The Island Institute and the Islanded Grid Resource Center recently hosted the third annual New England Island Energy Exchange, a trip which brought island energy leaders from Maine to learn from a series of exciting and well-established energy initiatives on the non-islanded grids of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Massachusetts. The goals of the trip were to:
- Advance understanding of renewable energy siting, development, and integration, including solar PV, wind, and offshore wind;
- Explore approaches to comprehensive energy planning; and
- Learn about energy efficiency initiatives, particularly at the residential, business, and municipal levels and including non-transmission alternative projects.
Participants included islanded grid power system operators from the Monhegan Plantation Power District and the Matinicus Plantation Matinicus Electric Power Company as well as the system operator for the Isle au Haut Electric Company, a small community-owned utility that is considering whether to replace its aging submarine transmission cable or build a diesel-solar-storage hybrid microgrid and become an islanded grid.
On the first leg of the trip, the delegation from the Maine islands met with representatives from the Nantucket Energy Office to discuss local energy initiatives including the “Non-Wires Alternative” project that is seeking to avoid transmission upgrades through energy efficiency as well as the complex local discussions about offshore wind development around the island. The group also visited the 100 kW wind turbine at the Nantucket High School. From there, the group traveled to Martha’s Vineyard where it met with representatives of the Vineyard Power Cooperative, a locally-owned cooperative that is developing local energy projects including offshore wind and solar, as well as the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, a county-level planning organization which has led energy planning initiatives on the island.