Chatham To Share Energy Manager With Other Towns

by Tim Wood

CHATHAM – For the past three years, Brewster and the Cape Light Compact have shared a staff person to assist with increasingly complex energy management. Now that pilot program is being expanded to involve three other area towns.

Chatham, Orleans and Eastham will join Brewster in sharing an energy manager, who will work one day a week in each community and be an employee of the Compact.

Among other duties, the energy manager will track the town’s solar projects, work on “Green Communities” initiatives and electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and support the towns’ various energy related policies, programs and projects.

The Brewster program “worked out very successfully,” Town Manager Jill Goldsmith told the select board last month. “It’s a really interesting concept, because many of us are doing the same type of programs.”

Tasks the energy manager would perform for Chatham include monitoring and gathering data on the town’s solar installations; applying for grants; tracking town government agencies’ energy usage and developing reports; serving as a contact with the region’s energy providers; and overseeing EV charging station projects.

“We thought this was a really great first step for us,” Goldsmith said.

The person who had held the position for its three years with Brewster recently left, and the Compact is currently recruiting a replacement. The regional agency will cover the position’s benefits, with each town paying $427 per week for 7.5 hours of work. The town’s contribution will not exceed $14,000.

“I like the fact that we’re sharing resources,” select board member Jeffrey Dykens said at the March 26 meeting.

Board member Dean Nicastro was concerned about what authority the town would have over the manager. The person will report directly to Goldsmith, she said, and won’t be implementing policy but will provide research and recommendations on energy-related issues.

Sharing the manager with the other towns also provides an opportunity to investigate shared programs, Goldsmith said. If there are programs such as grants where the town might compete with the other communities in the program, the work will be handled by other town staff and not the energy manager, she added.

The select board unanimously approved an agreement on the program with the Cape Light Compact.