Planning for a renewable energy future

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Edgartown energy committee chair Alan Stahler informed the town’s select board Monday that the Island needs to increase its efforts to meet renewable energy resolution goals approved at town meeting.

Strahler presented the board with parts of an energy report from the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s climate action task force that looks at how to transform the Island’s energy infrastructure from a dependence on fossil fuels to renewable electricity.

Edgartown passed a 100 percent renewable community resolution at 2021 town meeting with the goal to reduce fossil fuel use on the Island by 50 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040 while concurrently replacing that reduction of fossil fuel use with an increase in renewable electricity use.
Strahler said this can be done by electrifying “everything” such as vehicles, transportation, heating and cooling homes, as well as increasing the Island’s energy resiliency like battery storage and underground cables.

This change can be driven by economics because renewable energy will save money, according to Strahler. 

“Electric vehicles are cheaper to run and maintain and their prices will soon fall below gas powered vehicles,” he said. “We will be promoting solar photovoltaic energy. It typically has a 25 year life and a five year cost payback. After five years you’re going to be saving all that money on your electric bill.”

Strahler said from 2008 to 2019 the observed cumulative average growth rate of the Island’s energy use is about 3 percent per year. In 2019 through 2030 Eversource’s projected rate is 3/10 of a percent per year.

“We have a definite issue here where Eversouce is going with what they think the Island’s needs are,” he said.

Reaching the goal of all electric power on Island means accelerating the electrification process on the Island, doubling supply capacity, and strengthening energy resiliency. 

“What do we do about this? We keep the Island community informed, we work on policies and politics to get to these goals, we make town and Island energy saving projects happen, and we have to collaborate with Eversource, Cape Light Compact, the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative, Vineyard Power, and the Steamship. If we do all those things maybe we can get through this” Strahler said. “Edgartown has to help in this process.”

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