Jun 23

Cape Light Compact Accepting Applications for Low Income Solar Grants







Cape Light Compact Accepting Applications for Low Income Solar Grants

June 23, 2017


The Cape Light Compact is accepting applications for its new Low Income Solar Revolving Grant Program.

The program will fund 100 percent of equipment and installation costs of solar photovoltaic systems on affordable housing properties to reduce electric bills for low-income homeowners and renters, along with benefiting the environment by adding renewable electricity to the grid.

After installation, the system and the electricity it produces will be owned by the homeowner. The grant recipient will assign the Renewable Energy Certificates that the system produces over its lifetime to the Compact. The RECs will then be sold and the proceeds will be reinvested back into the revolving grant fund to continue the installation of future systems.

The initial round of awards through the program is funded by a $250,000 grant from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and a $125,000 match from the Compact. The grant match is funded by former Cape Light Compact Green power supply customers, who chose to opt-in to a renewable power supply product and pay a small premium to support local renewable energy sources.

“We are also proud to be partnering with locally-based solar installation companies as part of this grant program, making this program a win-win for the homeowner, our local economy, and our environment,” said Maggie Downey, the administrator of the Cape Light Compact.

For more information on eligibility requirements and the application process, visit capelightcompact.org/solargrant. Funding is limited and usually awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Eligible applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.



Jun 20

Wellfleet to Receive Clean Energy Project Grant







Wellfleet to Receive Clean Energy Project Grant

June 20, 2017


Wellfleet is among 72 towns across the state getting money for clean energy projects.  Mashpee is the only other Cape town receiving funds.

Governor Charlie Baker awarded $14,043,257 in Green Communities competitive grants on Monday, the largest in the program’s seven year history.

Wellfleet will receive $120,423.

The Department of Energy Resources has awarded over $80 million to Green Communities grants since the program’s inception.

“Today’s grant announcement is the largest award in the Green Communities program history and represents our Administration’s commitment to supporting clean energy efforts for our partners in cities and towns across Massachusetts,” said Baker.

“The projects funded by these grants will allow cities and towns across the Commonwealth to reinvest their energy savings in vital public services like schools, public safety, and local infrastructure.”

Under the Green Communities Act, cities and towns must meet five criteria to be designated a Green Community and receive funding.

The grants provide financial support for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that further the designated communities’ clean energy goals.

The grants announced today fund a range projects from ventilation system upgrades and high efficiency lighting to installation of insulation and energy management systems at municipal buildings and facilities.

Also included are projects to install LED streetlights, oil-to-gas heating system conversions, electric vehicles, and electric vehicles charging stations.

Jun 17

Cape Light Compact launches air-conditioning savings program


Cape Light Compact launches air-conditioning savings program

By Geoff Spillane
June 16, 2017


BARNSTABLE — The Cape Light Compact has launched a smart air-conditioning program, enabling Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard residents to control home cooling from smartphones or tablets.

The compact, in partnership with the makers of People Power smart home software, introduced the program with a goal of reducing strain on the electric grid during the hottest days of the year.

To participate, users with central air-conditioning systems will need an eligible Wi-Fi thermostat, for which rebates are available for purchase. Residents with mini-split heat pumps will receive a free control device valued at $99.

During peak air-conditioning load periods from June to September, the compact may declare a “demand response event” and automatically increase temperatures by 2 to 4 degrees. Participants will be notified by email before an event and can override the automatic adjustments if necessary. Participants will receive a $25 Visa gift card if they participate in at least 75 percent of the events.

To enroll in the Smart A/C Savings Program, go online to capelightcompact.org/smart-ac.

Jun 14

Are solar and wind really killing coal, nuclear and grid reliability?





Are solar and wind really killing coal, nuclear and grid reliability?

By Michael E. Webber | Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Deputy Director of the Energy Institute, University of Texas at Austin; Joshua D. Rhodes | Postdoctoral Researcher of Energy, University of Texas at Austin; Todd Davidson | Research Associate, Energy Institute, University of Texas at Austin; and Thomas Deetjen | Graduate Research Assistant, University of Texas at Austin


May 13, 2017

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in April requested a study to assess the effect of renewable energy policies on nuclear and coal-fired power plants.

