DV-12-23 Evaluating a new energy future for Isle au Haut

William Stevens
Isle au Haut Electric Power Company

Like many island and remote area residents, Isle au Haut citizens are faced with relatively high electricity costs, nearly three times the mainland average. The high costs created an incentive to be an early adopter of alternative energy. The Isle au Haut Electric Power Company is a small, 127-meter, member-owned utility serving the community of Isle au Haut. Power to the island is supplied by a cable from Stonington that is 32 years old, well beyond its design life. Because reliable energy is critical to the viability of the community, the company is beginning to plan a transition to a new cable or to an alternative source of on-island power, e.g., solar and/or wind. Initial explorations of the technical feasibility and the costs of a solar PV/battery/generator system suggested that using these technologies may be applicable and that, if designed properly, might provide power at a rate that is competitive to the island’s current purchases via cable and utility providers.

The company’s objective is to create a plan for the provision of safe, reliable, and affordable power service to Isle au Haut. Sea Grant funds supported engagement of an engineering firm for the purpose comparing the costs of a new submarine transmission cable and the costs of alternative energy technologies that might be used for on-island power generation.

“The conclusions of the study have been very helpful in guiding our island utility in pursuit of a program, now underway, to improve our long term electric energy future,” said Stevens.

Isle au Haut may provide an example to other island and remote communities who might
be considering similar investments. They will work to engage other island communities to both share what they learn as well as incorporate their lessons learned to date into local efforts.

Sea Grant funds: $4,500