Energy Amity Not Easy, Chamber Policy Shows


Energy Amity Not Easy,

Chamber Policy Shows

The Otsego Chamber of Commerce’s “Energy & Infrastructure Policy,” released last Thursday, June 13.  The title sounds innocuous enough.

In effect, it is rank-and-file business owners’ Declaration of Independence.

The whole of the Otsego Chamber’s new policy appears in this newspaper, beginning at right.  Read it.  But there are a couple of key paragraphs.

The first makes common cause with every sensible person’s aspirations:

“As we head toward the inevitable move to renewable energy, the Chamber will continue to support and help implement all forms of energy including wind, solar, natural gas, hydro as well as geothermal, ground and air source heat pumps. The Chamber will also help connect businesses … with organizations that can perform energy audits and make upgrades that can help decrease energy usage as well as providing information for rebates and financing options.  The Chamber can work with elected officials and state agencies … to implement renewable energies and technologies.”

If that paragraph is aspiration, this one addresses the nuts and bolts of running a business.

“We currently have an insufficient supply of natural gas for existing business and because of this issue we have turned away new businesses … Lack of natural gas capacity also creates competitive issues for businesses working in national and international markets.  Most light manufacturing … need and want natural gas, while also being open to renewable …  The fact that some natural gas users in our area are offered only interruptible supply is a graphic indication that a better gas transmission infrastructure is needed.  Options such as the proposed decompressor station will help on a temporary basis, but more natural gas capacity is clearly needed if our community and local employers are to grow and prosper. “

This should be a wakeup call for the county Energy Task Force, which next meets in toto at 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 26, at the Clark Sports Center.  If the business community doesn’t buy in sufficiently to the task force’s eventual proposed solutions, they will be DOA.

Right now, the task force’s Economic Development subcommittee contains people who deal with business, but not a single businessperson, per se.  In effect, they represent bureaucracies: the New York Power Authority, NYSERDA, the Southern Tier 8 Regional Planning Commission.  Even Heegan herself and Otsego Now CEO Jody Zakrevsky, advocates of business as they are, are a more than a few steps out of the trenches in the battle between P&L.

Perhaps it’s time for a mid-course adjustment, to broaden the representation with, not bomb-throwers, but thoughtful diplomats from the business community, people like Custom Electronics’ Mike Pentaris, who are walking the walk.

The threat of the boogey-man – that anyone who doesn’t agree with Big Environmentalism’s agenda is evil, as Mike Zagata writes this week – it getting old, even becoming fake news.

There are hard heads, sure.  But no thinking person doesn’t accept the reality of Climate Change.  The question is: how, really, do we fix it?  To replace wishful thinking with tough thinking that will bring results.  Meanwhile, how much does the tiny, tiny piece of the problem, Otsego County, have to suffer?

Reading the tea leaves, it seems like the Otsego Chamber members seized a debate from which they have been excluded. Well done.  Energy Task Force members will ignore the Energy & Infrastructure Policy  to their detriment.

Instead, let’s all focus on the conclusion: “Economic growth and community prosperity are the prime objectives of the entrepreneurs and business leaders who work as part of the Chamber to help make Otsego County a better place to live, work and raise a family.”

We’re all in this together.


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