Jay Egg, CEO, Geo Egg, inset photo, speaks about heating Southside Mall with geothermal energy at a packed Oneonta Town Board meeting this evening in West Oneonta, as Town Board member Randal Mowers listens. “The writing is on the wall,” Egg said about future energy use. Municipalities and counties like Westchester are already declaring moratoriums on expanding natural-gas use while the state is green-lighting renewable energy. The Town of Oneonta is considering installing a geothermal heating system in Southside and other parts of the municipality, while the City of Oneoneta this week contracted with Geo Egg for a feasibility study on retrofitting a geothermal heating system in South Main Street. (Jennifer Hill/AllOTSEGO.com)
By JENNIFER HILL
COOPERSTOWN – Failing to do so two months ago, the county Board of Representatives voted 12-2 to enact a state-sponsored “Climate Smart Community Pledge” during their meeting on Wednesday, March 6.
County Reps. Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, and Kathy Clark, R-Otego, who had questioned it last time, when it was referred to the Solid Waste & Environmental Concerns Committee (SWECC) for further study, opposed it again.
But the board’s vice chair, Gary Koutnik, D-Oneonta, who had opposed the resolution in SWECC on Feb. 15, saying it wasn’t strong enough, today voted aye.
The pledge is part of a state effort to incentivize municipalities and counties to become clean-energy communities. When local governments vote to adopt the pledge, they agree to support 10 required elements; in return, they gain access to certain grants.
Frazier, who pulled the resolution from the consent agenda for a separate vote, said, “I don’t know what we’re trying to accomplish with it, and called it “an attempt to stifle any type of economic development.”
“We should not tie the hands” of entrepreneurs looking to develop businesses in the region, he said.
In response, county Rep. Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, an OCCA circuit rider, said the Climate Smart Pledge “did not have the legal teeth to stifle economic development,” and that signing onto the pledge would free up grants to “help business protect themselves from the effects of climate change.”
Meg Kennedy, C-Mount Vision, used the Town of Hartwick as a Climate Smart community that had not turned away economic development. “Just last night, the town voted approve going forward with the … Hampton Inn,” she said.
“I encourage the county to work on energy efficiency upgrades and having energy efficient equipment,” Kennedy added, before saying she would vote in favor of the Climate Smart Pledge.
In explaining why he changed his voted, Koutnik said, “The language of the resolution was too watered down. But now I will support it because it opens us up to getting grants to address climate change.”
“Climate change is a clear and present danger,” he added.
by JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.ALLOTSEGO.com
WEST ONEONTA – In the first convening of the 38-member Otsego County Energy Taskforce Town Hall Wednesday evening, County Board Rep. Meg Kennedy, a founder of the group, announced its end goal: an ambitious plan “that will address the current and future energy needs of Otsego County” by October 2020.
Calling the plan’s timeline “ambitious,” Kennedy said the Taskforce aimed to complete a draft of the plan by June 2020, have a public commentary period the following month, for a minimum of 30 days, and go through a SEQRA review of the plan that August, all before the Otsego Board would vote on adopting the plan in October of that year.
But SWECC Committee, 4-1, Forwards
Compromise Document To Full Board
By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Saying the language “was softened,” County board Vice Chair Gary Koutnik, D-Oneonta, today voted against sending a “Climate Smart Community Pledge” resolution, as revised, to the full board for action March 6.
However, his colleagues on the Solid Waste & Environmental Concerns Committee nonetheless agreed to forward the adjusted resolution, 4-1, for the full board’s consideration.
“The language did reduce the sense of Climate Change being a crisis,” Koutnik said. “My vote was largely a symbolic one, so it would be in the public record for future generations to see.”