‘A winter of very expensive heating fuels’

Cape Light Compact warns West Tisbury about what Islanders may face. 

Islanders will need to prepare for a winter with higher fuel prices. — MV Times

The West Tisbury select board received a rundown of energy prices for the upcoming winter from Cape Light Compact during a Nov. 2 meeting. 

Board chair Cynthia Mitchell was absent due to a schedule conflict, so board member Skipper Manter filled in as acting chair.

Cape Light Compact administrator Maggie Downey presented information on energy prices, and that presentation is available on the West Tisbury website. “The Cape Light Compact governing board has been keenly aware and following what is happening in the energy markets in the Northeast,” she said. 

Downey noted, “We will be experiencing, and are experiencing” price increases in all fuel types, “increases the likes of which I have not seen in my lifetime in some of these areas.” Several factors are pushing prices higher. For electricity, the war in Ukraine has raised prices by limiting natural gas access. According to the information provided by Downey, 45 percent of the electricity that powers New England comes from “natural gas–fired plants.”

“Electricity is produced heavily in New England with natural gas. A lot of homes are heated with natural gas,” Downey said. “There’s been a 300 percent increase in natural gas prices since this time last year.” 

According to the Massachusetts Pipeline Safety Division, the state receives its natural gas from wells located in the southern U.S., western Canada, and in the Atlantic Ocean off Nova Scotia. However, impacts to U.S. natural gas imports affect the prices. 

“We rely very heavily on liquified natural gas to augment electricity generation, because you’re heating, generating, and producing electricity in the winter with the same fuel,” Downey said. “As a result of what is happening overseas and a lack of natural gas, we are competing [for] our imports — which we would rely on every year — we’re now competing with Europe for the same fuel.” To “attract enough” liquified natural gas to the country, “we are … competing and paying European prices.” 

Coal plants and nuclear plants shutting down is another reason prices are on the rise, according to Downey. While shutting down these fossil-fuel sources is not necessarily bad, a lack of renewable energy sources to replace the productivity of these plants is an issue. 

“What we have not seen is our offshore wind come on as quickly as we’ve shut down, so it’s pushed us to rely more heavily on natural gas. This is not forever, but this is going to be our winter. A winter of very expensive heating fuels, regardless of how you heat your home,” Downey said. 

There are steps people can take to prepare, according to Downey. One is having a home energy assessment to make sure it is ready for the winter, which can be done by contacting Cape Light Compact. Another is checking, based on income, if you qualify for an electric discount rate. These, alongside more common methods like unplugging appliances not in use and setting the thermostat to 68°F, are available in the packet. 

Erik Peckar, West Tisbury’s representative to Cape Light Compact, added there is a Mass Save store, a link to which is also on the Cape Light Compact website, which has deals for products  and appliances that come with rebates for energy conservation.

Manter said, “It’s amazing; history, as they say, repeats itself,” remembering the oil embargo of the 1970s. According to the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Historian, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries placed an oil embargo on the U.S. after its decision to resupply the Israeli military, and “to gain leverage in the postwar peace negotiations” in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War. “It’s almost echoing a lot of what you’re saying,” he noted. 

In other business, the board unanimously approved West Tisbury zoning board of appeals administrator Kim Leaird as the town’s disabled rider representative on the Vineyard Transit Authority board. Meanwhile, the board unanimously approved accepting Ted Jochsberger’s resignation from the West Tisbury affordable housing committee and Community Preservation committee. Jochsberger abruptly announced his resignation during an affordable housing committee meeting on Oct. 26.


  1. I wholeheartedly endorse getting an energy audit through Cape Light Compact. I had one done and used the recommended contactors to complete the work. Easy process. Big savings on work. Interested to see the impact on my winter bills.

    On another note, our utility’s lack of foresight to hedge the fuel prices is unconscionable. With a minimal effort the some of impact of these price spikes would have been easily avoidable.

  2. LL Bean has some really great lightweight long johns. They are not your father’s bulky, itchy wool one piecers.

  3. Citing the war in Ukraine as a reason for high prices is disingenuous. Climate hysteria and inefficient wind and solar has caused this and many of us saw this happening.

