A carbon-free M.V. by 2040

Group develops Island energy and greenhouse gas baseline.

The Climate Action Task Force is focused on a fossil-fuel free Martha’s Vineyard by 2040 by installing renewable energy sources such as the solar panels on the Oak Bluffs fire staiton. — Robert Gatchell

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s Climate Action Task force is developing a roadmap for the Island to become carbon-free by 2040 as part one of its three-phase plan.

The task force’s energy working group, made up of Richard Andre, Marc Rosenbaum, Alan Strahler, Tom Soldini, Rob Hannemann, and Kate Warner, is defining the challenge the Island faces with a series of four papers focused on electricity, transportation, HVAC and buildings, and energy efficiency.

Last year, the commission established the Climate Action Task Force, a group dedicated to addressing the Island’s response to climate change. The task force is made up of MVC commissioners, MVC staff, community climate experts, and leaders of local sustainable businesses and organizations. 

The task force is developing policy and plans in two areas: adaptation to the current and future challenges resulting from climate change and mitigation of the Island’s contribution to climate change.

At a meeting Friday, Hannemann presented the electricity working paper.

The task force’s mitigation is primarily focused on eventually eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fuel energy generation and use. Their goals are to reduce fossil fuel usage on the Island by 50 percent by 2030, then100 percent by 2040, while simultaneously increasing total electricity use from renewable sources to 50 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040. They plan to achieve this by fostering energy efficiency and conservation, and transforming the Island’s electricity infrastructure with significant renewable energy sources.

The working paper developed an energy and greenhouse gas baseline, using 2018 data from Cape Light Compact, Massachusetts SREC and SMART programs for solar, New England Power Pool, R.M. Packer Co., and the Steamship Authority.

“There’s a lot of people who say, ‘Why would we be worried about energy, electricity, and greenhouse gas emission on Martha’s Vineyard? We’re so small, we’re not a major player in that,’” Hannemann said. “If you’re ever in a conversation like that, there’s a very quick phrase that I use that actually gets to the heart of this: Combating climate change is basically social justice for future generations.”

The group then separated data into three sectors: electricity, transportation, and building-related fossil fuel heating. 

In 2018, transportation, which includes gasoline, diesel, marine diesel from the SSA, and aviation fuel, made up the majority of the Island’s energy use, at 45.5 percent. Building HVAC heating oil and propane were at 31.8 percent, with electricity at 22.7 percent.

According to the group, the Island’s energy use in 2018 amounts to the entire 40-day output of a nuclear power plant. Assuming an average Island population of 25,000 in 2018, the Island’s greenhouse gas footprint was 12 U.S. tons per person — compared to the U.S. average of 17.6 tons, Japan’s 9.9 tons, and the U.K.’s 7.2 tons. 

“Since there is very little manufacturing on the Island, and distances traveled are very small, our greenhouse gas footprint is basically comparable to the U.S. as a whole,” the working paper states.

This is where transportation and buildings come in. Strategies to reduce energy use include switching to electric cars, reducing miles driven, minimizing heat and electricity for second homes that stand unoccupied for much of the year, using energy-efficient lighting, and developing policy initiatives at the local level. Constructing microgrids for town buildings, essential services, and in some neighborhoods, as well as supporting electric vehicle charging stations, will also be a major focus of planning.

In an effort to meet their goals, the paper states the task force should support the offshore wind industry in New England, plan for on-Island residential and commercial solar generation, and put pressure on the state legislature to pass the Community Empowerment Act, which would give towns and regions the ability to contract directly for renewable energy sources. The task force is also planning a partnership with Eversource to support future planning efforts around electricity.

With a baseline established, the group will continue presenting other working papers before entering phase two, which will work on updating the energy baseline with 2019 data, completing the Island Energy Model, and developing a scenario analysis. Phase three will be the development of a master plan.

Strahler and Soldini will be presenting the working paper on transportation at the task force’s next meeting, on July 3 at 9:30 am.