Some energy analysts responded with confusion, as the subject has been extensively studied by grid operators and the Department of Energy’s own national labs. Others were more critical, saying the intent of the review is to favor the use of nuclear and coal over renewable sources.

So, are wind and solar killing coal and nuclear? Yes, but not by themselves and not for the reasons most people think. Are wind and solar killing grid reliability? No, not where the grid’s technology and regulations have been modernized. In those places, overall grid operation has improved, not worsened.

To understand why, we need to trace the path of electrons from the wall socket back to power generators and the markets and policies that dictate that flow. As energy scholars based in Texas – the national leader in wind – we’ve seen these dynamics play out over the past decade, including when Perry was governor.

Wrong question

There has been a lot of ink spilled on why coal is in trouble. A quick recap: Natural gas is plentiful and cheap. Our coal fleet is old and depreciated. Energy use in the U.S. has flatlined, so there’s less financial incentive to build big new power plants.

Part of Perry’s review is aimed at establishing how wind and solar, which are variable sources of power, are affecting so-called baseload sources – the power plants that provide the steady flow of electricity needed to meet the minimum demand.

Posing the question whether wind and solar are killing baseload generators, including coal plants, reveals an antiquated mindset about power markets that hasn’t been relevant in many places for at least a decade. It would be similar to asking in the late 1990s whether email was killing fax machines and snail mail. The answer would have been an unequivocal “yes” followed by cheers of “hallelujah” and “it’s about time” because both had bumped into the limits of their utility. How quickly 1990s consumers leaped to something faster, less impactful and cheaper than the older approach was a sign that they were ready for it.

Something similar is happening in today’s power markets, as customers again choose faster, less impactful, cheaper options – namely wind, solar and natural gas plants that quickly boost or cut their output – as opposed to clinging to the outdated, lumbering options developed decades before. Even the Department of Energy’s own analysis states that “many of the old paradigms that govern the (electricity) sector are also evolving.”

Wind and solar are making older generators less viable because their low, stable prices and emissions-free operation are desirable. And they aren’t hurting grid reliability the way critics had assumed because other innovations have happened simultaneously.

Texas pioneer

Let’s use the case study of Texas to illustrate. Since Texas has its own grid, known as the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas or ERCOT, and has installed more wind capacity than the next three wind-leading states combined, the Texas experience shows what variable renewables like wind power do to the grid.

In competitive markets like ERCOT, companies that run power plants place bids into an auction to provide electricity at a certain time for a certain price. A bid stack is jargon for “a stack of bids” – or the collection of all these bids lined up in order by price – in auction-based markets (such as Texas).

Markets use bid stacks to make sure that the lowest-cost power plants are dispatched first and the most expensive power plants are dispatched last. This market-based system is designed to deliver the lowest-cost electricity to consumers while also keeping power plant owners from operating at a loss. Throughout the day, the market price for electricity (in $/Megawatt-hour) changes as demand changes.

The cost of natural gas also affects the price of electricity. As the price of natural gas drops, each of the natural gas power plants drop in price. That’s no surprise: When it costs less for them to operate, they can bid a lower price into the market and move earlier in the line.

When gas drops into to the range of US$3 to $3.50 (per million BTU) and lower, it begins to displace coal as a less expensive source of electricity. This scenario reflects today’s reality: gas is cheap so grids are using it for more of our electricity than coal.

How do renewables affect the bid stack? Renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydro have no fuel costs – sunlight, wind and flowing water are free. That means their marginal operational cost is near zero; the cost is essentially the same to operate one megawatt of wind as compared to the cost of operating 10 megawatts of wind since generators don’t need to buy fuel. That means as more wind and solar farms are installed, more capacity is inserted at the cheapest end of the bid stack.

