Homegrown Energy

My goal is to make the Cape and Islands self sufficient within 15 years. Using solar, wind, and hydropower, improving conservation efforts, we can become a national model and leader by producing the energy we need. We can conserve power while creating jobs and reducing dependence on foreign oil, all at the same time. This is not pie in the sky. Here’s proof this is possible: At Cape Air, we are now installing the largest solar panel array in Southeastern Massachusetts on the roof of our headquarters in Barnstable. It will provide all the electricity used in that facility, while creating good construction and manufacturing jobs, a Green Initiative with economic payback. The solar array replaces electricity now supplied by fossil fuel generating plants. Coupled with other new ways of conserving energy, this also opens up opportunities for local entrepreneurs to design, build and install the new technology. This approach is the result of a strong partnership between the public and private sectors. This is the model for how we will reach energy independence.

There has never been a more dramatic moment to consider what we can do to move away from our reliance on energy derived from oil and coal.We are witnessing what looms as the worst environmental disaster in our nation’s history, a mammoth oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. We have mourned the deaths of coal miners trapped and killed in a deep, dangerous mine in Kentucky. Both tragedies prove the point that renewable energy — and conservation efforts to reduce our energy needs — are not just desirable goals, or environmental lingo. They are key elements that truly would enhance our national security.

Some sacrifices will be necessary to reach my goal of making the Cape and Islands energy neutral in 15 to 20 years; that is always true when real leadership is exercised. But better management and conservation must play a key role. One example of how we could create immediate and substantial savings across the region: Reduce nighttime visual pollution created by unnecessary exterior lighting, while dramatically decreasing electric consumption. Nantucket has been a leader in this regard. The rest of the Cape and the Vineyard can take inspiration from those efforts.