There is reason for optimism from both Chautauqua County and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers regarding the future of local energy.
Both entities were more than delighted to hear Gov. Andrew Cuomo discuss a $2 billion request for proposals to connect upstate power generators - such as NRG coal-fired plants in Dunkirk and Tonawanda - to increasing demand for electricity in New York City and other areas downstate during his State of the State speech last week.
"That was music to our ears. ... We are going to be on top of that, following up with the respective offices," said Phil Wilcox, the business representative for IBEW Local 97, who was in Albany for the speech.
County Executive Greg Edwards was just as hopeful. "We have the energy to sell," Edwards said after Gov. Cuomo's State of the State. "We have the businesses that need the opportunities and I'm very excited about that potential."
But Wilcox is absolutely correct. Staying "on top" of this proposal is necessary for all Western New York representatives. Competition in the power industry is much more competitive today than 20 years ago.
Our area - and region - cannot afford for this to be a missed opportunity.