  1. Is this the new way of defending an argument? Social Justice for future generations? I want reparations–social justice for future generations. I want to defund the police–social justice for——. I want to knock down statues, social justice for future——, no tuition fees, no mortgage payments, no borders, social justice for future generations. This is brilliant. Just yell social justice like waving a wand.

    • Andrew, what do you see as the difference between social justice and plain old justice? Some Black citizens have had their rights denied on video, and nothing was done about it. Now there is a call to actively provide them with the same protections that every American is guaranteed, which they should’ve had all along. What is wrong with that? The Republican party claims to adore constitutional freedoms. Well, there are a number of cases where people of color have been denied theirs to a fatal degree, and far more cases of profiling and harassment. We want that resolved. Why is this goal frowned upon? It’s in keeping with every single thing I have heard Republicans say the value about our system, but when I point this out, they try to gaslight me. They tell me I’m being emotional. I am not. I am adhering to the law. Why does that constitutional talk dry up as soon as Black people are the would-be beneficiaries? Are you concerned about police who abuse their power?

      • Aquinnah, the article above says that climate change is about social justice. It is nothing of the kind. Dont throw that phrase around. I am all for social justice. I think it begins in the womb but I am castigated for that thought. Of course I dont agree with the few bad apple police who abuse their power. But most police are law abiding and loyal and work hard to protect us. They dont visit violence on people due to their skin color. Aquinnah, if you knew me you would know I want justice and equality for all people. I happen to believe that man is by nature depraved and sinful so we are always going to have people who behave badly including me. African Americans in this country have been given much and it is the best country in the world for them. Yes there is a very bad history but I would suggest that Democrats created the urban crime culture. In the 1960s, LBJ broadened eligibility and benefits for AFDC, guaranteeing cash welfare payments based on the number of kids born out of wedlock, as well as funded massive housing projects and subsidized Section 8 housing.The War on Poverty urban programs were the brainchild of the liberal elitist Sargent Shriver. Everything went south for the urban black community after these programs, which created inter-generational dependency on government and destroyed personal initiative. After LBJ’s War on Poverty welfare programs, out-of-wedlock births for blacks jumped from 24% in 1965 to today’s 71%. Crime, unemployment and dropout rates also soared. With 7 out of 10 black kids born today born w/o a father in the home. That is the tragedy visited upon the black community in America but no one is allowed to mention it and I will get pilloried for it here.

        • Andrew, relating the environment to social justice is another way of saying, “A man knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children.” A sentiment often expressed in more depth and beauty by indigenous wisdom. I can see objecting to modern phrasing, but the logic has stood the test of time. As with everything in life, what we don’t deal with today, we will be haunted by tomorrow. True of dirty dishes. True of dirty air and oceans.

          I brought up social justice vs. “real” justice because I’ve noticed a trend and wanted your thoughts. If someone demands equal rights for Black victims, their arguments are trivialized and promptly straw man’d. If white people have their rights violated, it is treated as a dire constitutional concern. A matter of patriotic urgency. The underlying cultural thinking remains that only white Americans are true Americans with absolute rights. The enforcement of non-white rights is subject to popular approval, not the letter of the law. This madness must stop. We continue to make progress in theory while betraying it in practice, where it most counts.

          I’m not sure what you mean about social justice before birth. If you are saying that Freakonomics-based thinking (backing abortion as a means of curbing crime) is putrid and racist, I agree. I also know that pregnant women of color need access to better medical care. Supporting this issue is one way to help babies and moms.


          I hate how the Black community has been treated for decades by politicians. That’s an essay of its own. Bills with racial bias helped tear apart Black families. I actually have a tough-on-crime mindset, especially for violent crimes (at the hands of anyone). But if laws dismantle one racial community while sparing another for the *exact* same acts, it’s no longer about justice or solutions.

