At a special meeting Monday morning, Oak Bluffs selectmen voted unanimously to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Eversource over a battery facility the utility company has proposed for a site off Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road. Eversource sought to circumvent local zoning on the project through the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU), and that did not sit well with Oak Bluffs officials. Oak Bluffs filed a motion to intervene in the matter. Before the DPU weighed in, Eversource and Oak Bluffs convened a tête-à-tête, and “the two parties came to an agreement,” selectman Gail Barmakian said.
In exchange for Oak Bluffs withdrawing its motion, Eversource will pay $50,000 to the town so it can secure a fire and emergency preparedness consultant, termed a “fire consultant,” in the MOU. The fire consultant will see to the training of Oak Bluffs and other Vineyard fire personnel in relation to potential emergencies at the facility, and recommend necessary apparatus and equipment for the same task. If the fire consultant recommends so, Eversource will pay an additional $10,000 per year for ongoing training.
Eversource also agreed to pay another $50,000 so Oak Bluffs can hire environmental, noise, or other technical consultants.
Eversource further agreed to accept a review by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. In a May 30 letter, Oak Bluffs planning board chairman Ewell Hopkins formally referred Eversource’s application for the facility to the MVC.
“We are thrilled to have received unanimous support this morning from the town of Oak Bluffs selectmen as it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with us for our battery storage project,” Eversource spokesman Reid Lamberty wrote in an email. “This battery will not only improve reliability for our customers on the Island, but it will also dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions created by five diesel-fired generators when electricity use is at its highest. We appreciate the town’s full support, and we will continue to collaborate with the town as the project goes into construction. Construction of the battery [facility] will start at the end of this year, and we expect it to be in service by the end of 2020.”