The Town of Bristol is no longer part of the East Bay Energy Consortium. That decision was made at the Oct. 10 Bristol Town Council meeting, with three councilors voting to pull away from the group.
Town council Chairman Kenneth Marshall, who takes credit for initiating the consortium as a collaborative way for municipalities to work together for a common solution, did not attend the council session. The motion to withdraw Bristol from the group came from Councilor Halsey Herreshoff, who opened the topic to discussion.
“We should only get involved in this if it benefits our towns and citizens. I don’t see how it’s going to benefit our citizens,” Mr. Herreshoff said.
Using electricity made from a renewable energy source such as wind turbines would increase the cost of electricity to consumers from .04 cents per kwh to .33 cents, said Mr. Herreshoff.
“Does that make any sense?” he asked.
The motion drew a second from Councilor Antonio.
Councilor Mary Parella, the lone dissenter, attempted to dissuade action, saying she was opposed to voting on an issue that was supported by Mr. Marshall on a night he wasn’t there to weigh in on the discussion.
“To work collaboratively with other communities is a good thing for our town,” Ms. Parella said.
She added that alternative energy producers such as the wind farm proposed in Tiverton are going to go somewhere, so “we might as well take advantage of it.”
“Buying green energy does exist and we are all buying it,” she said.
Bristol resident Peter Hewett, who has consistently opposed the consortium’s spending of public funds, called the consortium an “economic boondoggle” and urged the council to withdraw Bristol from the group.
“You have the power to end the Town of Bristol’s involvement right now,” Mr. Hewett said.
The council then voted 3-1 to withdraw Bristol from EBEC.
Acting as chairman, David Barboza expressed his relief from having to defend EBEC from its critics.
“Let’s bury it and move on with town business,” he said. “We don’t want to go through this exercise again. This is not a closed door. Another council in the future can move on with it.”
The day after the council took the vote, Mr. Marshall was reached by telephone. Having been in Montana on business, he said he was disappointed with his colleagues’ action on EBEC.
“I would have voted against it. I would have voted with Mary,” said Mr. Marshall.
“It was specifically told to us that there would be no financial liability on the towns,” he said.
He reiterated that EBEC is not just about wind farms in Tiverton.
“It’s a collaboration among municipalities to find efficiencies. Period,” he said. “What’s wrong with that?”