Dukes County Commission Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, November 16, 2009
County Administration Building
Call to Order
Chairman Leonard Jason, Jr. called the County Commissioner’s meeting to order at 5:00p.m. Commissioners Tristan Israel, Leslie Leland, Melinda Loberg, Tom Hallahan and Carlene Gatting were present.
Also in attendance were County Manager Russell Smith, Executive Assistant Martina Thornton, County Treasurer Noreen Mavro-Flanders, Suzanne SlarskyDael and David McGlinchey from Vineyard Energy Project and Joanie Ames of MVTV.
Les/Melinda moved to approve the minutes of August 12, 2009. So Voted. All in favor.
Les/Melinda moved to approve the minutes of August 19, 2009. Discussion: Tom Hallahan requested to add his name as present. So Voted. All in favor.
Tristan/Carlene moved to approve the minutes of September 9, 2009. So Voted. In favor: Lenny, Tristan, Melinda, Tom, and Carlene. Abstained: Les Leland.
Vineyard Power - presentation by David McGlinchey
Vineyard Energy Project has been doing an education advocacy for about 6 years. In 2007 they were asked to carry out the energy section goals of the Island Plan. One specific goal was to create a reliable affordable renewable energy source. They developed Vineyard Power (VP) – 100% vineyard owned and controlled energy production cooperative. Reasons: Cost of electricity is projected to rise; we are using more oil then discovering; we import oil from other countries; climate change associated with use of fossil fuels. The island must import energy – uses about .75 millions of barrels of oil annually. Most of it is used for transportation. The island Plan laid out a plan to use over 75% of non-fossil fuels by 2050. In 2005 it was 7%. The Island pays about $103 million for energy annual, of which $20M stays on the island and
$83M goes off island. The Vineyard Power would produce energy on the island – creating jobs, lowering the island’s carbon footprint and most importantly lowering the energy price. The current electricity bill has two parts:
Transmission and delivery, where NSTAR has the state monopoly and Power provider, where the default company is Cape Light Compact if people don’t choose any other company. The members of the coop would select Vineyard Power as their provider.
Anyone who owns electric meter on the Island can be a member. The fee to join is $50 and it will increase each quarter by $50 to $965 by 2016. They project to be able to provide power for 7.5cents per kWh, compared to 12centsKWh from Cape Light Compact, as Vineyard Power would have no profit build into it.
The only two renewable energy productions that make sense is large scale solar or wind. In our location, wind is half the cost per kWh to build versus solar. The electricity production dramatically increases with height. If you go offshore the efficiency is even better. The island’s winter needs are about 17 turbines to produce 43MW total. Samsu Island in Denmark built 10 community owned offshore wind turbines. Samsu is a net energy producer. Community owned rural cooperative in Maine built 4.5MW turbines.
The Ocean Act foresees that there will be a wind development near Martha’s Vineyard. The position of the Vineyard Power is that any wind development in near waters should benefit the island. The only way to ensure the control over the development is to propose our own. The Vineyard Power is now recruiting members and would like to get 900 members. They would like to start working on the design in 2013 and 2016 commission 17 turbines.
Carlene – Would there be a benefit to do this jointly with the Cape Cod Electric Cooperative the County joined couple of months ago. David said that their members are towns and counties. VP model is different, they are proposing one island wide project, the Cape Cod El. Coop is proposing turbine here and there from the town initiative. VP does not have access to the bonds, but they do have access to the federal incentives and production tax credits as rural cooperative.
Tristan – Are you considering partnering with bigger developers that will be building in the federal waters? David said that the big development would be in the deeper waters. It is crucial that the cooperative members – the islanders, decide the sitting of these turbines. There is a possibility to work with developer, as it would lower the cost per unit dramatically. The developers would love to be associated with the community-based project but that would be decision of the coop members. Tristan asked what relationship did they consider with the towns and county? David said that the best model to deliver to the end payers was to create a private cooperative made out of ratepayers. Tom commented that the profits would go back to the cooperative. David said that any net revenue over operational and maintenance cost would go back
to lower the rate.
There will be no annual fee for each member (meter); just the one time fee to join the coop. Les asked what would be the savings for members? David said that the average use on the island is 7000 KWh annually per home and they would provide electricity at 7.5 cents per KWh, which would be savings of 4.5cents per KWh compared to current rate (1/3 of the price of the electricity). Melinda asked about the permitting process. David said that it would depend if the coop decides to go to state or federal waters. He said he thinks that the final decision about the large-scale developments would fall under the State Energy Facilities Sitting Board. Tristan said that Ian Bowles told them that the vineyard waters, including the Noman’s Land waters would be subject to review by the MV Commission. David said that the other permitting agencies
would be DPU, EPA and the state regulatory agencies. Tom asked about the voting power. David said there would be one member – one vote (no matter how much electricity each member uses)! There will be an annual meeting, more frequent Board of Directors meetings and elections for the Board of Directors. Melinda asked where does the electricity come on shore. David said most likely New Bedford or Falmouth. They will measure the popularity of the idea of community-based project early next year. They would like to have at least 75% support from the Island. They already have reached several hundreds people who would be interested. They started to take checks this week – made out to Vineyard Power, P.O Box 1077, West Tisbury, MA 02575. Tristan said some people would like to see the proposal with more details before they sign on to it. Lenny asked it the project would generate enough power for summer population. David said that if they produce enough power for the summer
population, they would need about 30-34 turbines and would have to sell the excess power to the grid in the winter. If the price of electricity goes down, it would put the coop in a bad position. The rate would be set for the year and it would be same for the year-round residence and summer residents. The coop would have to buy electricity in the summer, but they would produce enough excess electricity in the winter to even it out and at 17 turbines they would buy and sell about the same during the year and not be dependent on the situation on the market. If the coop would feel strongly about producing more electricity it can also go that way. One parcel in the federal waters would accommodate more then 17 turbines and leaves room to expand. It would make sense to partner with big developer to finance the studies needed before the lease is granted. Towns could be also members of the Vineyard Power, the membership and joining fee is per ratepayer (whomever the NSTAR bill goes to,
not per meter). The average projected savings per business is about $1200 per year.
