Island Cooperative Sees Sun And Wind as Powerful Future

With 1,300 members and the Island’s first municipal solar array a reality as of this week, Vineyard Power, the Island energy cooperative that was little more than an idea three years ago, is now a viable enterprise.

But with 8,000 members needed to make the next big project a reality — a $200 million offshore wind farm in a state-approved area south of the Vineyard — the fledgling community cooperative still has a good distance to travel to meet its goals.

Vineyard Power Sees Strength in Numbers

In Vineyard Power’s humble headquarters just past the Grange Hall on State Road in West Tisbury hangs a dry erase board with a breakdown of the Island’s energy meters. One number stands alone in bold: 824. It’s the most important number to the fledgling energy cooperative, the number of members who have signed up so far.

“If those 824 members all get one person to join, we’d be up to 1,600,” said Vineyard Power director Richard Andre, eyeing the board. Credibility, both in the community and among investors, depends on membership.

Vision of True Vineyard Energy Independence

A sparsely furnished three-room building in West Tisbury marks the unassuming home of Vineyard Power. The organization has two full-time employees: Richard Andre and his assistant, Kerry Downing. All in all it’s a humble arrangement. There is nothing modest, however, about the organization’s ambition. Vineyard Power, the Island’s first energy cooperative, plans to raise and manage nearly $200 million in federal and private investments in wind power and make the Island energy independent within five years.

Vineyard Power Cooperative Members Debate Management

As the nearly 800 members of Vineyard Power — the Island’s nascent energy cooperative — vote on their future, at least 12.5 per cent of them need to actually show up in person to legally do so as a quorum. Members who attended Wednesday night’s meeting to vote on rather mundane bylaw changes were disappointed to find that there were not enough in attendance to do so.

One audience member blamed the poor attendance on the lack of urgency in the cooperative’s electronic bulletin.

Vineyard Power Cooperative Plugs Into Big Energy Picture

As the prevailing summer winds begin to blow, bringing with them an influx of seasonal residents, Vineyard Power, the Island’s nascent energy cooperative, begins its first seasonal membership campaign, flooding local airwaves with advertisements and fanning out across the Island in a series of informal public presentations and question-and-answer sessions. One such presentation was held last Thursday at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury.

Vineyard Power Gets Fired Up

Catherine the Great once said: “A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache.” Islanders have experienced their share of both over the past decade, as visions of energy independence have been tempered by talk of viewsheds, environmental impacts and the preservation of cultural heritage.

Aquinnah Voters Back Solar Plan, Vineyard Power’s First Project

After nearly two hours of passionate and sometimes contentious debate, Aquinnah voters agreed to back a plan to install 200 solar panels at the town landfill at a special town meeting Wednesday night.

Vineyard Power Wins Its First Contract

The town of Aquinnah awarded a bid to Vineyard Power this week to build a solar array at the town landfill, marking the first major project for the Island energy cooperative.

Pending approval from town counsel, the selectmen signed a preliminary agreement at their meeting Tuesday to place about 200 panels at the town landfill. The 50-kilowatt system will produce up to 60,000 kilowatt hours a year, which is equivalent to about 10 to 12 houses. The panels will produce enough electricity to power the town buildings.

Cronig’s Plans a Power Play With Solar Panels in Parking Lot

Summer shoppers seeking shade may be able to do so this summer while powering up. Vineyard Power hopes to install a 12,200 square foot array of solar panels over the Vineyard Haven Cronig’s parking lot. The array, which will supply a quarter of the store’s energy needs, is made up of three “solar canopies,” which will also feature six electric car charging stations.

Aquinnah, Power Co-op Contract Nears

Aquinnah selectmen this week inched closer to a final contract with Vineyard Power to install a solar array at the landfill, but pressed for clearer contingency plans from the community energy cooperative in the event of a problem.

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