Ruined Beer Dramatizes It: More Energy Needed Here

Ruined Beer Dramatizes It:

More Energy Needed Here

New Ommegang President Campbell Raises Alarm
Brewery Ommegang’s new president Doug Campbell, center, stands for a moment of silence in memory of Hugh Henderson along with other attendees at this morning’s Otsego Now annual meeting. Flanking Campbell are, from left, Otsego Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan, B&K Coffee’s Tasi Karabinis, Country Club Motors’ Tom Armao, Otsego Ready Mix’s Bob Harlem and Oneonta Deputy Mayor Russ Southard.   State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, noted that Henderson, who died last month, had served 42 years on the board of the county IDA, today’s Otsego Now.  (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

ONEONTA – The threatened loss of 700 jobs at Amphenol is one thing, but the ruination of hundreds of gallons of beer at Brewery Ommegang last week dramatizes it even more:  Otsego County needs more energy.

At Otsego Now’s annual meeting this morning at Northern Eagle Beverage’s new Town of Oneonta headquarters, Ommegang President Doug Campbell reported a NYSEG power outage ruined a batch of beer for the second time since the new president was appointed last August.

“I hate to have that beer wasted,” Campbell said.

State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, and Otsego Now CEO Sandy Mathes have been sounding the drumbeat for a year:  The county’s institutions and manufacturers lack a dependable power supply – natural gas, certainly – for their operations.  (They voice support for renewables, but say the technology’s just not there yet for large-scale applications.)

As recently as Monday, Seward announced the formation of the nine-county New Yorkers for Affordable Energy to pressure the Cuomo Administration and Public Service Commission to, in turn, pressure NYSEG to upgrade its supply.  In March, he and Mathes announce a coalition of nine Central New York county governments with a similar goal.

In 2016, Mathes convened a meeting of major energy users – the hospitals and colleges among them – perturbed by NYSEG’s “interruptible power” policy:  During cold snaps, they were being forced to shift to more expense and dirtier-burning fuel oil.

In addition to Amphenol, the Lutz Feed’s situation has been oft repeated:  The Oneonta feed mill bought a corn drier, but NYSEG said it couldn’t provide the natural gas to run it.

Before he arrived at the Cooperstown brewery, Campbell recalled, the phone rang at his New Canaan home in Connecticut.  It was Phi Leinhart, Ommegang’s internationally recognized brewer.

“Power’s out.  We had to shut down for the day,” Leinhart reported.

“How often does that happen?” asked the new brewery president.

“Kind of a lot,” the brewer said.

Ommegang’s parent company, Duvel Moortgat, is very generous – but how long will they tolerate ruined beer being poured down the drain?  Campbell asked.

Seward reported on his and Mathes’ recent initiatives.   And he also pointed out that there are three vacancies on the five-person PSC board, adding ominously, “They will come before the Senate for confirmation.”

Campbell’s announcement was a dramatic highpoint of several newsworthy comments at Otsego Now’s packed annual meeting, which included charter COO Elizabeth Horvath’s announcement she is resigning after three years.

5 thoughts on “Ruined Beer Dramatizes It: More Energy Needed Here

  1. Bob Eklund

    I think this is a crock, the interruption of electrical service by a weather event being portrayed as a lack of natural gas is ludicrous. Most especially when these extreme weather events are only going to increase due to the use of fossil fuels. Brewery Ommegang had the opportunity to go Solar several years ago and opted not to. That’s the decision I would question.

  2. Patrick J. Leary

    Brewery Ommegang’s position has been quite clear for a long time now – natural gas is bad, and especially fracked natural gas. I guess talking the talk is easy – but walking the walk is too difficult?

  3. Dave G

    Rte. 205 residents are now dealing with the harsh result of the nat gas pipeline being terminated in PA. XNG is running disguised tankers in pairs up and down our highway round the clock every 15 min. or so, 7 days a week from the end of the pipe to a storage/dist facility near Little Falls. Fuel finds a way to get to customers, it seems, no matter what. Faso and Seward haven’t responded to my inquiries yet, but the trucks are relentless. If you don’t have a pipe you deal with the trucks. What to do?

  4. Doug Kendall

    As Bob states, Ommegang’s problem was due to an electrical outage and had nothing to do with natural gas. Businesses like that normally have backup plans for weather-related outages.

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