Can New York Combat Climate Change Without Destroying Communities? with Dennis Higgins and Keith Schue [Talk]
Thu, Jul 07, 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm


The state Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) mandates that our electric grid be carbon free by 2040. The New York Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) believes this can be achieved through the installation of industrial solar and wind farms across upstate New York, along with sprawling transmission lines and giant batteries. The kicker is, we would still need as much dispatchable backup capacity as is provided by all the fossil-fuel power plants in the state today.

Presenters Dennis Higgins and Keith Schue argue that the state’s analysis ignores not only the ecological impact of such a massive buildout, but also the cost to ratepayers and the dangers of an over-dependence on imported energy to power the grid. They will share hard lessons learned from similar efforts in California and Germany, and highlight the rising opposition to New York’s current renewable-siting process. Accelerated siting allows giant companies to override local laws in order to cover forests and farms with panels and turbines, threatening rural economies, the environment, and our quality of life.

Higgins and Schue ask: Wouldn’t it be a mistake to pursue a flawed energy plan that sacrifices nature, increases energy costs, and does little to decarbonize the grid? They will outline their ideas on a better way to address these critical issues. Afterwards they will lead a group discussion on their thought-provoking presentation.

This event is free to attend and open to the public. Seating is limited to 30; attendance is mask optional.

Dennis Higgins taught mathematics and computer science at the University of Scranton, St. Lawrence University, and, for most of his career, at State University College of NY at Oneonta. He retired from teaching recently but continues to run a farm with his wife Katie. Higgins home schooled four daughters for most of their K–12 education. He has been involved in regional energy issues for over a decade.

Keith Schue has a master’s degree in engineering and worked in the private sector for fourteen years in hardware design. Before moving to New York, he was employed with the Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy on issues relating to the impacts of human development and infrastructure on ecosystems. He has been engaged in New York energy policy since 2010, and currently volunteers as a technical advisor for New York Energy & Climate Advocates. He has provided technical input on the federal Clean Power Plan, NYS Energy Plan, NYS Clean Energy Standard, industry regulations, legislation, and various projects.