The actions in this focus area highlight the process by which our energy supply will become more reliant on renewable electric sources (solar, wind, waterpower) and less on fossil fuels. Actions also focus on building resilience of our energy supply.
Progress Toward Our Goals
Many actions are underway in this thematic area from various partners but here are some highlights.
- The MVC Energy Planner continues to work with Eversource on grid modernization and resilience with support from the Town Energy Committees, County, and Vineyard Power. In addition, she continues discussions with Steamship staff about transitioning their fleet. This fall, work began on an Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Program (ETIPP) grant that will provide strategies to the down-island water departments on how to increase their resilience and ability to provide water during prolonged power failures. In addition she has been preparing materials to support the town Energy Committees' proposing the State Specialized Building Code for adoption at their town meetings. Aquinnah has already adopted it.
- Vineyard Power and the Cape Light Compact (CLC) launched an initiative in September whereby Vineyard Power pledged to donate up to $200,000 a year for the CLC to distribute among CLC income eligible ratepayers on the Vineyard. This donation will deliver savings totaling between $300-400 every year to these rate payers.
- Vineyard Power conducted over 60 outreach events and launched an Energy Coach program that offers Vineyard residents easy to schedule, no-cost, 30-minute sessions with one of their coaches on solar, EVs, and/or buildings. To date, they have recorded approximately 30 coaching sessions. Roughly 20% of those are building coach sessions. Roughly 20% of them are EV coach meetings. Thus far, about 60% of them have been related to solar.
- For more updates, take a look at our 2023 Progress Report!
Energy and Climate Change
Opportunities to Reduce Emissions
A lot of everyday activities use energy. On the Island, almost half of our energy use is for transportation. The remainder of the energy we use is for heating and powering our homes and businesses.
Energy use in these sectors is almost equal to the share of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) they produce, meaning if we cut down on energy use and transition to clean energy sources, we will also be reducing our emissions.
In addition to decreasing the amount of energy we use, we also need to make sure our energy is fossil fuel free. Many of our community members are already taking steps to transition their building systems to electric. There are 6,000-7,000 air source heat pump heating systems and 2,000-3,000 heat pump hot water systems on the Island already!
Pairing electric systems with a clean grid is essential. As we develop a cleaner energy grid (we already get 30% of our energy from renewable sources), our homes and businesses will be powered with a decreasing amount of fossil fuels.
Did you know? Nearly 8% of electricity used in homes comes from on-Island solar generation! As more homes and businesses invest in solar, our energy grid will be more renewable - and more resilient.
Installing solar is currently not feasible for everyone, however. We need to make sure that all community members, including renters and low-income residents, have access to clean, affordable energy.
Massachusetts has a goal to deploy 5,600 MW of local offshore wind over the next decade. These turbines will produce enough clean energy to power 3 million homes - over 40% of the state’s energy demand. Offshore wind development will benefit Martha’s Vineyard by providing:
- Over $15,000,000 in infrastructure investments, including a resilient port in Vineyard Haven’s working waterfront
- 50 year-round jobs at an offshore wind operations center generating $75,000,000 in economic development over 15 years
- $25,000,000 in funding to facilitate the transition to a more resilient and equitable 100% renewable community
Equity and the Energy Transformation
Ensuring Clean, Affordable Energy for Everyone
The up-front cost of transitioning to more efficient technologies and renewable energy sources can be a barrier to many low to medium income homes. Additionally, many Islanders rent homes or are housing-insecure and not able to make choices to transition. These barriers create inequities in the ability to receive the long-term cost-saving benefits of new technologies.
We will aim to ensure all people have access to these benefits through a variety of programs. Some of these actions are focused on improving communications and participation in Cape Light Compact programs for low to moderate income families. Other actions will take advantage of funds derived through Vineyard Wind’s Community Benefits Agreement that provides money specifically to reduce electricity costs of low-income families.
Thematic Working Group Members
Liasion: Vineyard Power (Erik Peckar)