          My issue with what you wrote is that it turns the tables. I was talking about Black people who are victims OF violent, power-abusing crimes. Not those committing them. We have cases of profiling, even murder, by white police or citizens where the Black victim has done nothing wrong. Countless people of color with NO criminal records have been sharing their stories of harassment lately. When outrage is expressed on their behalf, we are often met with “Black-on-Black” crime stats. The vast majority of crime in America is intraracial. You just don’t hear about white-on-white crime because white people are rarely called out for their race when they break the law. We judge them based on what they did.

          While we can kindly make reference to a Black community in some contexts, matters of law are entirely individual. No Black person has to wait for a crime-free utopia to exist before being granted his or her individual rights. That is the bottom line. Some white people commit tons of crime, but we don’t hold their neighbors responsible for it. No one would tolerate that.

          I could say more but feel bad for having strayed so far from the article.

        • andrew- social justice goes far beyond race. You talk about the rights of the “unborn” , and I respect you passion for this issue, But once the “unborn” become the “born”you seem to have little regard for their quality of life. You are opposed to nutritional programs , school lunch vouchers, and affordable medical care for people who do not have sufficient income to provide these essential services to their “born” children.
          You somehow expect people living on $7.25 an hour should buy private health insurance , and feed and educate their children so they can become productive members of society. And on top of that, you somehow think that this generation should be able to rape the planet of it’s finite resources, pollute it’s atmosphere, it’s water, and it’s land for the benefit of a small portion of hedonistic imbeciles driven by their short term lust and greed.
          You , Andrew, are fully in that category. For you to advocate for the “unborn” while pissing away any chance that the “born” can have to live productive lives unless they are privileged white people is beyond hypocrisy. It is foul, it is deplorable, it is criminal.
          Shame on you ,

      • “Andrew, what do you see as the difference between social justice and plain old justice? ”

        Good question, but the phrase did not originate with Andrew.
        Hanemann’s virtue-signaling does not answer the question.

      • Mellish your comments are old and tiresome and you know nothing of the condition so the so called wager. You would show greater maturity by not harping on it as a thrid party.

        • Actually Andy, I’ve followed this thing playing out in the comments since you made your bet. Including you disappearing right around the time 1000 deaths were recorded.
          And now that you’ve reappeared, I’ve watched you try numerous times to weasel out of paying.
          You would show greater maturity by just admitting you made a foolish bet based on blind loyalty to the conman in chief and payed what was owed.
          Probably gain a good amount of respect from commenters, myself included.

        • Why does the Times repeatedly allow this dishonesty from Andrew? We all read all the “conditions” of the bet Andrew initiated and lost and failed to honor.

      • Fielding– Just to clear up any ambiguity about the dollars for death bet that Andrew proposed and I accepted , Andrew has not ponied up a dime.
        And for the people who were not here for it and don’t know what this is about , Andrew proposed this– this is his entire comment posted on March 8 – there were 26 confirmed deaths in the U.S at the time

        “Dondondon. You are always asking me to wager on things. You who politicize the virus and blame it on Trump and exaggerate it beyond proportion, I will now ask you to make a bet with me for one thousand dollars. How about 1000 people in the US die from Coronavirus, Small number since this is a pandemic. If we dont reach that threshold you pay me. You wont take that bet because you know its not gonna happen. As for Trump being a ”complete idiot” will you soon be concerned with Biden’s diminished mental capacity and cognitive decline.? I promise you the 1000 dollars if I lose. I will chase you on your non CO2 spewing bicycle and hand you the money.”

