COOPERSTOWN – Otsego County businesspeople support all energy options – renewables, yes, but also the controversial decompressor station proposed for West Oneonta – states a county Chamber of Commerce “Energy & Infrastructure Policy” released in the past few days.
The statement came bottom-up from the Oneonta-based organization’s countywide membership, said Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan, who also chairs the Economic Development Committee of the county board’s Energy Task Force. “They (chamber members) collectively shared that they want their voices heard,” Heegan added.
With businesspeople worried their perspectives would not be reflected in the Energy Task Force’s conclusions, Heegan said work began on the statement soon after county Rep. Meg Kennedy, C-Mount Vision, announced the Energy Task Force membership at the chamber’s Energy Summit in January at The Otesaga.
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.
COOPERSTOWN – Work on increasing the DeRuyter-Oneonta gas pipeline’s capacity by 25 percent will begin next year, NYSEG has told the Otsego County Energy Task Force.
That could mean the “interruptible power” – Oneonta’s colleges and Fox Hospital are required to switch to more expensive fuel oil when temperatures drop below zero – will kick in less often, county Rep. Michelle Farwell, D-Morris, the task force co-chair, told the county board at its July meeting Wednesday.
To the Editor:
Dan Buttermann’s letter in your editions of Feb. 21-22 headlined, “On Energy Future, State Must Pick Right Side,” has the right title but supports the wrong side – renewables only, no new gas.
Unfortunately, the state (Governor Cuomo) shares Mr. Butterman’s view. Now the consequences are beginning to show.
Con Ed announced no new gas hook-ups in Westchester County. A six-acre urban renewal project in Yonkers – kaput. All new commercial/residential development in Westchester – on hold. Incidentally, Westchester utility rates are going up; gas 11 percent and electricity 6 percent.
Let’s not pick the wrong side for Otsego County. Our energy future needs ALL forms of energy, including affordable, abundant, reliable natural gas.
Gas cuts overhead, creates jobs. It counterbalances New York’s high taxes and restrictive business climate. If permitted, pipelines could be here in about a year.
COOPERSTOWN – Anne Catherine Ryan, of Ithaca, who was active in the community while working at the New York State Historical Association, passed away unexpectedly on Sept. 20, 2016, at the age of 74.
Anne, the daughter of the late Paul Ryan and Mary McCawley Ryan, was born in Pittston, Pa., March 31, 1942. She attended West Side Central Catholic High School, graduating in 1960. Moving to Manhattan, she attended the Tobé-Coburn School for Fashion Careers and worked for Macy’s, Inc. as a fashion coordinator.
ONEONTA – Looking for a “Clean Energy Communities” designation, a ChargePoint Level 2 electric vehicle (EV) charging station has been added to the Dietz Street parking lot.
“Over the last two years, there was a joint effort among City departments and the Council to takes steps to earn the Clean Energy Communities designation,” said Council member Melissa Nicosia, Second Ward. “I am proud to have been a part of being able to complete this initiative. Clean Energy can only benefit our community in the future.”
The EV charging station is a pier-mounted console which will allow EV drivers to recharge their batteries over time.
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.”
It seems that a Zoning Commission made up of only three people have proposed a new zoning ordinance that would impact economic development in the Town of Richfield for decades to come.
What is unclear is whether or not this plan benefits the whole town or is just a cat’s paw for a small group of residents who oppose a specific clean energy renewable wind project on the west end of town.
Residents should realize that wind power, which has been successfully deployed elsewhere in New York State, the country and the world, will be a vital energy resource in the future. But most important to an agricultural region like Richfield, is the compatibility of wind turbines and farming. Farmers can lease land to host a wind turbine, and still continue to operate their farm.
Many farmers, including those in the dairy industry, are barely holding on. Allowing compatible wind turbines or solar panels can provide the type of long-lasting revenue that has allowed farming to thrive elsewhere.
Before approving a new zoning ordinance that stymies this type of clean energy development, Richfield residents should consider not just whether they want to see turbines or solar panels, but how they feel about abandoned farms or their neighbors struggling to make a decent living.
