According to recent filings with the state, National Grid wants to intensify the LNG operation on Old Mill Lane in Portsmouth. In response, the Town of Middletown urges other solutions.
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NATIONAL GRID LOOKS TO EXPAND OLD MILL LANE
LNG FACILITY, MIDDLETOWN OPPOSES
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (OCTOBER 18, 2021) – National Grid is looking to intensify its liquified natural gas operations on Old Mill Lane in Portsmouth.
According to a recent filing with the state Public Utilities Commission, the utility giant now wants to make the Old Mill Lane site the hub of its natural gas operations on Aquidneck Island.
Up to this point, the facility has been described as “temporary” in nature and only put into operation on an emergency basis when temperatures dip too much.
Among the ideas suggested in the recent National Grid filing include the potential purchase of properties and homes near the Old Mill Lane site. To read that document, visit https://mdl.town/OldMillLane online.
“The Company carefully examined several other alternatives, but its current assessment is that the alternatives are substantially more expensive, may require significant infrastructure investments, and do not offer the operational advantages provided by Old Mill Lane,” National Grid attorney George W. Watson III wrote.
“The Company will provide the EFSB and the parties with a full analysis of its selection in the supplemental application to be submitted no later than April 4. The Company’s supplemental application for the continued use of Old Mill Lane will also explore a revised site design and layout in an effort to mitigate the visual and noise impacts from the seasonal operation of portable LNG equipment at the site.”
As it has in the past, local leaders said the Town of Middletown opposes an expansion of the Old Mill Lane plant because of potential impacts on surrounding neighbors and the east side of Town.
The Town has a seat at the table because of the potential impact of the project on the community. However, unlike neighboring Portsmouth where the LNG facility is based, Middletown does not have zoning oversight on the matter. Rather, it’s up to the Town Council only to provide Middletown’s official input.
The Town’s attorney on the matter -- Marissa Desautel – is expected to give a briefing to the council at its next meeting on Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. in Town Hall.
“While the Old Mill Lane site is clearly in Portsmouth, that doesn’t mean the Town of Middletown won’t see very definite impacts from any intensification of use there,” Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said. “Throughout this process, the Town of Middletown – and a number of other parties – have been quite clear that National Grid needs to find a more reasonable solution to this longstanding problem. They can’t just always take the path that costs the least and we’ve always said this needs to be in an industrial area, not a neighborhood surrounded by homes.”
The supply of natural gas to Middletown – and the rest of Aquidneck Island – has long been an issue. But those concerns intensified after a January 2019 outage left close to 7,500 customers in Newport and Middletown without heat and natural gas service in the dead of winter.
Since then, National Grid has talked about several alternatives to help address the issue. Those included overhauling the Old Mill Lane site, creating an LNG center at the Navy base, creating a new barge system in Narragansett Bay and building a new LNG pipeline.
Of those options, the least expensive at $53 million and most timely was the one involving Old Mill Lane. To review those plans, visit https://mdl.town/NationalGridLNG online. To see a copy of the presentation released today by National Grid about the project, visit https://mdl.town/OMLStakeholder online.
Contrary to some rumors, the sale of National Grid to PPL Corp. will not slow – or stop – the LNG project locally.