        I responded on March 11 , There were 34 deaths in the U.S at the time

        andrew–Because I was recently traveling abraud with my small lap top,which is not registered with the mv times , I could only read a few stories once in a while on the Mv times.But I could read the headlines, and see comments.I did not immediately catch your wager offer about the COVID 19 virus
        I can see how some would think such a wager is disgusting, given that it is about people’s lives.
        I somewhat feel my yearly challenge about climate change falls into the same category, as the effects of climate change potentially are going to kill millions, and could bring down our entire civilization.
        But, Andrew, I will take you up on your wager .
        Not because I want anyone to die, nor will I “hope” that number is reached.The course of this pandemic is entirely out of my control. I will take the risk to prove a point.
        As unfortunate as it is,my opinion is that 1,000 deaths in the U.S is a statistical certainty.I will publicly pledge that any money, if and when I get it from you will be donated to Planned parenthood.
        If i win, and you renege on your commitment, i will also make that public.
        If you win, you can do whatever you want with my hard earned money.
        there is no question that i will pay up–”

        That’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
        And by the way, since Andrew hates planned Parenthood, I have since said I would donate the money tho the MV hospital instead, to make it a bit more palatable for him . I also will not require that he chase me on my bike.
        And for the record, Andrew has on this forum stated that he is a multimillionaire, so we need not think he should get a hardship pass.
        he has also described me as a “mediocre carpenter”. Even with my paltry income, I am committed to donating 100 % of the money.
        And you know, Andrew, this one is not going to go away.

        • Thanks for posting Andy’s bet again. Based on his comments before he made the bet, I suspectef if he lost, he wouldn’t pay. Once the death toll hit 1000 and he disappeared, I knew he wouldn’t pay. And once he showed back up, he did just what I figured he would. Denied making the bet. And then when hit with his actual comment, he said he didn’t have to pay because you didn’t accept it in the required time frame. Though he never stipulated a time frame.
          So far the only thing he’s done during this whole thing that has surprised me was showing back up.

    • Andrew, you’ve got yourself so worked up into an hysterical rant, fearing that folks not like you might be treated equally and fairly, that it looks like you posted this under the wrong article. Planning ahead for energy use and climate change has nothing to do with social justice.

        • You’re right, i apologize I missed that sentence on first reading. What a shame that you went off as you did because of a mention of wanting justice for our future generations.

          • Jackie its a miracle that you acknowledged I was right about something but then you spoiled it by intentionally misdirecting. Climate Change is not a social justice issue, and yet you falsely claim I do not want justice for future generations. No such thing.

        • Hey Andrew– note that strange word in Jackie’s first sentence.
          that 9 letter word between “I” and “I”
          you should look it up and try doing it sometime.

          • Gotta piggyback on this one to reply to Andrew. For some reason I can’t directly respond to him.
            Andy, I don’t believe Jackie actually said you were right. She just apologized for missing a sentence in the article.
            Nice job of trying to spin it in your favor. Between spewing half truths to make you the victim, and not paying your debts, it’s easy to see why you support trump.

    • What if the switch saved you $600 a year in heating costs?
      Would you still want the town to pay the $1,000 conversion cost?

    • Social Justice for all generations.
      I want to knock down statues to the traitors of the United States of America.
      I feel the same about the statues to the Nazi ‘heros’.
      We have no tuition fees for pre-K through 12, why should it stop at 12?
      We have no borders between states, why between countries?

      • “I want to knock down statues to the traitors of the United States of America.”
        How childish. Do you suppose this idea and this wording sprung from your own creative juices? Of course it didn’t. You are a silly little puppet.
        Your “social justice” is someone else’s vandalism.

  2. According to their statements it sounds like we could be sustainable with a fairly small nuclear power plant. I think the MVC should focus on that and present options to us to move forward.

    • Nuclear plants large and small have been proven to be uneconomical.
      Liability costs.
      Security costs.
      Used fuel processing costs.
      End of life plant disposal costs.
      But you knew that.
      You were just BSing us.

  3. I’m all for switching to an electric car and changing all the mechanicals in my house to solar if the six members of this committee want to pay for it.

  4. I agree with the initiative, but I hope people don’t get too smug about it. It will need to be about consumption as well. It’s easy for us to do because we don’t actually make anything and we have everything shipped into us… on vehicles that head back empty for 100s of miles, BTW. The island, and New England in general, outsourced much of our carbon footprint a generation ago. And now we look down on those who do the dirty work in more industrial parts of the country and planet.