That is the real choice in many areas. Not to mention polls indicating that a majority of residents in the town of Richfield support renewable energy development.
It might be a good time to hit the pause button, abandon this flawed proposed zoning plan, and have a more representative group come up with zoning that is best for all residents of Richfield.
BURLINGTON FLATS – Anne L. Weiss, 81, a 40-year employee of Otsego Mutual Fire Insurance Co. in Burlington Flats, passed away unexpectedly at her home on Friday Dec. 14, 2018.
Anne was born on Feb. 4, 1937 in Burlington Flats, the daughter of the late Lowell F. and Helen E Nichols Mayne.
Anne was a lifetime resident of the area, graduating from Edmeston Central School before graduating from the Utica School of Commerce. She spent the next 40 years working for the Otsego Mutual, until her retirement in 1997.
The debate around here has appeared to be all about energy.
Listening to 19 content-rich, tightly packed presentations –
15 minutes, 15 minutes, 15 minutes – at the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce’s “Energy Summit: Infrastructure & Economy,” Thursday,
Jan. 31, at The Otesaga, you’d have come to a different conclusion.
The discussion’s all about jobs.
Energy is the means. Which can best produce jobs, gas or renewables? Ideally, both.
There were woeful predictions.
“Time is not on our side,” intoned Tony Ingraffea, the Cornell professor. (Better was his cool presentation on his ultra-efficient house near Ithaca. Add in the Norway firs his grad students have been planting for years, his family’s carbon footprint is “less than zero.”)
We know The Earth is under challenge. The question locally is, what is our role in fixing it? The numbers convincingly argue, not much. Otsego County is micro; the solution is macro.
With 0.018 percent of the U.S. population (less than 2/100ths of one percent), and 0.00008 percent of the world’s (less than 1/100,000th of one percent), the fate of The Earth isn’t going to be decided between Richfield Springs and East Worcester.
This frees us to think about Otsego County, what we need today, and what the opportunities are in the near-to-
ONEONTA – Fossil fuels – gasoline, fuel oil, propane and natural gas – that power Otsego County today were like an unexpected inheritance, allowing the Industrial Revolution and the world as we know it.
But 200 years later, Hartwick College Economics Professor Karl Seeley told 70-80 attendees at the Concerned Citizens of Oneonta forum this evening at Elm Park United Methodist Church, you discover the hidden costs of the bequest are bankrupting.
“It makes you rich enough to destroy your home,” Seeley said. “But not rich enough to build a new one.”
The dynamics of the evening, moderated by Hartwick Professor Kate O’Donnell, followed an outline another panelist, Dan Buttermann, brought back from Al Gore’s “Climate Reality Project” forum last year in Los Angeles: “Must we do it? Can we do it? Will we do it?”
Let’s not be prophets of doom, but we’re all thinking people who can more or less put the pieces of the puzzle together.
In her March 29-30 column, our colleague,
columnist Cathe Ellsworth, alerted us to an
Albany Business Review report that Upstate
New York lost 2 percent of its population
between 2011 and 2015. Seven counties gained population; 20 lost it.
In our general area, Tompkins County – home of Cornell and Ithaca College – surprisingly lost the second most, 5.1 percent or 5,294 people. Our Otsego County was 11th on the list, losing 2.26 percent or 1,408 people.
The next week on our front page came the story, “Utility Retreats From Gas Pipeline Upgrade,” reporting how the utility serving our county, NYSEG, has backed away from upgrading the DeRuyter natural-gas line that runs to Sidney and then Oneonta, even though it received a rate increase to do so a couple of years ago.
In the article, Otsego Now CEO Jody Zakrevsky reaffirmed NYSEG can’t provide enough natural gas – or electricity, either – that any new manufacturer of any size would require to move here.
A Chinese company looking to establish a manufacturing plant somewhere in the U.S. came calling a few months ago, Zakrevsky continued. “We had proximity to an Interstate, water, sewer – but we could not meet their energy demands, either electrical or gas,” he said. “…Without that power, we’re limiting our ability to compete.”