    • andy–so let me get this right– you think that people putting solar arrays on their roofs or municipalities putting them on the filled to capacity landfills that we closed and capped ( Mr Axel take notice) is the reason that the price of oil has risen dramatically on world markets?
      I guess it’s just a coincidence that the price surged when Russia invaded Ukraine and cut it’s
      exports of oil and gas to western countries.
      Is that what a former Ceo of a fortune 500 company actually thinks ?
      Really ?
      Or is it that you just have a politically motivated agenda that you push every time anything happens ?
      Solar panels caused the price of fossil fuels to double just after the supply of it was cut due to a war. Yup– nothin to see here folks, it’s just a little war disrupting the flow of fossil fuels but— RABBIT– Solar panels—- ARRRRGGGGHHHH
      The evil dems, with their tails and horns and their evil solar panels and windmills are the real cause.
      You know, in the late 1930’s many people in Germany thought that everything that happened that was not good for their country was the fault of a certain ethnic group.
      Just watch fox “news” for a few days– that sleepy guy that can’t tie his shoelaces and his evil horned followers are to blame for everything that is wrong with this country.
      I’m actually impressed at how he has managed to gain more power over every aspect of our lives than any other president in history.
      Think about it, he now controls the price of petroleum products worldwide, controls the price of food and everyday commodities, the hiring or firing of everyday people by private companies and of course the weather.
      By the way, oil production in the United States is higher than at any time since March of 2020
      Natural gas production in the U.S is also at an all time high.

      • Albert– yup- thank god for liars and the stupid people who believe them.
        It makes for great comedy on late night talk shows.

  4. I have noticed some of those cute stickers near gas pumps that have picture of “sleepy Joe” pointing at the high price of and saying ” I did that”
    andy thinks evil dems with solar panels caused it
    Others think the war in Ukraine and subsequent reduction of exports by Russia caused it.
    I’ll look at the facts

    Profits of major oil companies were in the tens of billions of dollars for just the past three months.

    “For example, ExxonMobil pulled in nearly $20 billion in profit. Chevron took in more than $11 billion, Shell $9.5 billion, BP over eight billion. And, today, the world’s largest oil company, Saudi Aramco, reported making $42 billion this quarter.” William Brangham , PBS correspondent. nov 1 2022.

    That’s profit.. It’s money that every one of us worked for, and they are gouging us.
    It’s money the top execs can put in their pocket and buy billion dollar Yachts with.

  5. Don, as much as I really didn’t want to, I just had drop in here.
    “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
    Don, you gotta open your eyes and see the big picture. Although you clearly don’t agree with Engelman’s politics, his statements regarding current energy deficits are valid.

  6. Phil – thanks for taking the time to drop in here.
    I agree with your quote from MLK . I will remember it.
    I also agree that I rarely agree with andy.
    But I do not disagree with him when he says something that I think is correct.
    So here we have a situation where we are facing natural gas prices that are around 3 times
    what they were last year. Natural gas is used to produce about 46 % of the electricity in New England. Renewables account for about 10 %
    As I mentioned above, the Unites states is producing more oil and natural gas than it was last year. There has been no reduction in the capacity of oil and gas companies to get these products , produced in the United States, into houses and vehicles on Martha’s Vineyard.
    Please show me some evidence to the contrary. I do not wish to remain ignorant, and am open to being educated on this issue.
    So I could go on a long diatribe about the world wide pricing of fossil fuels. It’s a complicated system with many moving parts and actors.
    I have been observing it and trying to understand the nuances of it since the early 1970’s when the world was shocked at how easily a few middle eastern countries could disrupt the economies of countries around the world.
    This winter, much of Europe is actually facing major shortages in their energy supplies.
    It will simply not be available, and it will have serious consequences– Especially in Ukraine. Some people there and possibly other parts of Europe will literally freeze to death because they will not be able to get heating fuels at any price.
    So that brings us to the elephant in the room. In my opinion, the dramatic rise in price is due to the serious disruption of the flow of fossil fuels from Russia,which Russia is using as a weapon of war.
    This serious disruption, in the free market capitalist system, has allowed commodities traders to arbitrarily raise the price and enrich themselves. In the process, oil companies around the world are reaping record profits. That 82 billion dollars of profit in a single quarter by just a few large oil companies is not chump change.