Tom asked about the stimulus grant that Vineyard Energy Project received and if they are looking in the “I cube” – the Infrastructure Investment Incentive Program from the state. David said that they are working with GE that wanted to start their pilot project for their new appliances. The initial testing is for 50 houses. The smart grid infrastructure will allow the island to do other things in the future i.e. electrical vehicles.
Report on a Meeting with Secretary Ian Bowles – Lenny Jason
Ian Bowles announced that the Martha’s Vineyard Commission would have the final say about any project in Vineyard waters. Support for Town of Edgartown for their tidal project. He also said that if municipality would do a joined venture with the private developer they would have a favorable outlook on the project. Tristan added that they said that they heard the Vineyard and promised to work with us on the issues and his feeling is that the projects will be in federal waters. The chairs of the selectmen are invited to participate in the Task Force with Mineral Management Service and the State. Lenny, Russell and Tristan are going on November 19th to the first meeting. Lenny suggested sending thank-you letter to the Dept. of Interior for including us in the Task Force. Lenny said he lobbied to recognize Vineyard Sound as
prohibited area. Secretary Bowles clarified that there could be 10 turbines total, not several small projects.
Report on Vineyard Health Care Access Program’s 10th year celebration – Les Leland
The VHCAP hosted an Open House on Friday November 13th to mark 10 years of service. Les Leland, Tom Hallahan, Melinda Loberg and Martina Thornton attended. Les said couple of words on behalf of the County Commissioners and thanked Sarah Kuh for her good work.
State Ethics Commission Notification – Martina Thornton
The State Ethics Commission is notifying all elected officials of the new law and requirements regarding the conflict of interest law. Martina e-mailed it to all the Commissioners. They need to reply to the State Ethics Commission that they received it by December 28th and complete an on-line training and send the Completion certificate to the Commission as well by April 2nd.
CPA applications were submitted to all island towns to replace the courthouse windows in the middle sections of the Courthouse. We are only replacing sashes, not the jambs. The cost of the project is $51,000, which was divided between the towns. We already met with some CPA committees and have a positive feedback.
County was asked by the towns to manage the animal shelter for 6 months. We received letters from most of the towns that they will support the county financially if needed. In the first 6 months over 40 animals came in, were brought up to date on their medical needs and were adopted out (1/4 dogs, ¾ cats). We encourage everyone to go to see the shelter. The committee worked hard on the fundraising and we received about $88K in donations. We did not need to ask the towns for any funds. The County put in the effort of administration and overseeing the operation. Russell would recommend stay the course for another 6 months under the County. In the meantime the ownership of the building and other issues would be worked out.
Carlene/Melinda moved to continue County oversight of the animal shelter for another 6 months. Discussion: Les suggested that Russell ask the towns for support again. Russell said that he plans on it at the All-island Selectmen’s meeting tomorrow and that if the financial support is needed we will know it ahead of time. Tristan said that a logistical problem could be if we don’t know it by the end of the year, the request could not be put before the town meeting. Russell said it would be about $4-5K per town and he does not want to go to towns asking for money if he does not need it. He would like to get the support of the selectman in case it is needed. Tristan suggested preparing an article to go to towns in case it is needed and pull it if it is not needed. Martina suggested preparing article that would give the Finance
Committees in each town preview over the decision if the County asks for money to give it from the reserve fund. Tristan said that the Finance Committees don’t like to see those types of articles and Russell should have conversation in each town how to handle this situation. Lenny asked what would we do if the towns will not support us. Russell said we do have enough money to go for the next 6 months and if we don’t have support of the towns we will get out of it and the shelter can run as private organization. Melinda said that the animal shelter board is planning Christmas in Edgartown pet parade, pictures taken with Santa and several other fundraising events next summer. The next 6 months would be time to figure out the long-term strategy, the ownership of the house etc. Tristan suggested sending a letter from the Commissioners to the Animal Shelter Board members applauding them for their work. End of discussion. So voted. All in favor.
Heating system was not working. Boiler plates separated and Jack Law from R.M. Packer Co. got the boiler plates donated to us. It is fixed and it will cost us $5600 instead of $15K. Russell sent thank-you letter to the R.M. Packer Co. already.
Machine will come tomorrow to re-grade the parking lot and repair the differential settlement after the summer.
Russell testified in favor of House Bill 993 regarding changes in the section of the County Manager’s form of county government as recommended by the Charter Study Commission. Today the bill left the committee with recommendation to pass. Noreen went today to testify on House Bill 4105 regarding the OPEB pool trust, which would be a vehicle to allow several municipalities to create a pool trust. There would still have to be vote by the general public to join and another one to fund it. Tristan asked how it would work? Noreen said that each town could contribute whatever they want. If they join the contributions would have a better chance for investment and return, which would be proportionate to their contributions. The professional managers would like minimum of $5 million. Once the bill is passed, there would be a trust document send
to all community entities that could participate. The board might prepare an article to all towns that would be pulled if the bill were not passed by the time of town meeting. There was also a bill filed to extend the funding for the retirement system from 2030 to 2040. There is no deadline to fund OPEB.
Next meeting would be Monday November 23, if needed.
Tom/Carlene - adjourned the meeting at 6.30 p.m.
Respectfully Submitted by:
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts