Maine islanders visit Massachusetts islands to talk renewable energy

Mar 22, 2014
Visiting Cuttyhunk are, front row from left, Clayton Philbrook, Ace Lombard, Chris Smith, Seth Garfield, Suzanne MacDonald, Rich Miskiv, Paula Dimare, Seymour Dimare; and back, Paul Elias, Heather Deese, Wayne Perrier.

Rockland — Representatives from two Maine island communities recently took to the road and the water to visit colleagues on Cuttyhunk and Naushon islands off the coast of Massachusetts.

Hosted by the Island Institute, this information exchange was part of an ongoing discussion among residents of New England’s diesel-powered islands around their common energy challenges as well as shared opportunities for solutions.

Participants included representatives from the Monhegan Plantation Power District, the Matinicus Plantation Electric Company, Cuttyhunk Electric Light and Power, the Naushon Trust and two Island Institute staff members.

These island communities pay the highest electricity rates in the region, and their rates are also among the highest in the nation — up to 70 cents per kilowatt hour. The Massachusetts trip was only the most recent knowledge-sharing activity that the group has participated in over the past four years, and focused again on the group’s plans to reduce their dependence on diesel fuel, primarily through efficiency measures and the deployment of renewable energy hybrid projects and storage. Other topics of discussion included briefings on island involvement in the region’s proposed offshore wind projects and related ocean planning efforts.

The island residents on this recent trip are all members of a diesel-island working group established by the Island Institute to facilitate information-sharing across islands and to help islands access resources for projects designed to lower the cost of electricity. Members meet annually at the Island Energy Conference and connect throughout the year via webinar and phone conferences.

Recent funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to the Island Institute will enable several additional exchanges over the next three years, as well as connect these islanders to others facing similar challenges throughout the nation.

For information about the diesel-island working group or other aspects of the Island Institute’s work in the area of community energy and energy efficiency, please contact Suzanne MacDonald, Energy Director, at smacdonald@islandinstitute.org or 594-9209 ext. 144.

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