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Need and Benefit

The demand for electricity is growing.
A modernized system will ensure we can deliver it.

The electrical system that serves Aquidneck Island is antiquated and currently stretched to its limits. As demand on the Island increases, National Grid must be able to reliably supply the electricity needed to power your homes and business on Aquidneck Island. A study of the Island determined that the current system configuration has a peak load of 147 megawatts (MW). Recent forecasts indicate that a future peak load need of 167MW – a 20 MW gap – will require the construction of new substations, along with other system improvements, to bring adequate power to the Island to reliably handle future peak load needs. This means that on the days with the highest need for electricity – hot summer or frigid winter – the residents in Middletown, Portsmouth and Newport will have reliable service.

We’re committing $93 million to ensure plentiful, reliable power for the Island.
The need for a major electrical system upgrade is real and the time to do it is now. That’s why we’re investing approximately $93 million to the Aquidneck Island Reliability project, better known as “OnIsland.” This significant upgrade will include construction of new substations, the removal of a number of outdated substations, upgraded transmission lines, and overall improvements to the distribution network.

The result will be a major improvement in our ability to deliver electricity with greater reliability while streamlining the entire system for greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Specific upgrade benefits include:

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  • The addition of approximately 60MW of new 13.8kV capacity to supply the towns of Aquidneck Island with electricity beyond the forecasted future demand
  • The removal of five obsolete substations, including two located in vital wetlands and another in a busy residential area
  • The construction of two new state-of-the-art substations
  • Power delivered more efficiently and reliably when and where it’s needed
  • Jobs and economic growth resulting from improved availability of electricity
  • Increased tax revenues for the state and local communities to further improve growth and public services

It’s not just about power, it’s about quality of life
There is no question that improvements are needed for the Aquidneck Island electrical system. The demand for power has increased steadily over the past 25 years, from 96 MW in 1990 to a projected 160.5MW in 2016.

The benefits to living, working, and playing in a region of natural beauty and opportunity such as this are great, but this unique section of New England coastline also has its limitations. Because of the island’s geography and location, there are few options available for increasing power capacity and delivery.

To provide the electrical infrastructure required by the growing demand for power requires significant structural changes that may cause some disruption to our daily lives as construction gets underway, obsolete equipment is removed and new facilities built. There is no magic solution. We are sensitive to this challenge and committed to both minimize it and clearly communicate all phases of effort. In the end, the benefits will be significant and immediate for the Island, its residents, and the economy that make it the vital and valuable place that it is and will continue to be for decades to come.