This insertion pushes out other generators such as nuclear, natural gas and coal, causing some of them to no longer be dispatched into the grid – that is, they don’t supply power into the grid (or get paid). So as more renewables are installed, power markets dispatch fewer conventional options. And, because the marginal cost of these new sources is almost free, they substantially lower the cost for electricity. This is great news for consumers (all of us) as our bills decrease, but bad news for competitors (such as coal plant owners) who operate their plants less often and are paid less when the plants do operate.

What does all this mean? Natural gas and renewables are affecting coal in two ways. Natural gas is a direct competitor with coal because both can be dispatched – turned on – when a grid operator needs more power. That is helpful for grid reliability. But, as the cost of natural gas has fallen, coal has become less competitive because it is cheaper to operate a natural gas power plant.

The effect of renewables is slightly different: Wind and solar power are not dispatchable, so they cannot be turned on at a moment’s notice. But, when they do turn on, during windy evenings or sunny days in Texas, they operate at very low marginal cost and thus operate very competitively.

Research at UT Austin shows that while installing significant amounts of solar power would increase annual grid management costs by $10 million in ERCOT, it would reduce annual wholesale electricity costs by $900 million. The result of all this is that renewables compete with conventional sources of power, but they do not displace nearly as much coal as cheap natural gas. In fact, cheap gas displaces, on average, more than twice as much coal than renewables have in ERCOT.

What about nuclear?

Nuclear’s problems are largely self-inflicted. In short: The price to build nuclear is high, so we don’t build many nuclear plants these days. Since we don’t build, we don’t have the manufacturing capability. Since we don’t have the manufacturing capability, the price to build nuclear is high. Since the price to build nuclear is high, we don’t build nuclear these days…so on and so forth.

Today, cheap gas, having already beaten up on coal, is a threat to new nuclear power plants and less efficient, older plants. New natural gas combined cycle power plants can be built for about one-sixth the cost of a new nuclear plant, is almost twice as efficient and you can build them in smaller increments, making them easier to finance.

Market innovation and IT can fix reliability

Because wind energy comes and goes with the weather, it makes grid operators nervous. But wind forecasting has improved dramatically, giving more confidence to those who need to keep the lights on.

And, interestingly enough, the requirements for reserve capacity (backup power for when wind power dips) to manage the grid smoothly went down, not up, over the past few years in Texas, despite rapid growth in wind during Governor Perry’s tenure. That is, the costs for managing variability in the grid decreased.

Why has there been little disruption to the reliability of the Texas grid? Because alongside rapid growth in wind installations was a market transformation in ERCOT. While Secretary Perry was governor, the Texas market went from a coarse, slow market to a fine-tuned, fast market. Innovating the market to one that is dynamic and fully functioning made it easy to include more wind into the system. It’s also a sign of how advanced technologies enable us to reinvent the grid toward one that is cheaper, cleaner and more reliable.

But there is still more to do – information technology coupled with integrated hardware can help. Consider this: There are 7.7 million smart meters in Texas, most of them residential. We’ve estimated that installing 7 million controllable thermostats for just the households in Texas would cost $2 billion. Residential air conditioning is responsible for about 50 percent of peak demand in Texas in the summer. That means about 30 gigawatts of peak demand in Texas is just from residential air conditioners.

By dynamically managing our air conditioning loads – that is, adjusting thermostats to lower overall demand without impacting people’s comfort – we could reduce peak demand by 10 to 15 GW. That means we might not need $10 billion to $15 billion worth of power plants. Spending $2 billion to avoid $15 billion is a good deal for consumers. In fact, you could give the thermostat away for free and pay each household $700 for their trouble and it would still be cheaper than any power plant we can build.

In the end, Secretary Perry has posed good questions. Thankfully, because of lessons learned while he was governor of Texas, we already have answers: despite concerns to the contrary, incorporating wind and solar into the grid along with fast-ramping natural gas, smart market designs and integrated load control systems will lead to a cleaner, cheaper, more reliable grid.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Joshua Rhodes abides by the disclosure policies of the University of Texas at Austin. The University of Texas at Austin is committed to transparency and disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. He has filed all required financial disclosure forms with the university. Joshua Rhodes has not received any research funding that would create a conflict of interest or the appearance of such a conflict. In addition to research work on topics generally related to energy systems at the University of Texas at Austin, Joshua Rhodes is an equity partner in IdeaSmiths LLC, which consults on topics in the same areas of interests. The terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by the University of Texas at Austin in accordance with its policy on objectivity in research.

