Islanded Grid Resource Center

The Islanded Grid Resource Center serves stakeholders in Alaska, American Samoa, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, and U.S. Virgin Islands. Contact your resource center to learn more about wind resources, projects, and information in your area.

Focus areas: Isolated islanded grid projects, including wind-diesel hybrid systems, megawatt-scale wind systems on islanded grids, and commercial-scale offshore wind projects. The Islanded Grid Resource Center creates a wind energy knowledge base and resource for stakeholders such as wind operators, government agencies, researchers, and technical experts.

Photo of wind turbines at sea.

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With offshore wind advances on the horizon, island residents and energy leaders from Monhegan, Maine, and Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, traveled to Block Island in March 2017 with the Islanded Grid Resource Center (IGRC) and representatives from the University of Maine’s Aqua Ventus I project to meet with local stakeholders and expand an ongoing dialogue among all four island communities.

Suzanne MacDonald, community energy director at the Island Institute and an IGRC representative, assists officials from these remote New England communities in their efforts to learn more about wind energy, including offshore wind projects.

“Working with island communities, I think they often see themselves as pretty unique because they don’t have a really big peer group of other communities that face what they face. But when we get them together into this type of setting, they see that they have more in common than they might have realized,” MacDonald said.

Island communities face the challenge of negotiating community benefit agreements, an experience that Block Island officials and participants discussed during the exchange trip. Community benefit agreements can help ensure that those most affected by the installation of offshore wind farms are compensated by developers for the project’s associated impacts. Block Island officials were able to negotiate an agreement that benefited their once-isolated community that was historically powered entirely by diesel generators. By connecting to the regional electric grid, the transition will stabilize and likely reduce electric rates on the island.

According to Nantucket’s Energy Coordinator Lauren Sinatra, who participated in the trip, officials in her community wish to negotiate a deal with offshore wind companies to compensate the community for potential impacts while addressing Nantucket’s needs.

Block Island town officials negotiated an agreement for developer Deepwater Wind to reimburse the town for consultant fees so that the community could be more adequately represented and informed in the regulatory process and in negotiations with Deepwater. This model is currently being used on Monhegan, an islanded grid community that is disconnected from mainland power, and may be utilized by additional island communities.

The group also visited the Block Island Power Company to learn about the process of connecting the island to the grid. Monhegan recently experienced electric rates exceeding 70 cents per kilowatt-hour, nearly four times the mainland average. When they visited Block Island, Monhegan representatives were considering what form of community benefit agreement to move forward with regarding the proposed 12-megawatt New England Aqua Ventus I project.

The Island Institute published a “What Works” entry about offshore wind on its website that includes a short video about the trip to Block Island.

A boat docked near Block Island Wind Farm

Block Island, Rhode Island. (Photo by Gary Norton)