The news hook for the story was a meeting state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, hosted at his Albany office in mid-March for local business and community leaders to make a plea to NYSEG’s new president, Carl Taylor.
COOPERSTOWN – In an announcement awaited with anticipation, county Rep. Meg Kennedy this morning revealed the 21 people who will comprise the Otsego County Energy Task Force.
Charged by the county board, the task force will determine county government’s approach to the sometimes conflicting goals of economic development and environmental projection.
Kennedy, who is leading a five-person Leadership Team in this matter, announced the list before 155 people at an appropriate forum: the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce “Energy Summit,” underway through late afternoon in The Otesaga’s ballroom.
“It’s going to be a project,” said Kennedy of the task force’s mission. “But I think we are all dedicated to a better future for county.”
The task force is made up of four “workgroups,” as follows:
Dennis Higgins of Otego took a few pot-shots at my opinion piece which appeared in Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal.
In my piece, I wondered if an Oneonta Municipal Microgrid System might help expand local energy generation and availability in helping alleviate the limitations on our current energy capacity.
I threw it out there as a question to try and stimulate some discussion for the good of more energy to support expanded commerce and the economic growth of Central New York.
Indeed, the submitted opinion piece I presented to the paper was entitled, “Is a tri-gen municipal microgrid an answer to boosting local energy?” It was framed as a question which the paper chose not to use.
Back to Mr. Higgins, when citing the sources of renewable energy to fuel my “make believe” microgrid, he conveniently omitted biomass, which I thought could possibly be the primary energy source in heat and power generation, augmented by onsite and rooftop solar, and hilltop wind generation backed-up with natural gas; sort of an all-of-the-above approach!
Several people contacted me to ask why I didn’t include geothermal. I responded that it would be important component and should be required technology for individual developers in their planning and construction phases!
In Mr. Higgins’ reply, my sense is it was crafted in a rather defensive mode, perhaps to hide some personal energy bias. All I could conclude, was:
“Well, maybe I am actually onto something here!”
The “tri-gen municipal microgrid” concept should continue to be discussed, with key public and private leaders thinking about bringing in some experts in this field to evaluate the merit of the concept, as well to seek their expert guidance and advice!
Take the blinders off! Other than Mr. Higgins, who could be against that?
Colone is co-convener of GO-EDC, the Greater Oneonta Economic
EAST MEREDITH – L. Anne Cole, 71, an Oneonta native and Fox Hospital department head, passed away Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, at her home in East Meredith, surrounded by family.
She was born on July 19, 1947, in Oneonta, the daughter of Charles and Lois (Keathley) Bubnell.
Anne was employed for more than 30 years at Fox Hospital, starting in the payroll department and worked her way up to director of materials management.
Anne loved to spend time with her family, go to the movies and share a meal out. She was a very active member of the River Street Baptist Church.
She is survived by her daughter, Elizabeth and Achim Sliwa of East Meredith; her son, Richard C. Cole of Franklin; two grandchildren, Laura and Samantha Banks; an honorary grandchild, Sierra Hanford; two great-grandsons, Draven and Trenton Fay; two additional great-grandchildren on the way, expected in the beginning of next year; two sisters, Bonnie Monroe of Oneonta and Bettie Johnson of Williamsport, Pa.; three nephews; and one niece. Anne also openly welcomed two more grandchildren and four more great-grandchildren into her fold through Elizabeth’s marriage to Achim.
She is also survived by her stepmother, Earlene Bubnell; and her stepsister, Vicki Bubnell.
She was predeceased by her former husband, Richard C. Cole, on Sept. 5, 2018.
A graveside service will be at 11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 15, in Glenwood Cemetery, Oneonta, with the Rev. Judith Thistle officiating. Following the service there will be a gathering at the family home at 10089 Elk Creek Road in East Meredith.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Anne’s memory may be made to the A.O. Fox Hospital Foundation, Fox Family Fund. For more information, contact the foundation office at 607-431-5472.
Condolences to the family may be made online at www.grummonsfuneralhome.com. Arrangements are by the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home of On