Michael E. Webber receives funding from many research partners and sponsors, including the U.S. Department of Energy, Texas State Energy Conservation Office, ERCOT, the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and many others. A complete listing of funders for his research at UT Austin can be found at www.webberenergygroup.com. Michael E. Webber abides by the disclosure policies of the University of Texas at Austin. The University of Texas at Austin is committed to transparency and disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. He has filed all required financial disclosure forms with the university. In addition to research work on topics generally related to energy systems at the University of Texas at Austin, Webber is an equity partner in IdeaSmiths LLC, which consults on topics in the same areas of interests. The terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by the University of Texas at Austin in accordance with its policy on objectivity in research.

Thomas A. Deetjen abides by the disclosure policies of the University of Texas at Austin. He receives funding from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and has contributed to research projects funded by ExxonMobil.

F. Todd Davidson does not work or consult for any company that would benefit from the content of this article. Todd has received funding from oil and gas companies, such as Statoil. Todd personally owns shares in Kinder Morgan, General Electric, and Apache. Todd abides by the disclosure policies of the University of Texas at Austin and has filed all required financial disclosure forms with the university. Todd has no relevant affiliations beyond his academic positions with the University of Texas at Austin.

Jun 14

Massachusetts Bills Create New Opportunities for Microgrids, Non-Wires Alternatives





Massachusetts Bills Create New Opportunities for Microgrids, Non-Wires Alternatives


June 13, 2017


Already a promising microgrid market, Massachusetts could get even better should new bills pass that promote non-wires alternatives, grid modernization, energy storage, and green and local energy.

non-wires alternativesThe Alliance for Clean Energy Solutions (ACES), a coalition of environmental and industry groups, discussed the bill and its other legislative priorities in an interview Monday, as it prepares for energy hearings at the state capitol this week.

“The appetite for local energy and microgrids continues to grow in Massachusetts because of declining costs for solar, progress on energy efficiency, and the attention the Baker administration has given to energy storage,” said Peter Shattuck, Massachusetts director for the Acadia Center and ACES co-chair.

The various bills focus on identifying non-wires alternatives, setting energy storage targets, expanding the renewable portfolio standard, removing solar net metering caps, creating clean energy financing, and establishing incentive rates for electric vehicle charging.

For microgrids, one of the most significant bills requires that utilities install non-wires alternatives where they prove less expensive than conventional approaches. Also called local energy resources, non-wires alternatives are built in lieu of centralized infrastructure, such as power plants, substations and transmission and distribution. Utilities would competitively procure the non-wires alternatives – microgrids, solar plus storage, demand response or other forms of distributed energy.

The non-wires alternatives proposal is within a new grid modernization bill, H. 1725/S. 1875, that would “reset” a proceeding now before the state Department of Public Utilities, Shattuck said. The legislation puts greater emphasis on modernizing the grid via local energy than does the existing grid modernization docket.

The bill borrows from a successful approach used for energy efficiency in Massachusetts, where a stakeholder board participates in utility planning. In this case, a seven-member board would include state officials and advocates for the environment, business, technology and consumers.

Should the legislation become law, utilities would competitively procure non-wires alternatives, as well as take several other steps to foster distributed energy. For example, utilities would create publicly accessible ‘hosting maps’ with information about interconnections where opportunities present themselves for non-wires alternatives. Utilities also would identify or develop incentives for local energy.

In turn, the utilities would be eligible for possible performance incentives, as well as pre-authorization for grid modernization spending. Pre-authorization helps diminish the risk of utilities being denied cost recovery by regulators after they’ve already made the investment.

