Solar panels shine bright

Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative celebrates 12 years, 12 megawatts of power, and more than $12 million in savings to its members.

296 solar photovoltaic panels have been installed on the roof of the Oak Bluffs Fire Station. — Robert Gatchell

The Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC) celebrated the installation of solar photovoltaic panels on the roof of the Oak Bluffs Fire Station Sunday while simultaneously celebrating another round of solar panel installations for its Cape and Vineyard members.

Liz Argo, CVEC’s manager, brought coffee and doughnuts to the fire station Sunday morning to celebrate the solar panel installation as the fire department held its second annual open house, running safety drills for a crowd of people, and even taking kids up in the air with the fire truck’s cherry picker. Those rides provided a great view of the 296 solar panels installed on the roof by Alliance Clean Energy Solar, a North Andover–based solar installer.

CVEC is a nonprofit electric cooperative established in 2007. It’s currently comprised of 17 towns on the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard, including Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, Chilmark, Edgartown, and West Tisbury. Dukes County, Barnstable County, and Cape Light Compact are also part of the cooperative. They provide lower-cost financing for large-scale renewable energy projects, regional benefits, and professional and technical experience. This ends up giving towns significant electrical cost savings.

CVEC’s first round was focused on installing solar arrays on capped landfills. Round two continued landfill installations, including at the West Tisbury landfill. Round three comes as CVEC celebrates its 12th anniversary.

Round three plans to add one megawatt to CVEC’s existing 34 megawatts that benefit the cooperative’s participating municipalities.

“At the end of March 2019, cumulative savings to CVEC’s participating entities had topped $12.6 million,” CVEC president Leo Cakounes said in a press release. “With the accompanying annual carbon equivalent reductions from CVEC projects, CVEC is both securing regional sustainability and ensuring freedom from dependence on fossil fuels. CVEC will continue in this role as we work toward a stable and renewable future for the Cape and Vineyard.”

Looking ahead, CVEC plans to begin round four at the end of the year, or in early 2020. Round four is expected to add another 12 megawatts, which includes paired energy storage systems. Once round four is complete, power production from CVEC projects will meet an estimated 3 percent of the Cape and Vineyard’s entire electric usage.

The Oak Bluffs fire station runs on 92,768 kilowatt-hours per year. The panels atop the Oak Bluffs fire station are expected to generate 135,807 kilowatt-hours per year of electricity. Argo said the excess power generated will most likely go to supplement power at another site, such as town hall.


  1. I was delighted to watch the cooling towers at Bryant point come down ( ) they cost 600 million to put up and only operated for 67 months — almost 9 million a month–. Coal may be cheap, but if you want to have clean air and fish in the rivers, it’s not.
    I am also delighted to see solar panels going up on our island and in our state to replace the 12 thousand tons of coal it burned every day. Kudo’s to the towns for leading the way…

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