RI state law requires that the Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) grant a license for a utility project “only upon finding that…the proposed facility…will enhance the socio-economic fabric of the state.”
At its February 6 hearing on burying the power lines on the Providence/East Providence waterfront, the Siting Board let National Grid spend 90 percent of the three-hour hearing focusing on engineering and cost issues, while the Board ignored the public interest in considering the broad environmental, social, and economic issues inherent in its decision.
National Grid proposes to replace 100-year old towers with new ones that would leave overhead power lines dominating the waterfront, so the Board’s decision on this issue will shape our waterfront for the next century.
The only time broader issues came up in the hearing was during the 15 minutes that Robin Muksian, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza’s Director of Administration, testified about the importance of enhancing our “extraordinary waterfront” and the potential for encouraging tourism if the overhead power lines are removed.
Forty supporters of burial organized by Friends of India Point Park (FIPP) attended the hearing. In a subsequent email, FIPP Co-Chair David Riley urged its supporters to thank Mayor Elorza at firstname.lastname@example.org for the City’s strong stand on insisting the less expensive bridge option be studied and that there be a public process that includes burial supporters to review the power lines issue.
During the hearing, the Siting Board left unchallenged what Riley called “highly misleading testimony by National Grid and others” regarding the acquisition of a parcel in Providence needed for burial, and the RI Department of Transportation (RIDOT)’s view of the feasibility of attaching the power lines to the bridges over the Providence and Seekonk Rivers.
Riley said that FIPP has drawn the Board’s attention to these misstatements at past hearings and in written material sent to the Board. For more information, go to www.friendsofindiapointpark.org or email FIPP at email@example.com.