On Renewable Energy And Nantucket

Maureen Searle •

To the editor: When I lived in the house on Angola Street, I would steel myself for electricity bills of over $1,000 a month during the winter. You might think that I would be comfortable in a house that had such a high energy bill, but the truth was that the house was uncomfortably cold. I also had to be careful that exposed pipes did not freeze. I bring this up in the context of the debate about the offshore wind farm. I cannot help but think that the real issue for the opposition is the view, that multi-billion-dollar view that Nantucket is blessed with. But the energy needs of an island growing as fast as Nantucket have to be of concern.

I am no energy expert but I would love to see the statistics for how much energy savings there might be with an offshore wind farm. The Select Board — perhaps for good reason — decided not to pursue a solar installation off Milestone. Again, what additional and renewable energy would this mean for Nantucket? Would this help to lower energy bills for cash-strapped residents?

I have been an advocate for preserving the historical character in the neighborhoods, but I can also see how certain technology changes have to be accommodated if the island is going to retain its workforce. As new building grows bigger and fancier — the Veranda, for example — the energy requirements must follow suit. For some time, there has been consideration of a third undersea cable for the island. This no doubt would raise the energy bill for everyone. At the very least, the town can build with energy requirements in mind. Were they of utmost concern when the Public Safety Building and fire station were built or are these buildings costing the town a great deal in energy outlays?

As the town considers a new Our Island Home and senior center, it should include, in the planning, energy-efficient heating, cooling and lighting systems. There should be solar panels to provide cheaper, renewable energy.

As someone who walked every day, even during the very cold winter months, I would notice how windy it usually was during the winter. It certainly added to the perception of how cold it was. As I write this, on March 8th, the wind is blowing at a steady rate of 24 mph, with gusts up to 31 mph. This is wind that could be converted into energy. The island is also blessed with abundant sunlight. If it chooses to ignore these obvious sources of energy, then it may become a place where only the rich can afford to live.

Maureen Searle

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