Can we really take control of our own energy on Martha’s Vineyard? The answer is yes, according to Vineyard Power, the Island’s energy co-operative. It’s their mission to be our utility company, producing electricity from local, renewable resources, while advocating for and keeping the benefits within our community.
How you may ask can this happen? Well, Vineyard Power plans to accomplish this goal through several commercial scale solar installations, an offshore wind farm, and the implementation of smart grid technology. Thinking this sounds impossible for the near future? Think again, on Friday, August 24th, they had a sort of opening ceremony for their 128 KW solar canopy in Cronig’s Market parking lot.
The event was well attended and there was a buzz in air, not from the panels but from excitement. Senator Wolf was there, the MV press was there, a number of supporters, and then me with my little ones in tow. I actually was glad I had them. These are the types of projects that are going to secure their chance to live in this beautiful place. They help me get a different perspective of things. I (we) really do have to work about future generations.
Let’s first talk a bit about the canopy. Yes it does look like a Sonic drive-in, but it actually has a number of positives. The most basic plus was the shade it provides for cars parked under it. A hot August day can really heat up a car, and of course the fact that it’s a great conversation piece.
But let’s talk about the technical bonuses – it’s making electricity with all those solar panels. So much more than just a canopy. Wondering just how much? Well enough to power a few dozen homes to give you an idea. However with this array (techie term), Cronig’s is purchasing the electricity. It’s covering about one quarter of Cronig’s consumption. That’s pretty amazing if you think about it. Also, there are the Island’s first four electric car charging stations, which I imagine we’ll see more of in the future here.
Was it expensive to build, yes, the initial investment was a lot. Will it pay for itself, yes it will, and will provide a small return for those who invested in the canopy, and then it will belong to the people of Martha’s Vineyard through Vineyard Power. It will be a renewable energy resource for us to use for years to come.
How did this solar canopy come about? Well, Vineyard Power is the advocate and is working with a number of additional possible sights for these types of canopies. For this one in particular, Steve Bernier was willing to have it on Cronig’s property, South Mountain was willing to build it, and Solaire Generation was willing to design it. On a side note, Solaire Generation has made two of the largest solar canopies in the country – one at Rutgers University and one at Dow Jones, and now we have one at Cronig’s. Another cool fact.
The reality of the situation is that we will have more of these canopies on the Island. Some will be on private land and some will be on public land. More people will see the benefits and invest in them, and there are also a number of State and Federal subsidies available for these types of projects. It’s great that Vineyard Power has brought this to the Vineyard now.
We’ve always considered ourselves to be a bit progressive, and this is in line with that. In order to preserve the landscape we cherish, we have to change our energy landscape. Along with solar canopies and wind turbines (thoughtfully placed) and more, we have the chance to control our own resources. In an uncertain world, it’s comforting to know that our little Island is looking out for its future.
To find out more about Vineyard Power, visit their website or give them a call if you have questions or want to know more. The work they’re doing for Martha’s Vineyard is quite amazing. Don’t forget that is is a co-op, so you can become a member, and do your part to secure our energy future. There are currently 1,251 members, and it’s only $150 to join. An added incentive, there are a limited number of $20 Offshore Ale Company gift certificates available to new members.
Thanks for reading On Point – I hope you enjoyed it. You can find Vineyard Power on Facebook. And speaking of social media, don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook, on follow us on Twitter, Linked In, Pinterest and YouTube.