Cape Light Compact, the longtime energy service provider for the Cape and Vineyard, may soon enter a new phase, with Barnstable County no longer serving as administrative and fiscal agent and member towns freed from liability.

The 21 member towns, including every town on the Island, have begun considering whether to take part in a joint powers agreement (JPA) to replace an existing intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that started the compact 20 years ago.

An act of state legislature last year paved the way for any two towns and various other public bodies to form a joint powers entity (JPE) that would operate as its own public entity and in this case carry on the work of the Cape Light Compact, including its core energy aggregation and efficiency programs.

The idea to form a joint powers entity for the compact emerged last year, when Barnstable County announced that it no longer wanted to serve as administrative and fiscal agent — an arrangement that resulted from the original intergovermental agreement, which left the compact without the legal authority to provide certain services.

A joint powers agreement drafted by BCK Law of Waltham on behalf of the compact was recently vetted by attorney Ronald Rappaport, who serves as legal counsel to five Island towns, and by Kopelman and Paige, which serves as counsel for Tisbury and eight towns on the Cape. “We both believe that the draft JPA is an improvement over the IGA,” Mr. Rappaport said in a memo dated Jan. 30. Among other things, he noted the statutory authority to protect member towns from liability.

Unlike the existing agreement, a joint powers entity could, among other things, sue and be sued, sign contracts and borrow money. The entity would be governed by a board of directors, with representatives from each member town, similar to the current arrangement.

The intergovernmental agreement is set to expire in 2022, but a joint powers agreement could replace it sooner. Barnstable County has already signed a termination and transition agreement to end its services by June 30.

Any member town may join the entity with a vote of its selectmen. The Provincetown selectmen voted to join on Tuesday, with Dennis expected to vote on Feb. 28. Cape Light Compact administrator Maggie Downey told the Gazette this week that the goal was for every member town to make a decision by March 2018. “From a staff perspective, I think the sooner it’s done the cleaner it is,” she said.

Towns that do not join must petition the state Department of Public Utilities to approve their own aggregation and energy efficiency plans, or default to Eversource Energy’s basic service power supply and energy efficiency programs.

Ms. Downey plans to visit the Island in March to discuss the transition with town officials.