Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
The following letter was sent to John Checklick, president of the Cape and Vineyard Electrical Cooperative (CVEC).
Recent developments regarding Cape Light Compact’s (CLC) aggregation plan, specifically the Department of Public Utility’s August 27 letter to CLC requiring it to file a new plan, raise important questions for CVEC members, especially those who have signed up for phase one or phase two photovoltaic projects. I would appreciate a prompt response to the concerns I outline below.
Since CLC has since CVEC’s inception in 2007 provided essentially all of CVEC’s operating funds by way of outright grants, with no expectation that these funds will ever be repaid by CVEC, the possibility of this funding stream coming to an end, which is currently scheduled for 2015, is very disturbing. How will CVEC fund itself when the grants from CLC end either in 2015 or whenever?
Thus far the member towns and counties have been asked to contribute virtually nothing to CVEC’s operation. Will CVEC ask the member towns and counties to provide funding? CVEC seems to require at least $500,000 annually, therefore the potential burden to town budgets is considerable. Those of us responsible for town budgets would like to know how likely such additional costs are, as well as their magnitude to individual towns and counties.
Of immediate concern to towns in the phase one and two solar program is the matter of transferring net metering credits from the town to CVEC. We were told by our CVEC representative, Jen Rand, that such transfers were necessary to move the projects toward construction. The West Tisbury selectmen voted to do so. However, the DPU has not approved these transfers for any of the towns in the program, nor do we know how long DPU will take to make its decisions. Consequently, construction cannot begin. Ms. Argo, your consultant, tells us that the projects must be completed and online by June 30, 2014. Given the delay, what happens if a project cannot meet that deadline?
One last issue: There have been objections by individuals, organizations, and the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates to CLC’s ongoing funding grants to CVEC, and calls for the two organizations to be independent of each other. In the event that CVEC loses its current operational funding, cannot secure new sources, and has to cease operating, what happens to the transferred net metering credits? Who will own them? Do the entities with “step-in rights” assume ownership? If so, what guarantees do towns with PV projects have that the net metering benefits will continue to accrue to them?
I would like to provide my board with answers to these concerns, and look forward to your response. Thank you in advance.
Richard R. Knabel
The writer is chairman of the West Tisbury selectmen.