We at Otsego 2000 applaud the progress that has been made at local, state, and federal levels with regard to clean, renewable, and carbon-free energy production and we hope that this is only the beginning for serious, thoughtful, and timely policies to protect our environment.
At the local level, leaders in Cooperstown have contracted with solar power producers in the North Country region to offset 100 percent of the electrical demand for municipal buildings in Cooperstown, with production likely by 2023 and with a price tag favorable to the village. Not only did the village make this commitment to a renewable source of energy, but they performed due diligence by investigating the solar contractor and assuring themselves that prime agricultural land use was respected. Secondly, the Village of Cooperstown has installed EV chargers in the Doubleday parking lot, and heat pumps, LED lighting, and improved insulation in village buildings. We are aware that other municipalities and towns have been considering adoption of similar policies. We strongly encourage our county, town and municipal leaders to move expeditiously in this direction.
In 2019, New York State passed an important climate bill—the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Well intentioned, this legislation seeks to fast-track development of large (greater than 25 megawatts—approximately 150 acres) solar and wind power projects throughout the state. While we are enthusiastically in favor of the responsible development of these forms of renewable energy, we are concerned that the way in which the legislation is being rolled out does not take into consideration community needs, especially agricultural land use and other economic development. We implore our state leaders to require community education and involvement well before the siting of these projects proceeds.
At the state and national levels, we call on our leaders and legislators to recognize that solar and wind power will not meet the energy needs of the region or the country, even when they are maximized. This will be true in nearly every circumstance, but most importantly when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. As it stands now, that shortfall in many parts of the country is met by fossil fuels. That must change — and it must change in a carbon-free manner. Development of hydroelectric energy and battery storage forms of energy, as well as nuclear energy with smaller safer reactors, must be pursued. Those will take time and we have already taken more time than was prudent—so in the meantime, we must do what we can in all other areas of carbon-free energy production. Further, we must recognize that we can’t achieve these important greenhouse gas reduction goals without also significantly reducing our business and personal energy consumption habits.
Nationally, the Inflation Reduction Act has the potential to make a huge impact on reducing fossil fuel extraction and consumption. It also promises to create good jobs. Exactly how that will translate in our region remains to be seen, but we should be actively engaging with our state and federal elected officials to demand accountability and rapid development of policies and programs which move us closer to zero-carbon energy production in our region, state, and nation.
Otsego 2000 is a regional non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve and enhance the rural and historic nature of our communities. We stand:
FOR responsible development of renewable energy in our communities, with community involvement in that development.
FOR land use decisions that respect the agricultural and food production mission of the region, now and in the future.
FOR healthy air and water quality for the people in our region.
FOR healthy food options for ALL people in our region.
FOR responsible development of recreational land and the tourist industry in the region.
FOR the principle of Home Rule, wherever possible, so that the people in our region have a role in self-governance.
FOR equitable distribution of the costs and benefits of this necessary transition to clean energy.
Otsego 2000 stands ready to assist, as always, our towns and municipalities in navigating this new energy landscape—with its opportunities and challenges — with legal and expert assistance.
James Dalton is president of the
Otsego 2000 Board of Directors