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Barnstable delegates to vote again on energy probe  

Credit:  By Patrick Cassidy, Cape Cod Times, www.capecodonline.com 21 July 2011 ~~

BARNSTABLE – The Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates’ vote two weeks ago to seek information from two regional energy agencies is invalid because the measure was not approved by the necessary majority, the county attorney said Wednesday.

But the 15-member legislative board expects to vote again on the issue at a future meeting.

The assembly voted two weeks ago to appoint a panel to investigate concerns about the activities of the Cape Light Compact and the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative. At that meeting, the majority of delegates present voted in favor of launching the probe. But County Attorney Robert Troy told the assembly on Wednesday that the vote fell short because the legislative board casts weighted ballots based on the population of each of the Cape’s 15 towns. For example, the Yarmouth delegate’s vote counts for 11.02 percent of the voting percentage, while Wellfleet counts for 1.27 percent.

In the case of the energy agency investigation vote, Troy said, passage required at least eight delegates in attendance with at least 51 percent of the weighted vote cast in favor of the probe. On July 6, only 29.53 percent of the weighted vote was cast in favor of the investigation, with 42.81 percent absent or abstaining.

The July 6 vote marked the assembly’s first concrete action in response to months of pressure from opponents of local wind energy projects seeking information on the two energy agencies. Following the vote, some members of the assembly questioned whether the vote was legal and whether the legislative board has the power to conduct such an inquiry.

At Wednesday’s meeting, several delegates said they don’t have authority over either energy agency. Instead, the delegates said they want to ask questions about how the agengies operate.

“We have the right to inquire,” Harwich delegate Leo Cakounes said.

The Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative was formed in 2007 to pursue renewable energy projects for its members, which include a dozen local towns, and it has received more than $2 million from the Cape Light Compact to keep it afloat. The regional energy agencies also serve the county, prompting questions from critics about conflicts of interest.

While the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative is moving forward with an 18-megawatt solar energy project in about a half-dozen towns on the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard, the agency has struggled to successfully complete a wind energy project, focusing its efforts most recently on a two-turbine Brewster project.

The Cape Light Compact was created in 1997 to buy energy in bulk for residents on the Cape and the Vineyard as well as to provide energy efficiency programs.

Source:  By Patrick Cassidy, Cape Cod Times, www.capecodonline.com 21 July 2011

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