Many us gasped in horror when we opened our NSTAR bill last month (now Eversource). Everyone I know had an increase, some greater than others.
I think a lot of Islanders have now begun to wonder what they can do to address the added cost when it can be financially challenging to live on Martha’s Vineyard year-round.
Well earlier this month, Vineyard Power, the Island company whose goal it is to produce electricity from local, renewable resources, announced some news that can truly affect how we get our power.
A little curious about what I had heard, I thought it would be a good time to meet with Erik Peckar, the General Manager of Vineyard Power.
The Island is moving toward a partnership of a wind farm. On January 29th, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), announced the successful bid to lease a parcel of land, 166,886 acres, 12 miles away from Martha’s Vineyard, to be leased to Vineyard Power and Offshore MV (no relation to Offshore Ale).
To give you an idea of location, the closest beach to the land is South Beach. It’s known as area OCS-A 501.
The two organizations, whose collaboration is referred to as Martha’s Vineyard Offshore Wind Alliance (MVOWA), signed a Community Benefit Agreement, which basically means that they’ll work together to develop utility scale offshore wind power.
This is the first type of agreement of its kind, a non-profit, community based energy company and a for profit wind farm developer.
This is a really big deal for Vineyard Power, which by the way, is the only community based utility of its kind. A little pat on the back for the Island being progressive in an effort to help control its power.
It means that Martha’s Vineyard could very well supply the energy needed to be self sustaining. Imagine the Island could be powered by the wind. Wouldn’t that be something.
Vineyard Power would be our electricity provider, and rates would definitely be a lot lower than they are now. We would be involved in our power source and have a say.
And while not everyone supports the idea of the wind farm, it does have the potential to generate additional jobs on the Island. There would most likely be a need to have people managing the wind farm on a daily basis and the base would be on Martha’s Vineyard. Ships would be required to transport people, and there would be the need for more people to help manage it all.
A partnership has been forged, and the land has been leased. The Federal Government has done a site assessment plan, but there’s more work to be done.
Over the next two years, there will be environmental studies being done to ensure that the wind farm won’t be a detriment to the environment.
It is possible that in three to five years, we’ll have access to 36 megawatts and will be close to being in control of most of the electricity need for the Island. This is a major advance in wind energy and for the state of Massachusetts.
The Community Benefit Agreement brings Vineyard Power one step closer to its vision: to be Martha’s Vineyard’s community-owned utility company. These goals will be accomplished through several commercial scale solar installations, an offshore wind farm, and the implementation of smart grid technology.
How can you help and get involved? Become a member of Vineyard Power. It costs $200 to join, a one time fee, and the next meeting for members is going to be March 4th at the PA Club in Oak Bluffs, where the name of the new wind farm will be decided.
We’ll see, and I will help keep you in the loop on the progress. Whether you support a wind farm or not, it’s good to know about how Martha’s Vineyard will be affected.
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