opinion Newport Rhode Island

By Nancy Grieb, Portsmouth, RI

The National Grid proposed option for siting a new LNG facility continues the inequity in the treatment of the west side of Aquidneck Island in Portsmouth  

The west side has 8 planned or installed solar farms; the east side has zero. The west side has 2 giant wind turbines; the east side has a small one.  The west side has 2 mobile home parks; the east side has zero.  The west side has one trash transfer station; the east side has zero. The west side has one marijuana dispensary; the east side has zero. The west side has one dog park; the east side has zero.

Yet, the East side has 32 ALT preserved open space areas totaling over 1500 acres, the west side has 1, at less than 2 acres.  

The Council recently pursued a road diet for East Main Road.  This would have redirected east side traffic onto West Main Road.  West Main already has 20% more accidents and 4 times the fatalities. 

The issue now is that the east side has a temporary  LNG facility.   That LNG facility was logically located at the best injection spot for service to the Island and it is by far the most economical answer for protecting the Aquidneck Island gas service, until supply and demand are balanced.
To even consider the option of moving the LNG facility from an east side residential neighborhood to a west side residential neighborhood, at a huge cost to the consumer,  continues the attack on west side property values and quality of life.    National Grid’s option states the facility would be on Navy property.  It is very careful to say “On Navy property” rather than on the Navy Base.  That is because the property being considered is the excessed property along Burma Road.  That property abuts Prescott Farms, Redwood Farms, Rolling Hills, Overlook, Bay View, Leland Point and Kings Grant – all developed residential areas on the west side.  Remember, Melville Elementary School is also in that area.

The evacuation radius if there is a problem at Old Mill Lane is up to 1.25 miles.  The evacuation zone for the proposed $100M+ permanent facility on Navy property would be much greater.   While National Grid says it will be low risk, that does not mean no risk!    Our small island is not a logical spot to put any LNG facility.  Moving that LNG facility from one neighborhood to another neighborhood cannot be justified technically,  economically or ethically!

A moratorium on all new gas customers,  until supply is adequate for the Island and an LNG facility is not needed, is what the Portsmouth Council and our State legislators should be supporting.  The burden is then on National Grid to solve the problem, not the ratepayers.  Furthermore, the moratorium will jump start the use of non-fossil fuel options like heat pumps and geo-thermal in new construction, a win/win for all Aquidneck Island residents.