Plans for New England-wide non-wires alternatives

Sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Benson and Sen. Marc Pacheco, both Democrats, the bill also looks beyond Massachusetts by considering the New England-wide impact of non-wires alternatives. New England already has used such multi-state planning for securing transmission and renewables. In this case, Massachusetts would bring a local energy project to other states if it determines that the project lowers costs regionally, but not for Massachusetts in particular. The state would seek an agreement among the states for joint payment of the project.

The local energy resources bill is now before the legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, and is expected to be taken up in the fall.

Another bill builds upon the state’s already aggressive plans for energy storage. Energy storage legislation signed last year by Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, led to a decision by the state to set a target to install a specified amount of energy storage by 2020. The state Department of Energy Resources (DOER)  is expected to announce the exact figure by July 1. The new bill (H. 1746/S. 1874) would require that the state also set energy storage targets for 2025 and 2030.

Also sponsored by Sen. Pacheco, as well as Rep. Patricia Haddad, a Democrat, the legislation requires that before December 31, 2018, the DOER set a statewide goal to deploy 1,766 MW of energy storage by January 1, 2025. Then by December 31, 2020, the state would set another target, this one unspecified, to be achieved by 2030.

The energy storage bill also opens the door to creating ‘alternative compliance payments,’ a kind of penalty charged if utilities and retail suppliers fail to make the target. The state now applies similar penalties for failure to meet renewable energy portfolio standards. The money collected goes back into programs to develop green energy.

More behind-the-meter storage

At the same time, the bill would limit how much energy storage a utility or retail supplier could own. Shattuck said that the legislation places emphasis on securing more behind-the-meter – as opposed to utility-scale – energy storage than did last year’s energy storage bill.

“We’re glad to see utilities entering the energy storage market. Eversource, in their rate case, has a significant $100 million of storage proposed across four projects. But there is a clearly a big market for behind the meter storage as well,” Shattuck said.

Research by the Vermont-based Clean Energy Group indicates that last year’s state report, “State of Charge,” may have underestimated the potential for cost-effective behind-the-meter storage in Massachusetts. Clean Energy Group found that the state based its estimate on demand charges within National Grid’s service territory, which are lower than demand charges for the other major utility in the state, Eversource, he said. Demand charges are pertinent because commercial and industrial utility customers employ storage to reduce the charges.

The energy storage bill is scheduled for a hearing today before Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy.

Among the several green energy proposals, ACES’s top priority for this year is a bill that increases the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 40-50 percent by 2030, with annual increases running two to three percent after that.  The state’s current RPS requires that 12 percent of electricity come from renewables this year, rising to 15 percent by 2020. RPS requirements benefit microgrids because they create a revenue stream – renewable energy credits – for green energy development. New microgrids often include renewables, solar in particular.

“Given the federal government’s retrograde energy policies, it’s critical that states show a willingness to embrace clean energy solutions,” said Shattuck. “We’re proud of the direction our ACES members have taken in ensuring that Massachusetts remain a leader in the nation’s clean energy future.”


Jun 14

New Era of Climate Action: Local Forces Fill the Vacuum Left by the Feds





New Era of Climate Action: Local Forces Fill the Vacuum Left by the Feds

June 9, 2017


The U.S. is entering a new era of climate action, says the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Paul Bodnar. A coalition of local entities is gathering strength and stepping forward to fill what, until now, has been a federal effort.

climate actionA new era of U.S. climate action has dawned. In the four short days since President Trump announced his intent to withdraw from the landmark Paris Agreement, more than 1,000 U.S. states, cities, businesses, and universities have organized themselves into an unprecedented coalition dedicated to continuing strong U.S. climate leadership. In their “We Are Still In” statement issued yesterday, American governors, mayors, investors, CEOs, and college and university leaders are sending a clear signal that they remain committed to the goals of the Paris Agreement and will press forward regardless. This action opens a new chapter in the history of international collaboration on climate change.

States, cities, and businesses are not new to the climate scene: they have made impressive commitments to clean energy and reduced emissions in recent years through various platforms like Under2MOU, C40, and Low Carbon USA. But internationally, where sovereign nations negotiated the Paris Agreement, subnational actors have tended to play second fiddle—until now.

