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Overview of Burying Providence Waterfront Power Lines

$17.2 Million Raised & Designated for burying the wires under 2 rivers and 3 waterfront parks, from federal, state, and ratepayer sources. This represents 90% of National Grid's '07 cost estimate of $18.965M (which includes $1M to acquire land in Providence that will revert back to the City).

  • National Grid added a 3% escalation figure in 4/13, bringing its cost estimate to $22.7M ? even as the Narragansett Bay Commission's large sewer construction contracts are coming in an average of 36% below estimates because stiff competition among contractors in our slack economy is driving costs down.
  • The total raised will increase when National Grid updates (1) the interest accrued on funds set aside for burial in 2004, and (2) the cost estimate of the Seekonk river crossing to be funded by the regional grid.
  • Use it or lose it: If not spent on burial, these funds will dissipate with no comparable, large-scale benefit.
  • No city funds from the Providence or East Providence budgets are included in the $17.2M raised.
  • The shortfall will be covered by a surcharge on Providence and E. Providence electricity rates (authorized by state law and approved by the City Councils), costing the average ratepayer 3 cents a month for every $ 1million raised, National Grid says, or 20 cents a month – less than 1/2 a postage stamp – if the shortfall were to increase to $6.5M. This will buy a benefit for the region for the next 100 years or more.

Economic and Environmental Benefits:

  • Proximity to power lines depresses property values by as much as 30%, according to multiple studies. Burying these wires will provide 100 jobs, and will increase the cities tax base, which will reap benefits for generations, including higher assessments for Providence's nearby I-195 development parcels and East Providence's waterfront recently opened up to developers.
  • The Shooters site, with its showcase location, would be far more appealing for the public waterfront destination that has been proposed there.
  • No more storm outage worries, and the wires' electro-magnetic field, with its public health concerns for parks and nearby residences, will be reduced to "virtually nil" by burial, according to government reports.

Broad Public Support for burial, endorsed by:

  • Gov. Chafee, Mayor Taveras, three university presidents, labor union leaders, and waterfront developers
  • 35 city & state organizations, including 10 Providence neighborhood groups and 8 environmental groups.
  • More than 1,700 signatures from all 39 RI towns, 47% from outside Providence and East Providence, indicating strong statewide support.

Next Steps:

  • Acquire small waterfront parcel in Providence.
  • Resolve E. Providence issues re property acquisition, re-aligning remaining overhead line, and legal fees.
  • Detailed updates of:
    • National Grid's 2007 cost estimate
    • the interest accrued to date on funds set aside for burial by Nat'l Grid in 2004
    • the cost of the Seekonk river crossing to be paid by the regional grid, ISO-New England
    • the Greenway grants, to be confirmed by state agencies DEM and DOT.

For more information, see the links above.