Broome County leaders are hoping to make some advancements in dealing with energy issues. Now, a new department within the County Executive's office could do just that. County Executive Debbie Preston announced the details of the Office of Energy Development Thursday. Melissa Kakareka joined us from the Binghamton newsroom to tell us more about what the new office would do.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Broome County Executive Debbie Preston says the county is behind when it comes to energy development. That's why she announced the creation of the "Office of Energy Development" Thursday.
"Reliable, affordable, sustainable and clean energy is paramount to all Broome County residents. Energy in all forms, conventional, alternative and renewable, presents major economic opportunities," said Preston.
Preston says the office will be funded through the IDA and the county's Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax Reserve Account and won't create any additional costs for taxpayers. It will focus on reducing and conserving energy, as well developing new energy sources in the county. The office will also develop a multi-year sustainability plan for Broome County and hold events and seminars for residents and businesses.
"This office is going to be about changing the way people think about energy, changing the way things are done. It's going to be about renewable energy sources, reducing energy consumption, sustainability," said new Office of Energy Development Director Margaret Scarinzi.
Preston presented two resolutions for the office to the legislature earlier this week. Some legislators have questioned whether it is the right time for the county, financially, to add another department. They have also expressed concerns about how much the office will focus on hydrofracking.
"It sounds to me like a natural gas development office. We did get some information on that and it seems like that will be a large part of it so I'm wondering whether or not this isn't premature," said Legislature Minority Leader Dan Reynolds.
Preston says if natural gas drilling is approved in New York State, it would certainly fall under the duties of this office. But she says the creation of this office is about promoting all forms of energy.
"This office is not being opened for just natural gas drilling. As I stated, we will be ready if it is approved by New York State but there is so much more to energy than natural gas drilling," said Preston.
The Broome County Legislature will vote on the resolutions next Thursday, January 17th.