By virtually any measure, the combined size of the signatories to the June 5 “We Are Still In” pledge is larger than most countries. The cities and states that have signed the statement range from Los Angeles and Oregon to Houston, Tallahassee, and the Commonwealth of Virginia. They have a combined GDP of $6.2 trillion and population of 120 million. The more than 900 signatory companies (so far) have combined revenue of $1.4 trillion and assets under management of $2.1 trillion. And the number of participants continues to climb by the hour.

Since President Trump’s announcement, world leaders have lined up to confirm their commitment to the Paris accord. Now they know they have a partner in the United States, even if it’s not the federal government. And in fact, the dramatic decrease in carbon emissions that the U.S. has seen in recent years is significantly due to the work of state and local governments and the private sector. President Trump has withdrawn the official “nationally determined contribution” (NDC) of the United States under the Paris Agreement—the goal of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025 compared to 2005 levels. But intriguingly, if you add up the combined commitments of the states, cities, and businesses that have joined forces, they would form an impressive alternative NDC or, more appropriately, a “societally determined contribution.” If losing the commitment of the federal government to the Paris Agreement spurs states, cities, businesses, universities, and investors to do substantially more to reduce carbon emissions, then the result could even be a net positive for our country, our climate, and our planet.

Leaders of institutions and enterprises across the U.S. are clear-eyed about their commitments, and what’s at stake. Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer of Microsoft, said, “We remain steadfastly committed to the sustainability, carbon, and energy goals that we have set as a company and to the Paris Agreement’s ultimate success. Our experience shows us that these investments and innovations are good for our planet, our company, our customers, and the economy.” And they understand that American leadership is necessary in the fight against climate, even as our government begins the process of withdrawing from an accord we did so much to create. Mayor Frank Cownie, of Des Moines, Iowa, said, “I have seen firsthand how other countries look to the United States as the most important leader in addressing climate change and the resulting impacts. It is my hope that cities and states will continue to lead this work.”

The signers understand that committing the U.S. to the Paris Agreement protects much more than the climate, and offers benefits far beyond maintaining the status quo. Accelerating the clean energy transition already underway in the U.S. and around the world will create jobs, ensure security and stability, and create far more value than it requires in investments. For the U.S. in particular, it will promote trade, help ensure our security, spur innovation, and provide for continued competitiveness.

Rocky Mountain Institute is proud to have played a part in creating this new effort, and we will continue to engage with climate leaders who understand that building a clean energy economy is right for the climate, but is also a driver of economic growth, jobs, and healthy communities.

Paul Bodnar is a managing director at the Rocky Mountain Institute.

May 27

Pretty Soon Electric Cars Will Cost Less Than Gasoline


Pretty Soon Electric Cars Will Cost Less Than Gasoline

by Jess Shankleman
May 26, 2017



Battery powered cars will soon be cheaper to buy than conventional gasoline ones, offering immediate savings to drivers, new research shows.

Automakers from Renault SA to Tesla Inc. have long touted the cheaper fuel and running costs of electric cars that helps to displace the higher upfront prices that drivers pay when they buy the zero-emission vehicles.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance sees electric cars becoming cheaper than conventional vehicles by 2030.

Now research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance indicates that falling battery costs will mean electric vehicles will also be cheaper to buy in the U.S. and Europe as soon as 2025. Batteries currently account for about half the cost of EVs, and their prices will fall by about 77 percent between 2016 and 2030, the London-based researcher said.

“On an upfront basis, these things will start to get cheaper and people will start to adopt them more as price parity gets closer,” said Colin McKerracher, analyst at the London-based researcher. “After that it gets even more compelling.”

Renault, maker of the Zoe electric car, predicts total ownership costs of EVs will by the early 2020s equal conventional internal combustion engine vehicles (known in the trade as ICE), according to Gilles Normand, the French company’s senior vice president for electric vehicles.

