national grid

Rhode Island Starts Digging Out Of The Blizzard

Jan 26, 2015
John Bender / RIPR

Residents across the state are digging out of the blizzard that dumped more than two feet on parts of the state. Gov. Gina Raimondo lifted the state’s travel ban last night. She thanked Rhode Islanders for staying off the roads. There was a fire in Providence and a handful of accidents, but no major injuries from the storm.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment The Bottom Line.

This week, Dave and Mark talk with National Grid spokesman David Graves. They go over the permitting process of stringing new power lines around the island, and why a growing hunger for juice has forced the utility to upgrade.

When to Listen

You can hear The Bottom Line each Friday at 5:50pm.

National Grid said the tremendous growth on Aquidneck Island has prompted it to spend $93 million on upgrading its power system there.

The utility said the current system is outdated and will soon be overwhelmed. How outdated is it? Well, one substation was built in 1949.

RIPR File Photo

The Block Island offshore wind farm will produce more power than originally expected, said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski at an open meeting before the state's Public Utilities Commission. The company expected the wind farm to produce 40 percent of its total maximum power. But since the company proposed the project, advances in turbine technology have bumped up the wind farm’s projected efficiency.

RIPR File Photo

The state’s Public Utilities Commission will be brought up to speed today on the status of the Block Island wind farm project. As Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza reports, Deepwater Wind and others will offer those updates.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

The Public Utilities Commission approved a 14 percent rate increase in National Grid electricity rates. The vote was met with anger by residents who attended this  morning's public hearing.

Angry residents repeatedly asked the PUC not to approve the electricity rate hike. Warren resident Joyce Katzberg said she wants publicly-owned utilities that aren’t beholden to corporate interests.

“And for those utilities to be brought to us through clean, safe, and renewable sources, not fracking, not mountaintop removal, and not nuclear power plants,” said Katzberg.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

In a packed hearing room, the state’s Public Utilities Commission listened to testimony for much of the day on National Grid’s proposed 24 percent rate hike.

The increase would kick in January 1st, how long it will last is another matter. The PUC heard testimony both for and against stretching a lower rate out over twelve months as opposed to the requested six months.

Residents will get a chance Tuesday to tell the state’s Public Utilities Commission how they feel about a proposed 24 percent rate hike from National Grid.  If approved, the rate hike would kick in on January 1st .

National Grid is asking the state’s public utilities commission to clear the way for a nearly 24 percent rate hike. The utility estimates that will add nearly $21 to the average residential customer bill.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee and other leaders have gathered at Slater Mill in Pawtucket this afternoon for a ceremonial signing of the Affordable Clean Energy Security Act, an energy bill the governor signed into law earlier this summer.

The act gives Rhode Island an opportunity to work with other New England states to address volatile electricity prices. Last winter, the New England region spent $5 billion in energy costs, nearly as much as the region spent for the entire 2012 calendar year.

New Englanders spent $5 billion in electricity last winter, compared to $5.2 billion for all of 2012. That's why each of the New England states has introduced legislation in their respective states to address the problem of rising electricity prices. But environmental advocacy groups are worried this regional collaboration would promote unnecessary natural gas projects.

The state's renewable energy fund and the program designed to stimulate the development of renewable energy projects in Rhode Island are producing positive outcomes: more jobs and less pollution. That's according to a recent report by the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources.  

Courtesy of Bella Energy

The Quonset Development Corporation has given a Colorado-based renewable energy company, Bella Energy, the green light to build a solar farm.

The solar farm will sit on an acre and a half, out of the five acres Bella Energy will lease.

Ted Kresse, spokesperson for the Quonset Development Corporation, said the land Bella Energy will lease is not fit for industrial development, but works for solar projects.

If you've been wondering whether the recent cold snap helped spike your energy costs, wonder no more and be sure to listen to this week's Bottom Line. Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon to learn more from National Grid spokesman David Graves.

Graves discusses how the availability and price of natural gas is effecting electricity rates, new rates for homes and businesses, and what business owners should know about their electric rate plans.

When to Listen

John Bender / RIPR

Dozens of people were evacuated from buildings on the outskirts of downtown Providence following an underground explosion yesterday.

National grid confirmed that the explosion was caused by pressure built up inside an underground utility vault.

Sarah Longley from was working in the Women and Infants building on Chestnut Street only feet away from the explosion.

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