Acadia Center, joined by Conservation Law Foundation, filed a motion on August 18th with the Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board requesting an immediate moratorium on new fossil gas (also called natural gas) connections across Aquidneck Island, which encompasses the communities of Newport, Portsmouth, and Middletown in Rhode Island. The filing comes as part of proceedings to consider National Grid’s proposals to build and operate new major energy facilities, like Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) vaporization equipment, that will support their plans for gas growth across Aquidneck island.
National Grid’s analysis predicts that it has already enrolled more customers than its gas supply can handle on the most extreme cold days, so it is seeking additional ways to bring more gas to the island. Acadia Center analysis demonstrates that through a combination of energy efficiency and electrification to reduce gas demand, the deficit could be completely eliminated in just a few years – likely at a lower cost than new gas investments. Expanding today’s limited gas demand response programs could exert significant downward pressure on gas demand and play a key role in reducing and even eliminating the claimed supply shortage. In a nutshell: “When you’re in a hole, STOP DIGGING!”
Acadia Center is asking the Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) to ensure that National Grid considers these viable clean energy options. The mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions limits enacted by the Act on Climate bill requires Rhode Island to reduce its GHG emissions 45% by 2030, 80% by 2040, and to net-zero levels by 2050. Each time National Grid makes a new gas connection, it is introducing yet more fossil fuel reliance for the next 20 to 30 years while locking in climate-harming emissions like carbon dioxide and methane that constantly leak from the gas distribution system.
National Grid has rebuffed Acadia Center’s repeated requests to establish a gas moratorium, even temporarily, on Aquidneck Island. Instead, National Grid plans would actively grow the size of the problem they have created and lock in more greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come. By marketing gas conversions to new customers, National Grid’s plan would impose more costs on Rhode Island’s ratepayers, through construction of new gas equipment, gas mains, service line connections, and monthly customer charges.
Allowing this problem to grow does not benefit the people of Rhode Island. Climate- friendly clean energy solutions are available today and local communities on Aquidneck Island have requested a non-infrastructure approach for future energy needs. New gas connections only increase demand and exacerbate the supply concerns that National Grid is citing, and narrows the possibility that efficiency and electrification alone could solve the issue.
The EFSB will hear Acadia Center’s filing, at a hearing on August 26th. For more information regarding this proceeding, please contact Acadia Center’s Rhode Island Director, Hank Webster, at email@example.com.
More on the Aquidneck Island clean energy opportunity:
- Does Aquidneck Island Need More Natural Gas? – Providence Journal
- Gas or Clean Energy? How Should Aquidneck Island Stay Warm? – Providence Journal
- Aquidneck Island Confronts Plan to Add Natural Gas – EcoRI News
- National Grid, Portsmouth at Odds Over Future Energy Plans – EastBay RI News
- Newport Opts for the Best Value – Newport Daily News
- Acadia Center Alternatives Analysis
- Acadia Center Comments in FY2022 Gas Infrastructure, Safety and Reliability Plan
For more information:
Hank Webster, Rhode Island Director & Staff Attorney, firstname.lastname@example.org, 401.276.0600 x 402