CVEC Committee To Hold Final Public Forum February 1

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By: Michael C. Bailey
Published: 01/19/12

 Supporters and opponents of the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC) will get one last chance to weigh in on the controversial organization.

The Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates’ Special Committee on Inquiry into the Cape Light Compact will hold a public forum on Wednesday, February 1, and this is likely to be the last such forum before the committee drafts a report on its findings for the full assembly.

The committee was formed last year to review CVEC’s operational and financial practices, in response to criticism from Mid-Cape residents who claimed the organization lacks transparency.

The February forum was scheduled after several members of CVEC’s board of directors and a number of town managers from CVEC’s member communities attended a January 4 meeting, expecting to be heard about the organization’s practices. They were shut down by committee Chairman Ronald J. Bergstrom because that meeting was posted as having an opportunity for public comment, but was not posted as a full-fledged public forum.

Mr. Bergstrom, the speaker of the assembly, reiterated this week remarks he made at the January 4 meeting, that anyone who wishes to speak at the February forum will be kept on a tight leash; remarks would be accepted only on specific areas of inquiry by the committee within their specific charge: to review CVEC’s operations and finances and, if necessary, file recommendations for improvement with the full assembly.

Stressing that the committee was looking more for evidence of “bad practices” by CVEC rather than “wrongdoing,” Mr. Bergstrom said the committee is not interested in hearing about larger topics such as wind turbine development, and would not entertain comments outside its express area of interest.

The committee this week also narrowed down its main concerns with CVEC, namely its lack of minutes for meetings of its executive committee, the fact it has not undergone regular financial audits, and the lack of detailed information on its revenue streams and spending practices—particularly as they relate to $520,000 in contributions from ConEd Solutions.
ConEd Solutions, which is also the region’s power supplier through the Cape Light Compact—CVEC’s parent organization—provided $100,000 in startup capital in 2007, soon after CVEC was formed, and another $420,000 in 2008.

Deborah L. McCutcheon, Truro’s delegate to the assembly, found in her research that the money from ConEd was originally provided to the CLC for the purpose of holding “energy fairs,” but was later repurposed for a high school renewable energy project and, ultimately, repurposed to fund CVEC.

The committee tentatively expects to hold up to two more meetings after the February forum to work on its report to the assembly. Mr. Bergstrom said he did not support immediately forwarding the group’s findings to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s and/or Inspector General’s Offices for further action, calling that move “premature,” but said requesting state intervention was not off the table.

The February 1 forum will be held from 1 o 3 PM in the chamber of the assembly in the Barnstable First District Courthouse on Route 6A in Barnstable Village.

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