MVC lands federal climate grant 

The commission will use the funding to create a diversified energy resilience portfolio in case of emergencies.

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The Martha's Vineyard Commission received a grant that will help Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Tisbury keep the public water supply running during a prolonged power outage. —MV Times

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission has been awarded a technical assistance grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to help down-Island towns provide water to the public during prolonged power outages.

The grant is through the Energy Department’s Energy Transition Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP), and is meant to help the Island become more resilient in the face of stronger storms with a changing climate, according to a press release from the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC). 

The grant will aid the Island in creating “a diversified energy resilience portfolio,” says Kate Warner, energy planner at the commission. In particular, Warner says, the grant will provide key backup power for the Island’s public well pumps during power outages, with a focus on water departments in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Tisbury.

This is the second grant awarded through the ETIPP for the Vineyard. The first, which went to Aquinnah and Chilmark in 2022, focused on developing microgrids to provide power for critical services. The work conducted by the grant will inform similar projects being developed in other Island towns. 

“We are looking for a toolkit of ideas, to serve the various water departments, buildings, tanks, and remote well sites in the down-Island towns specifically. The challenge is how to get power to those remote sites without the use of batteries on the ground,” Warner said. Though it may seem like an easy solution, battery leakage can contaminate the public water source, which would be “extremely undesirable,” said Warner. That’s where the other sustainable power sources come into play.

One option, she said, could be connecting electric buses to the water pumps. Electric buses can generate electricity for use.

People may feel secure relying on generators, but Warner says they may not always be a save-all. “If we have a really big storm event, there won’t be enough fuel to cover everyone’s generator,” said Warner. 

In the event of a prolonged power failure, Warner anticipates that the towns would not only need to keep their town supply running, but they might need to provide it to other people as well. 

“None of us know what’s coming with climate change, so the more strategies we have, the better,” says Warner. She says the best portfolio of resilient strategies is a diversified portfolio, which might look like a combination of generator, solar, and battery power. 

“With climate change, there are just so many unknowns,” she said. “I hardly want to be like Chicken Little, but I do want the Island to be prepared.” 

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