Opponents of wind energy projects on the Cape and other members of the public asked the assembly to act on the report's recommendations, which include a so-called forensic audit of the compact and the forwarding of other issues related to the handling of the Open Meeting Law and public records by the two agencies to the state inspector general or attorney general for review. Supporters of the Compact and cooperative argued that the two organizations have benefited residents of the Cape and Vineyard and tried to head off any ideas that they should be eliminated.
BARNSTABLE – County legislators are calling for a separate audit of the Cape Light Compact in an attempt to allay concerns about how the organization handles its finances.
The Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates voted in favor of the move during its regular meeting Wednesday inside the Barnstable District Courthouse after hearing from the public on a report critical of how the Compact and the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative are governed.
The assembly also voted to send the report back to the special committee that produced it so it could address responses to the document from the public and the two regional energy agencies.
The Compact was created by the county in 1997 to buy power in bulk and provide energy efficiency programs for customers on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. The cooperative was originally formed by the Compact, the county and the town of Barnstable in 2007 to pursue renewable energy projects in the region.
The report was released last month by a five-member special committee charged by the assembly with looking into public complaints about transparency, finances and governance within the agencies. Officials with the Compact and the cooperative have called the report’s findings inaccurate and incendiary.
Opponents of wind energy projects on the Cape and other members of the public asked the assembly to act on the report’s recommendations, which include a so-called forensic audit of the compact and the forwarding of other issues related to the handling of the Open Meeting Law and public records by the two agencies to the state inspector general or attorney general for review.
Supporters of the Compact and cooperative argued that the two organizations have benefited residents of the Cape and Vineyard and tried to head off any ideas that they should be eliminated.
“To me it is so important to maintain the services that are provided,” said Austin Knight, chairman of the Provincetown Board of Selectmen.
Fred Fenlon, who serves as Eastham’s representative on the Compact, asked the assembly if he should retain an attorney to protect himself in light of the special committee’s recommendations. Fenlon also asked whether the county would pay for his legal representation and whether Compact staff should consider similar steps.
Several speakers critical of the Compact’s and cooperative’s activities argued that they did not believe that staff at the agencies had purposefully done anything illegal.
“No one here is accusing anyone of intentional acts of deceit and criminality, not at all,” said Barbara Howard of Harwich.
The public, however, deserved better access to information about the two organizations, which receive money from ratepayers and taxpayers, she said.
“I’m not always happy with my governments, whether they’re national, state or local,” Joseph Swaluk of Brewster said. “Every once in a while I read about something that makes me feel kind of good. This report is one of them.”
After more than an hour of public testimony from both sides, Falmouth delegate Julia Taylor made a motion that the Compact be audited separately from the county’s general audit in lieu of a suggested forensic audit that would cover the agency since its creation.
Delegate Leo Cakounes of Harwich, who served on the special committee, argued that such an audit should not replace the more comprehensive financial review proposed in the report.
Taylor’s measure passed with almost 75 percent of the assembly’s vote, which is weighted by the population of each representative’s town.
A motion by Cakounes to send the report back to the special committee so that it could respond to input from the public, compact and cooperative passed with all 14 delegates present voting in favor of it.
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