Rhode Island State House

via Rhode Island General Assembly 

Rep. Terri Cortvriend and Rep. Lauren Carson are inviting their constituents to a discussion about the future of natural gas distribution on Aquidneck Island.

The discussion, hosted by the Aquidneck Island Climate Caucus, will take place Wednesday, Nov. 18, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in a virtual meeting on Zoom. For registration and access, email Aquidneckclimate@gmail.com.

The discussion will center on what should be done to address the possible gap between natural gas supply and demand on Aquidneck Island. National Grid has studied a few potential options for Aquidneck Island, taking into account cost, safety, reliability, and local environmental impacts, while also accommodating a proposed annual increase in gas usage of about 1 percent from now through 2035. According to National Grid, the solutions must close a possible gap of 18 percent by 2035 between available supply and peak demand on the coldest days in winter.

Among the proposals being considered are the status quo, which is operating a portable backup liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility during the winter; reducing demand through energy efficiency efforts and other low-carbon approaches; developing a more reliable liquefied natural gas solution; building another gas pipeline on to Aquidneck Island; or a “non-infrastructure” option, which would involve converting buildings over to high efficiency electric heat and investing deeply in energy efficiency.

In particular, the discussion will focus on the possibilities of the non-infrastructure solution, since it would move Aquidneck Island away from carbon-producing gas, and is consistent the Resilient Rhode Island Act, which sets a goal of reducing Ocean State carbon emissions 40 percent by 2035.

The Aquidneck Island Climate Caucus is a community group formed by Representatives Cortvriend and Carson to give voice to the importance of mitigating and adapting for the earth’s changing climate.

“We on Aquidneck Island have a close-up view of the problems caused by our heavy reliance on natural gas. We were literally left in the cold two winters ago when infrastructure problems required our gas to be turned off for days. And, perhaps more than any other place in Rhode Island, we suffer the adverse effects of carbon-fueled sea level rise as our coastal communities become inundated with floodwaters regularly,” said Representative Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown). “Doubling down on natural gas is not the solution here. We need a strong call for alternatives that will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.”

Said Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport), “This is an opportunity. Since we need to make some kind of change, it should be the change we’ve already identified as in our best interest: less reliance on carbon-polluting fuels. We look forward to a lively discussion about how we can best advocate for the changes we need for a safer, more resilient future on Aquidneck Island.”