    So while it makes sense to me that a serious disruption of the worlds oil supplies could cause such an increase in the price, I cannot understand how the ADDITION of 281 mw of solar power flowing into new england’s electrical grid since this time last year could have caused a 300 % surge in the price of heating oil.
    Again, Phil, I am open to understanding that phenomenon.
    I know andy will not attempt to back up anything he says, so I am depending on you to lift the veil of ignorance from my eyes.
    Thank you.

  7. This is exactly what the solar wind crowd want is for energy prices to get so high that their loved fuel sources become attractive. The woke environmental groups have stopped the transmission of a gas pipeline coming from the western part of our state which would of given us abundant and cheaper fuel prices in northeast. The same woke environmentalist have stop transmission lines of Hydro power coming down from Canada which would help energy prices here in the Northeast. There are many factors going into the price of fuel but a fact is that woke Environmental groups have driven up the price of fuel production and transmission. The country has hundreds of years of supply of natural gas but the woke people do everything They can to prevent us from using it.

    • Bob– I’m impressed that you can use the word “woke” in 4 sentences in a row.

      As for the pipeline;
      The energy giant Kinder Morgan Inc. has pulled the plug on its controversial natural gas pipeline proposed through parts of Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire, after failing to sign up enough utility customers and facing stiff consumer and political opposition.
      Kinder Morgan said on Wednesday that its Northeast Energy Direct project didn’t receive the commitments from big customers that it needed to proceed with the $3.3 billion plan, which would involve building a 188-mile pipeline from a point west of Albany, N.Y., to Dracut.
      Let me ask you, Bob, if that pipeline ran through your town, or close to your child’s school, would you be so enthusiastic about it ?
      You know about that NIMBY stuff. It stops wind farms also.

      The transmission line going through Maine would only divert electricity currently going to mostly New York and Vermont. It does not increase the amount of power generated or put into the U.S grid. It just takes power from somewhere and puts it somewhere else.
      It would cost more than $10 m that ratepayers would be on the hook for.
      Let me ask you, Bob, if you lived in New Jersey and that transmission line ran by your remote summer camp in the Maine woods and through your favorite pristine trout stream, would you be so enthusiastic about it ?

      Nimby is also alive and well in Maine.


      Yup, I guess even those patriotic Maga Mainers who live up there sometimes get woke
      when it’s in their backyard and heading to your backyard.

  8. No one is blaming the construction of solar panels on the increase in gas prices. You are making an illogical juxtaposition. The claim from Democrats and Keller that domestic production is higher now than during the Trump administration is based on a comparison of four-year averages that includes the tremendous drop in economic activity at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Domestic oil production under Biden has yet to come close to the pre-pandemic levels reached under the prior administration. Demand has increased substantially after Covid due to more driving taking place all over the USA. Biden polices and statements on Coal on Climate Change, on oil leases and overall drilling predispositions affects the price of oil and gas. Yes Russia causes some of it but if Biden would open the pipelines on drilling and go full out we would have lower prices. Instead he depletes the Strategic Oil Reserve, shouts at OPEC, and begs Venezuela when he could solve the problem himself.

  9. andy – how are we supposed to take “inefficient wind and solar has caused this” ?
    Once again, you show your mastery of doublespeak, and take us for fools who can’t read what you say.
    I also am not taking averages– I said nothing about averages– read my post and look at my links. . Look at what I said, not what you wish I said. Please try not to lie about what I say.
    It’s right there, andy…
    And just for the record, the president of the Unites States does not dictate how much oil private companies produce. That is based on the invisible hand of the free market system.
    Socialism is “characterized by the dominance of social ownership of the means of production as opposed to private ownership”.
    Come on andy– do you really want socialism in this country? I don’t.
    I don’t want any president dicktating the amount of oil that an oil company can produce, and at what price they can sell it at.

  10. If you think companies do not adjust their strategies based upon the statements and policies of the President you are misguided.

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