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A note from the Executive Director

As Executive Director for Otsego County Conservation Association (OCCA), I was deeply concerned to learn that Otsego Now, the Otsego County Economic Development Agency, stated that OCCA is in favor of the Consolidated Funding Application proposal to install a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) decompression station in the town of Oneonta, which would have the effect of expanding natural gas infrastructure in Otsego County.  While it is true that we have spoken with Mr. Zakrevsky about the project, make no mistake, OCCA does not support the proposal, and when asked to write a letter of support for the project we respectfully declined.

Earlier this year, the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce asked OCCA to participate in their newly-formed Energy Committee, chartered by the Chamber to examine the energy needs of Otsego County.  This project was discussed at the meetings, and OCCA has been the sole environmental advocacy member promoting alternatives to expanding natural gas and particularly for the proposed project. We have advocated for low-impact development for the proposed railyard project in the form of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings and net-zero projects to help attract more eco-friendly businesses to the county and strongly suggested coordination with the town prior to submitting a proposal for funding a decompression facility.

OCCA did agree to help Otsego Now find alternatives to the natural gas project, offered to attend New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) meetings to advocate for alternative solutions (yet to be scheduled), and put Otsego Now in contact with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to take advantage of expertise in alternative energy research and funding mechanisms to help defray the costs of building and retrofitting buildings to help lower natural gas consumption and eventually transition to non-fossil fuel energy options. Further, we gave a presentation to the Energy Committee about our new project, funded by NYSERDA, to promote energy efficiency in existing buildings through envelope improvements and alternative technologies such as ground-sourced heat pumps and renewable pellet stoves and boilers. We, in no way, helped Otsego Now prepare their proposal, we do not support the proposal, and we find it disconcerting that Otsego Now included us in their proposal without our knowledge or permission.

For fifty years, it has been OCCA’s process to thoughtfully review each project before voicing our support or opposition. We have many concerns about the Otsego Now project and will continue to review all information as it comes to us. Members of the Board of Directors and our staff have been attending public meetings on the proposal and will continue to do so throughout the process. Rest assured, OCCA will not waver in our approach to this project. Our Board of Directors and staff are keenly aware of the contentious nature of this project and will be discussing the project and the current energy crisis in Oneonta and Otsego County at our next full board meeting in September.  If anyone has any concerns or questions about OCCA’s role on the Energy Committee or the question of support for the Otsego Now proposal, we encourage you to call or email us at (607) 547-4488 or director@occainfo.org.

Yours in conservation,

Leslie Orzetti, Ph.D.,
Executive Director
Otsego County Conservation Association