  5. Great to hear of this group and this very necessary plan for 2040. All-electric vehicles doesn’t sound out of reach since cars and trucks wear out and there are good electric options being sold already, but I wonder if suitable tech is coming for boats.

    For building heat and appliances, I think this means every oil furnace, propane water heater and stove must be retired in favor of electric in the next 20 years. Seems like this will require not installing any new fossil-fueled appliances starting in 2025 at latest.

    I’m personally very happy with my electric heat pump – it’s quiet, affordable to run, cosy in the winter and does AC in the summer. We have to get the word out and make sure the heating contractors and homeowners are ready for a lot of retrofits, and that they’re affordable!

  6. BS…great idea and a pebble bed nuke reactor would get the full backing of Donx3 as he has touted several times on this forum of the advantages of such a reactor. Just think having someone like Donx3 on your side to counteract all the naysayers who I’m sure will chime in on such a ridiculous idea.

    • tq– because of the scale , complexity and ongoing safety issues associated with any nuclear reactors I do not think a nuke on the Vineyard would not be something I would support at this time. While it seems the pebble bed technology has greatly reduced the possibility of a melt down , there are many other issues concerning the transport, disposal, and safe handling of any fissionable material
      And don’t think it’s a “nimby” thing with me.
      As much as I am in favor of them , I do not know what the minimum output of a pebble bed reactor would be. It’s likely it would far exceed the demands of the island, especially in the winter. That would create the need for infrastructure to take excess energy off the island. There would also be serious regulatory issues to be resolved concerning how to get fissionable materials to the island, and spent fuel off the island. Also, given the certainty of legal battles over something like this it would likely never be approved, and with a multitude of issues, it would never be built for purely economic reasons alone.
      While I understand and support technological solutions to complex and multifaceted problems, I do not blindly support good technology when it is in an inappropriate setting.
      I guess you can count me among the naysayers on this one .

      • upon review, my first sentence contains a double negative . let me be clear– I do not support a nuke on the Vineyard.

  7. This is a marketing ploy. The head of Vineyard Power is the head of this plan. Obviously the concept is to create a justification for large scale industrial wind. Using “social justice” as the reason is really lame pandering.

    If the island was truly committed to reducing, we’d reduce consumption first. We wouldn’t endlessly sign on to these 20 year plans and empty slogans that only serve the corporate overlords.

    • Amen.
      Wind generation is dead in the water without fossil fuels to keep the grid functioning, so it can then “receive” intermittent spurts of playful wind energy.
      It is an obvious conflict of interest for Andre to serve on this committee.
      What are they thinking?

  8. Not switching out my furnace unless there is a tax credit or the town wants to pay 100% of the cost.

    • What if the switch saved you $600 a year in heating costs?
      Would you still want the town to pay the $1,000 in conversion costs?

      • From the research that I’ve done, it would be $15 – 25k to convert to solar…the ROI is at least 25 years if savings are only $600 per year. My furnace is only three years old and incredibly efficient. Would need a substantial tax credit to make it worth it.

  9. Like all other MVC ‘initiatives’ this will end up on a shelf in their dusty stone building… just like a new stop and shop in Tisbury.

  10. let’s be clear– this is an impossible dream. We could get to perhaps 80 or even 90 % .
    But to have a goal of 100 % is foolish. That would mean every fossil fuel burning machine of any kind would have to be replaced. Every gas station shut down, every vehicle replaced with an electric one in the next 20 years . That is an absurd goal. Even if we completely rape the high deserts of south America where the largest deposits of lithium are, we do not have the manufacturing capacity to provide any significant fraction of global energy demand in regards to battery storage capacity. While i am all for ramping up production of all things electric, a 100% goal is unattainable , and will only give fuel to the nut cases that think we should do noting.
    More realistic goals are in order.

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