Let’s Have A Better Conversation

During the Public Service Commission public hearing forum, a few comments brought us back to the old debate of fossil fuel vs. renewable energy. On the one team sits those who say wind and solar is the only safe way to the future. Those on the other team say it gets dark and cloudy around this place so we need conventional power plants for reliability. Sandwiched in the middle of all of this are the jobs, the workers, the students and the taxpayers. It’s like we are standing at a Y in the road and are forced to chose only one energy path going forward. But, then you open the paper the morning after the PSC forum and right next to the picture of those holding up “Repower NRG” signs is a headline announcing “Cummins Receives Solar Energy Funding.” So what can we take away from all of this?

I believe that our best way to move our county forward is through an energy portfolio that blends highly efficient gas-powered plants with renewable energy sources over time. Time is required to allow technology developments, competitive markets, economic conditions and the citizens of our county to achieve the most benefit for the least cost. One thing is clear: we need reliable and cost-effective energy. At the same time we need Chautauqua County to be attractive to new businesses, cost-effective for existing businesses and a place where good jobs support thriving families where our kids get a great education.

So let’s have a new conversation that is inclusive, realistic, and seeks the best overall result for the residents of Chautauqua County. Let’s celebrate the efforts of the Chautauqua County IDA, NY Sun Initiative, and Cummins Inc., to add renewable energy to our Chautauqua County energy portfolio. Let’s celebrate the highly successful methane gas-powered energy plant at the Chautauqua County Landfill turning our waste by-products into energy for our homes and businesses. Let’s continue to learn and promote solutions to our energy needs through our annual energy expo which is scheduled for this fall at Chautauqua Inn and Suites in Mayville.

The desires of our citizens who attended the PSC forum at SUNY Fredonia was overwhelming. Highly efficient clean gas power from the NRG plant must be included in the portfolio. At the same time renewable solutions are growing right here in our communities. So, a better conversation can move us from a win-lose into a win-win situation that leads Chautauqua County to where we all want it to be: A great place to live, work, play and invest.