OTSEGO CHAMBER POSITION PAPER
Editor’s Note: The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce released this Energy & Infrastructure Policy Thursday, June 13.
Otsego County has a diverse economy. Manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and tourism have been part of the economy for hundreds of years. Having a large part of the economy linked to these sectors, the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce affirms that Otsego County requires a variety of energy sources to allow it to be both economically competitive and environmentally responsible.
To achieve these goals, the public and private sectors
must collaborate to ensure that needed energy and transmission infrastructure upgrades are implemented.
The sources of energy we rely upon need to be accessible, affordable, practical and sustainable. Without balancing these requirements, energy security in Otsego County will be at risk and businesses in Otsego County will struggle to remain competitive.
Otsego County businesses need to maintain their competitive edge in this new energy landscape. During this evolution we must recognize that sectors of the economy, particularly agriculture, will be more carbon-dependent because of the lack of low-carbon alternatives or the inability to quickly implement cost-effective innovation. Without this realization, many areas of our economy (including agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare and tourism sectors) will be negatively impacted.
It is important to note that Otsego County and neighboring counties in our region continue to experience population losses. Since 2010, we have lost 2,528 residents or 4.1 percent of our population, according to Census Bureau. Neighboring counties have experienced population losses of 3.6 to 7.1 percent.
Part of the reason for these declines is the tax and regulatory environment in Upstate New York. High energy costs are another reason for slower economic growth, as many businesses have limited access to affordable energy options that will meet their energy demands.
To become a responsible and environmentally conscious energy producer, Otsego County must address three key components:
1. Environmentally Responsible Energy Production/Consumption,
2. Energy Security and Availability
3. Cost Competitiveness
Focus Areas of the Three Key Components:
►ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE ENERGY PRODUCTION/CONSUMPTION
1. Increase investment in competitive low-carbon energy infrastructure and
2. Move towards a long-term low-carbon economy by:
a) Utilizing low-carbon energy resources;
b) Use technology to reduce the carbon footprint; and,
c) Have substantive, thorough and timely environmental review processes.
►ENERGY SECURITY & AVAILABILITY
1. Invest in electric transmission
infrastructure to allow low-carbon energy to flow between regions.
2. Support updated and new pipeline infrastructure to allow the movement of natural gas resources for local and export opportunities.
3. Support safe energy storage to complement renewable resources.
1. Utilize existing energy infrastructure for its full life cycle term to avoid stranded assets and to control energy costs.
2. Support industrial energy efficiency and energy solutions that complement a reduction in emissions strategy.
3. Achieve predictable and reliable energy supply/rates for business sectors that are reflective of the sector’s impact on the economy.
The mission of the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce is to be the proactive voice for the business community. 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 by placing them in contact 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, such as NYSERDA, to implement renewable energies and technologies to foster energy efficiency and conservation.
It is also clear that we currently have an insufficient supply of natural gas for existing business and because of this issue we have turned away new businesses that wanted to locate here. Lack of natural gas capacity also creates competitive issues for businesses working in national and international markets. Most light manufacturing businesses located in our area need and want natural gas while also being open to renewable alternatives.
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.
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.