Increasing Energy Awareness on Nantucket

Sponsor: Town of Nantucket Energy Office photo (5)
Sponsor Liaison: Lauren Sinatra
Student Team: Frederick Burgwardt, Kevin Maynard, Leanne Sickles
Abstract: As the summer demand for electricity on Nantucket approaches the supply capabilities of the two undersea cables that power the island, residents of Nantucket face the possibility of having to finance a third cable. The goal of this project was to assist the Town of Nantucket Energy Office in identifying ways to increase public awareness about cost saving and energy reduction initiatives. Through surveys and interviews we evaluated residents’ knowledge and receptiveness towards energy and energy saving programs. We recommend that the Town Energy Office work with local stakeholders to distribute information and hold events that promote energy saving initiatives and drafted informational materials that the Town Energy Office may use in the future.

Increasing Energy Awareness on Nantucket Final Report

Energy_Awareness_On_Nantucket_ Final_Presentation








Executive Summary

Nantucket faces the unwelcome and expensive prospect of having to install a third undersea cable in order to meet the demand for electricity in the summer. To delay, or perhaps, avoid this problem, the Nantucket Energy Office and the utility company National Grid have been researching and implementing programs to reduce peak electric demand, such as Demand Response and Municipal Aggregation. Additionally, they have been promoting the Mass Save Home Energy Assessment program to reduce energy demand and also give consumers the ability to better monitor their energy consumption. Although these programs may defer the need for a third cable, the public needs to be properly informed about what they are and how they work in order for them to be effective.

The goal our project was to identify ways to increase public awareness about cost saving and energy reduction initiatives. The project had four major objectives:

  1. Identify lessons learned from past approaches to enhance cost and energy savings,
  2. Assess public knowledge and attitudes towards local energy issues and programs,
  3. Determine how local stakeholders can support the initiatives of the Town Energy Office, and
  4. Develop outreach materials to promote energy awareness and energy saving on Nantucket.

By investigating other communities’ attempts to enhance energy awareness we determined what techniques may or may not work on Nantucket. In addition, by assessing the public’s knowledge of current outreach material through the use of a survey, we determined where knowledge is lacking and how the outreach material can be improved. We interviewed local stakeholders and organizations to determine how each might assist the Town Energy Office in this effort. Finally, we developed new outreach material and strategies based on the findings from our research.


From the results of our survey of 194 year-round residents and 88 seasonal residents, we concluded that the majority of the population on Nantucket is aware of how the island receives its electricity, but is generally not aware of the surcharges that pay for the cables or what the major factors are that increase electricity demand in the summer. We found that seasonal residents are generally less aware of these topics than year-round residents. We also found that the majority of the population on Nantucket is interested in participating in different energy saving programs. We conclude that those who are opposed to participating in such programs may be more interested if they were better informed.

From our stakeholder interviews, we determined that there are multiple opportunities for collaboration between the Town Energy Office and local organizations. These local organizations appear willing to assist the Town Energy Office in planning events, procuring locations for the events, funding, and distributing informational material. By leveraging these partnerships, the Energy Office can create new opportunities to educate the public about energy saving programs and technologies.


Based on our findings, we recommend that the Town of Nantucket Energy Office pursue the following to increase energy awareness:

  • Collaborate with local stakeholders to develop energy policies or programs to increase participation in energy efficiency initiatives. We recommend that the Town Energy Office work with local organizations to organize events to promote energy efficiency measures. By collaborating with organizations such as the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce or Housing Nantucket, the Town Energy Office has the opportunity to organize various events to showcase the energy efficiency incentives offered to residents on the island. Specific events could include an energy-focused ‘Business After Hours’ or a live demonstration of a Mass Save Home Energy Assessment. Furthermore, there are opportunities for educational programs to be developed in collaboration with the Maria Mitchell Association for use during its summer Discovery Camps.
  • Work to develop outreach material tailored to Nantucket residents, and distribute the materials via local media. We recommend that the Town Energy Office create informational exposés to be included in organization newsletters. Rather than create its own newsletter, the Town Energy Office should develop informational pieces to be sent out in issues of local organization newsletters. The information included should be relevant to ongoing projects or projects that may be implemented in the future.
  • Work with future groups to explore new energy programs. We recommend that a future group explore ways to improve the Town Energy Office Website. We recognized that the Town Energy Office website needs to be improved. The website should present the problems facing Nantucket more prominently and feature residents taking a stance toward energy efficiency. Sections should be developed to explore topics such as Demand Response or Municipal Aggregation to quell doubts residents may have about the purpose of these programs.