NOCO CEO: Blizzard Should Be Wake-Up Call

One could only imagine if the historic blizzard that hit the region and in particular the city of Buffalo occurred without the availability of natural gas and other fuels that are to be eliminated in New York State’s draconian climate action plan.

NOCO like many other energy companies across the region, continue to invest in new sustainable energy technologies and energy conservation methods to help reduce carbon emissions, which should be the overarching goal of the plan. This investment will continue, but the reality is that certain current technologies cannot be relied on in cold weather extremes.

For instance, the state’s climate plan relies on battery storage technology and its critical role to maintain a reliable electric grid but acknowledges throughout the plan that this is still an emerging technology with no guarantees of success.

We all are heart-broken with the loss of life from this crippling storm, but we cannot in good conscious put others in danger in the future. The incredible fury of mother nature left thousands without power and emergency service personnel were thwarted from responding to 911 calls from people desperately seeking medical assistance.

We need bold leadership on how Western New York protects itself and ensures safety and reliability of those energy services needed for our community. We need to let energy technology evolve that can be deemed reliable in the event of catastrophic winter weather.

Given the climate change narrative, we can anticipate another similar type of storm sooner rather than later. So here is what we could expect if the policies outlined in the climate plan are implemented:

Natural gas emergency backup generation would be replaced by battery backup systems; the result: one day of back-up power that will leave homes without power on day two.

Electrification of heavy snow removal equipment; a large piece of equipment would only run less than 2 hours before needing to be recharged resulting in major delays of clearing streets and reaching citizens in emergencies.

Electric Heat Pumps replacing natural gas/propane furnaces; the result: electric heat pump unit located outside the home will fail because of the blowing snow entering the equipment.

Poor reliability of electric vehicles in subzero temperatures; the result: inability of essential employees, especially our healthcare workforce getting to and from their workplace.

Unfortunately, the business community is just waking up to these drastic and unrealistic climate recommendations from public policy makers who only care about meeting unrealistic emission thresholds through poorly thought-out policies.

This recent weather event needs to be a wake call to the realities of the pace of these proposed changes. Let’s make sure solutions are attainable before we bring new unknowns to our critical New York businesses.

James Dentinger is president of NOCO Enterprises.


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