Glidepath

Assuming critics and proponents of the proposed Glidepath power storage facility in Ulster are (now) all singing from the hymn book, Today’s (Thursday’s) “informational meeting” at town hall could be largely ceremonial. Too bad. Like any news-hungry reporter, I was looking forward to a placard-waving, fist-pumping confrontation between fired-up environmentalist and those wicked developers.

Not so. Developers announced last week that they had met just about every demand of critics and citizen activists’ groups, “testimony,” said town supervisor Jim Quigley, “to the power of an informed, engaged, community.” Quigley might have added “well-organized, media savvy and determined.” There were neighborhoods in Ulster where every other home had a “stop Glidepath” sign on its front lawn.

Quigley’s quote about “community” has gained broad credence, but is it only rhetoric?

Given the Glidepath experience, which almost brought a $20 million development to a screeching halt, might the Ulster town board and planning board better define “community” as something broader than “residents” or “voters.” (Context: Some town board members had privately expressed resentment at “outsiders” (critics) protesting the Glidepath project.)

For sure, the 20-acre project “footprint” as defined by developers with its 80-foot towers belching diesel fumes had far greater potential impact than on its immediate environs. How did the town board miss that?
No wonder it took almost two years for all sides to come to the sensible solution of replacing carbon-spewing diesel generation with relatively harmless battery storage. No towering smoke stacks, either.  Credit Gov.

Andrew Cuomo, for a little-noticed shift in policy last November, that amended the state’s overall plan for power independence and a “path” forward (thus the name) to sustainable energy to provide what locals extolled last week.

There remain some loose ends, like a pilot (payment in lieu of taxes) to be negotiated on the $20 million project between the county’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and developers. The IDA is in flux these days under new leadership, so those talks might not favor developers as much as recently. times.

But for now, there’s peace between a major developer and committed opponents. Maybe we really can talk to each other and better, listen.