“We have two curves,” Normand said in an interview earlier this month in London. “One is EV technology cost reductions because there are more breakthroughs in the cost of technology and more volume, so the cost of EVs will go down. ICE going to go up as a result of more stringent regulations especially regarding to particulate regulations.”

May 27

Miles of Ice Collapsing Into the Sea


Antarctic Dispatches   Part 1 2 3


Miles of Ice Collapsing Into the Sea

May 22

Cape Light Compact, county put finishing touches on separation


Cape Light Compact, county put finishing touches on separation


BARNSTABLE — Barnstable County’s two-decade relationship with the Cape Light Compact is over.

But it took nearly two hours of public comment and impassioned debate at Wednesday’s meeting of the county’s Assembly of Delegates in the basement of the Barnstable District Court before one final related matter could be settled.

An ordinance calling for a comprehensive audit of the compact before it separates from the county on June 30 failed to gain enough support from the 15-member legislative board. The assembly includes one delegate from each of Cape Cod’s 15 towns, each of whom has a weighted vote based on his or her town’s population.

Delegates representing 73 percent voted against the ordinance, while delegates representing 17.42 percent of the vote supported it, and delegates representing 9.58 percent were absent.

The ordinance was sponsored by Deborah McCutcheon, the delegate from Truro, and supported by four other delegates.

The proposed audit was meant to determine what properties, intellectual or otherwise, may be owned by the county, which provided startup funding and ongoing administrative and financial services to the compact. It also contained language that would prohibit the compact from leaving the county until the audit was completed.

The compact was formed in 1997 to buy power in bulk, and advocate for and administer energy efficiency programs for customers in the 21 towns on the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard. During the two decades since the compact’s formation, the county has been acting as its fiscal agent and providing administrative functions, such as payroll and accounts payable.

More recently, however, the relationship had become strained, as the compact, through the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative, supported renewable energy projects, and as ratepayers and county officials questioned whether the compact was acting in their best interests.

In late 2016, a separation agreement representing an administrative break between the county and compact, effective June 30, was approved by a 2-1 vote by the Barnstable County Commissioners, the regional government’s executive branch.

The compact has since moved toward becoming a joint powers entity in accordance with a statute enacted in 2016 as part of the state’s Municipal Modernization Act. As a joint powers entity, the compact will be able to operate independently, have its own federal employer identification number and protect members from liabilities.

As of Wednesday, 19 of the 21 towns on the Cape and Vineyard have joined the entity, as has Dukes County. The Barnstable Town Council votes on whether to join the new organization at its meeting Thursday.

The compact will be moving from its office space in the county complex in mid-June to a new office space on White’s Path in South Yarmouth.

“This is the last time we’ll ever have a discussion about the Cape Light Compact,” said Assembly Speaker Suzanne McAuliffe of Yarmouth Port, in response to a comment by delegate Ronald Bergstrom, former speaker and a supporter of the ordinance, that she had “indulged” speakers to talk for too long on the topic, some of which he considered irrelevant.


May 22



What is a microgrid?

A microgrid is a local energy grid with control capability, which means it can disconnect from the traditional grid and operate autonomously.

How does a microgrid work?

To understand how a microgrid works, you first have to understand how the grid works.

The grid connects homes, businesses and other buildings to central power sources, which allow us to use appliances, heating/cooling systems and electronics. But this interconnectedness means that when part of the grid needs to be repaired, everyone is affected.

This is where a microgrid can help. A microgrid generally operates while connected to the grid, but importantly, it can break off and operate on its own using local energy generation in times of crisis like storms or power outages, or for other reasons.

A microgrid can be powered by distributed generators, batteries, and/or renewable resources like solar panels. Depending on how it’s fueled and how its requirements are managed, a microgrid might run indefinitely.

How does a microgrid connect to the grid?

A microgrid connects to the grid at a point of common coupling that maintains voltage at the same level as the main grid unless there is some sort of problem on the grid or other reason to disconnect. A switch can separate the microgrid from the main grid automatically or manually, and it then functions as an island.



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