New Ommegang President Campbell Raises Alarm
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
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.