A 2021 pilot program that created a shared energy manager position between the town of Brewster and Cape Light Compact is now being expanded to include two additional towns, Chatham and Orleans.

Cape Light Compact, a municipal aggregator first formed in 1997 before becoming a joint powers entity in 2017, has worked with a number of Cape Cod communities on their energy management needs, including providing technical assistance for a Green Communities designation for Brewster in 2020.

Brewster set aside $20,000 of its Green Communities grant funding to hire a part-time energy manager, through the Compact, to help with implementation of the grant funds and associated energy saving projects.

“We were looking to hire somebody for a pretty niche skill set,” said Brewster Town Manager Peter Lombardi. “If you’re only asking for six or eight hours a week, it’s hard to get somebody who is qualified to fill that kind of a role. So we thought that if we could partner with the Compact, we’d be more competitive in the market. … Effectively, that individual worked for Brewster on our energy initiatives, Green Communities and otherwise, one day a week, and that model worked really well.”

The person filling the role left after serving for two years, however. Having heard from town managers in neighboring communities that they were seeing a similar need for energy manager positions, Lombardi and Cape Light Compact Administrator Maggie Downey had conversations with Chatham, Eastham and Orleans about interest in sharing a position. Chatham and Orleans approved the position this spring, while Eastham declined due to competing funding needs.

“There’s a lot of collaboration down on the Cape,” Lombardi said. “But there haven’t really been a lot of other opportunities in terms of shared positions.”

Lombardi said Brewster’s needs for the position have stayed relatively consistent — supporting the Energy and Climate Action Committee, exploring competitive Green Communities grants, and implementation of electric vehicle charging stations.

“One thing that we are hopeful for is that with this person now working in multiple municipalities that there may be opportunities for us to kind of think regionally about energy efficiency and be a little more coordinated in our approach with our neighbors,” Lombardi said.

Orleans Assistant Town Manager Mark Reil noted that there has been a strong desire from the community to focus on energy and climate work.

“We have a real need to expand our electric vehicle charging stations,” he said. “Having this dedicated person will allow us to ensure that we get these projects completed.”

He identified the state’s Climate Leaders program as another area for the position to work on.

“There is really so much to do here relative to climate and energy,” Reil said. “Ultimately, we expect to accomplish a great deal of work with this new shared role, while being able to collaborate with our neighbors.”

The application period for the position recently closed, and Downey said the Compact has begun reviewing applicants. The position will work two days a week with the Compact and spend the other three days with a town.

“It’s really important to make sure that everybody is on the same page going into it, in terms of understanding roles and responsibilities and setting and managing expectations so that there aren’t any surprises once the shared services agreement really gets formally underway,” Lombardi said.

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