA 923 2019" EIA 923 2019.
  2. "Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory", 860m March 2020
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Somerset Operating Company to close in 90 days," Lockport Journal, Nov 18, 2019
  4. Wozniak, Mark (March 31, 2020). "Somerset power plant shuts down, idling 52 workers". WBFO. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  5. "Defunct Coal Power Plant Owner Plans Shift to Data Mining," Government Technology, August 4, 2021
  6. 6.0 6.1 "AES completes acquistion of six power plants in New York with total capacity of 1424 MW", Business Wire via High Beam Research, May 14, 1999.
  7. "AES to sell four New York coal plants" Reuters, March, 4, 2011.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "FERC Approves Sale of Doomed New York Coal Plants," RTO Insider, January 18, 2016
  9. "Upstate New York Power Producers Response to New York Energy Highway Request for Information," New York Energy Highway, accessed Oct 2017
  10. "Sold! Cayuga and Somerset Power Plants Under New Ownership," Lansing Star, May 27, 2016
  11. Coal Power Plant Database, National Energy Technology Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy, 2007.
  12. EIA-767, Energy Information Administration, 2005.
  13. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  14. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010

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