BARNSTABLE – The county’s legislative board is again pushing for more transparency at the Cape Light Compact.
The dozen Assembly of Delegates members attending the panel’s regular meeting Wednesday voted unanimously to ask county Treasurer Mark Zielinski to provide a series of financial documents from the Compact.
“In today’s day and age as we know, most of this information is readily available,” said Sandwich’s delegate James Killion, who made a motion to request the documents on behalf of James Rogers, a constituent and vocal critic of the Compact and the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative.
Rogers and others – primarily opponents of wind energy projects around the Cape – have argued that the two regional energy agencies have failed to respond to repeated requests for public records.
They also contend that the Compact has inappropriately shifted money to the cooperative, which was formed by the county and towns in 2007 to pursue renewable energy projects on the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard.
The Compact was formed in 1997 to buy power in bulk for municipalities and other customers on the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard as well as to run energy-efficiency programs for the region.
The documents requested include accounting reports for the Compact’s power supply reserve fund, operating fund, energy efficiency reserve fund and energy fund.
“I don’t think the request the public is making on these documents is unrealistic,” Killion said.
Although the Compact and cooperative are governed by separate boards of directors, the two agencies share personnel with the county, including Maggie Downey, who is the Compact’s administrator, the cooperative’s clerk and the county’s assistant administrator. Zielinski is the county administrator, county treasurer and the cooperative’s treasurer.
Zielinski did not return an email and telephone message left at his office Thursday seeking comment for this story.
The request for documents should be made to Zielinski in his role as county treasurer because of the assembly’s clear oversight of that office, Falmouth delegate Julia Taylor said during Wednesday’s meeting.
“I have a worry that these are not in fact county agencies and therefore we aren’t in charge of them,” she said about the cooperative and Compact. “This is the problem with the whole thing.”
The role of the county in overseeing the Compact has been part of an ongoing debate that includes the work of a special committee convened by the assembly that blasted the Compact and cooperative in a report released last year for a lack of transparency.
The county’s executive arm – the three-member board of county commissioners – votes on contracts and other financial actions for the Compact and the county clearly has oversight of those actions, said Harwich delegate Leo Cakounes who was a member of the special committee.
Cakounes listed off about $10 million in contracts in the Compact’s name that county commissioners voted on over just the past three weeks.
“I stand here as a member of the legislative body of the county and tell you that if our executive body is signing documents for that kind of money we are well within our rights to ask for an accounting of it,” he said.
Orleans delegate Christopher Kanaga amended Killion’s motion to ask that the documents be provided within seven days.
The 12 members of the assembly present at the meeting voted unanimously to approve the request, which will be made through the assembly’s speaker, Ronald Bergstrom of Chatham.
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