Ice Bear
Ice Bear Photo: Courtesy of Ice Energy.

During the summer, people flock to the scenic island of Nantucket. Electricity use spikes, largely because of energy-guzzling air conditioners. It’s become more than the Island’s two transmission lines can handle.

Building a third line from mainland Massachusetts would cost at least $75 million. So officials are pursuing other options.

Hopkins: “They were interested in solutions that would just do something about this increased demand.”

Mike Hopkins runs Ice Energy. The company makes an alternative to standard A.C. called an Ice Bear. The system freezes a tank of water. Then air is pushed across the ice and vented into the home.

The system slightly reduces a home’s overall power use. But its main benefit is that the energy-intensive work – making ice – happens at night, when demand on the power grid is low. Then during peak daytime hours …

Hopkins: “Cooling with the melting ice uses less than five percent of what the air conditioner would have required in terms of electricity.”

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The state announced it will provide more than 200 Nantucket homes with Ice Bears. The goal of this pilot project is to help Nantucket solve its energy problems without the expense of a new transmission line.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image graphic: Created by David McCarthy.

Jan Ellen Spiegel

Jan Ellen Spiegel is a long-time Connecticut-based journalist whose career has included radio, television, print, and digital reporting. She has won awards for her reporting on energy, environment, climate...