September Infrastructure: Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative

In an emergency, can we keep power on when the grid goes down?

Liz Argo of Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative  visited September’s Infrastructure Meeting, to catch us up on what they are doing, and how their projects may tie in with the Technology Council.

CVEC works with the municipalities of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard to integrate clean, renewable energy. They work with Cape Light Compact to advance a more sustainable Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard.

You may have seen CVEC’s projects on capped landfills in several towns, where they’ve finished construction on 28 megawatts of photovoltaics. With scale on their side, CVEC was able to negotiate for the group. Once NSTAR interconnects them, they will begin operation – hopefully by October.

CVEC is developing under the state incentives for net metering credits. Generating power lowers the municipality’s electric bills, and generates income for the town. There is a fee that goes out to the developer, but the rest of it goes to the municipalities.

According to the Department of Energy Resources’ website:
“Community Clean Energy Resiliency Initiative” is part of the Patrick Administration’s comprehensive climate change preparedness effort. The grant program is focused on municipal resilience: protecting communities from interruptions in energy services due to severe climate events enhanced by the effects of climate change.
The initiative is funded by $40 million in Alternative Compliance Payments (ACP), which are paid by electric retail suppliers if they have insufficient Renewable or Alternative Energy Certificates to meet their compliance obligations under the Renewable and Alternative Portfolio Standard programs. Funding is to be allocated appropriately and competitively across the Commonwealth.

CVEC sought out facilities that fit the Community Clean Energy Resiliency Initiative grant,
installing a roof mount at Dennis Yarmouth High School (an emergency shelter) as a test case. The system can be islanded during an emergency, so if the grid goes down, the energy they produce is used on site instead of fed back to the grid.

There’s also a program at Dennis Yarmouth High School that works with photovoltaics, in conjunction with Cape Cod Community College.

The challenge has been designing a direct feed to the grid ahead of the meter, with the ability to island it. Most solar installations are behind the meter, which prevents NSTAR from sending electricity while a facility is using solar. The landfill sites are ahead of the meter, because all the power is farmed out to different facilities.

Liz said this is the first grant where the idea of energy resiliency has an opportunity to work with Smart Grid. If they find the system at DY is working, they would do it for all six of the Cape’s emergency shelters.

CVEC is guided by a board of directors. Each town has a member on the board (towns can join the collaborative for $25), as does Cape Light Compact. For more information on CVEC, go to

The other item on September’s agenda was the Cape Cod Commission’s draft Section 208 Water Quality Plan. The executive summary and the full draft are on the Cape Cod Commission’s website.
Executive Summary  & Updated Full Draft
Among other things:
· The Commission is not proposing an MWRA (Massachusetts Water Resources Authority).
· Instead of focusing on towns, they are focusing on watersheds, which means the towns will have to work together.
· There is an emphasis on innovative technologies.

A series of subregional public hearings will take place in September and October from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.:

* Sept. 10: Outer Cape, Wellfleet Preservation Hall
* Sept. 24 : Lower Cape, Chatham Community Center
* Oct. 7: Mid Cape, Innovation Room, Cape Cod Commission
* Oct. 21: Upper Cape, Mashpee Town Hall

An additional stakeholder engagement session is planned from 2 to 4 p.m. in each subregion for the date listed above. If you are deaf or hard of hearing or are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation, contact the Cape Cod Commission at (508)362-3828 or TTY (508)362-5885.

The Infrastructure Committee proposes we review the plan (which will take some time), and attend the hearings to gather more information. There’s an educational aspect to our role in the Water Quality Plan. The Tech Council may also be able to act as a translator.

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