BARNSTABLE – Members of a county panel looking into the activities of two regional energy agencies may call for a financial audit and review by the state inspector general if they don’t get the information they’re asking for.
During a meeting Wednesday, the five-member subcommittee of the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates laid out concerns it has with the relationship between the Cape Light Compact and the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative, or CVEC.
“The minutes and the way these organizations are run is extremely concerning to me,” said assembly member Leo Cakounes of Harwich.
The subcommittee was formed to address questions about the two agencies raised by opponents of wind energy projects in several Cape towns. Critics question the transfer of money from the compact to CVEC, particularly a $520,000 grant originally from ConEdison Solutions, the private energy company contracted to sell power to the compact and that won another contract to work with CVEC on a large solar-energy project.
CVEC was formed in 2007 to pursue renewable energy projects for its 14 member towns, the compact and Barnstable and Dukes counties. The bulk of its initial funding came in the form of more than $2 million passed on by the compact.
The compact, which was formed in 1997 to buy power in bulk and provide energy-efficiency programs for residents on the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard, is supposed to have regular financial audits, something that does not appear to have been done, subcommittee member Deborah McCutcheon of Truro said.
The state regularly reviews the agency’s energy-efficiency plans and rates, according to compact officials.
Cakounes and McCutcheon raised questions about the lack of meeting minutes from executive committees for both energy agencies.
The state attorney general’s office is already looking into the issue, McCutcheon said.
Although panel members were careful not to accuse either of the agencies of wrongdoing, they questioned the amount of oversight in place.
“It’s not an insult,” the subcommittee’s chairman, Ronald Bergstrom of Chatham, said about the proposal that an audit be done. “It’s just something that’s done on a regular basis.”
McCutcheon questioned the appropriateness of the two agencies sharing an attorney.
“To have an attorney who approved the transfer of money from one party to another write an opinion about the appropriateness I think is a conflict on its face,” she said.
The panel discussed a list of possible recommendations, including a full financial audit of the compact, changes in the way that meetings and decisions are documented and a review – potentially by the office of the state’s inspector general – of the overlapping governance and staff among the county, compact and CVEC.
A draft report on its recommendations and remaining questions will be presented to the compact and CVEC for any further response before being submitted to the full Assembly of Delegates.
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