Starting in mid-March, National Grid began work on the Rhode Island segment of the Interstate Reliability Project (IRP), a multi-million dollar undertaking that will improve the reliability of the region’s electric transmission system. The first phase of the work will involve vegetation clearing along an existing transmission corridor or right-of-way running through Burrillville and North Smithfield. Actual construction of new transmission power lines and the refurbishing of existing lines in the right-of-way (ROW) will get underway in May. National Grid will invest approximately $200 million in the Rhode Island segments of the IRP, which includes the 18-mi route through Burrillville and North Smithfield and a second leg running for approximately five miles from North Smithfield north to the Massachusetts border. Work on that portion will begin later in the spring.
The Rhode Island work is part of the construction of a total of 75 mi of high-voltage power lines in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut by National Grid and Northeast Utilities. The IRP is one of four New England East-West Solution (NEEWS) projects. NEEWS was identified by the Independent System Operator (ISO) New England as being critical to eliminating bottlenecks in the region’s electric transmission system and improving the reliable delivery of electricity in southern New England. National Grid’s total investment in the NEEWS project in Rhode Island and Massachusetts will total approximately $800 million.
The RI Investment
The $200-million transmission system upgrades in this Rhode Island phase include rebuilding and realigning existing transmission lines in the corridor in order to accommodate the new line in Burrillville and North Smithfield. In addition, the Sherman Road Switching Station in Burrillville will be reconstructed and the present switching station retired.
This leg of the Interstate Reliability Project and the stretch running from North Smithfield to Massachusetts are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015. They will join the already completed work of the $300 million Rhode Island Reliability project. That 21-mile long construction of a 345-kV transmission line between North Smithfield and Warwick was completed in 2013 and is currently in service.
When completed, all of these projects are expected to have an additional economic impact of millions of dollars for Rhode Island businesses to include hotels, restaurants and equipment supply companies.
National Grid is working closely with police departments in North Smithfield and Burrillville to ensure public safety through the construction period and beyond. Police details will be assigned to assist traffic flow at points where the work will intersect with streets in both communities. The company and local police are also collaborating on enforcing no-trespassing laws on the right-of-way, particularly as they pertain to all-terrain vehicle (ATV) traffic. Police are also planning spot patrols of the ROW using their own ATV’s. Local police will strictly enforce trespassing laws.
National Grid will use best management practices throughout all phases of construction and restoration of the corridor to minimize impacts to the environment. As part of the IRP, National Grid will permanently preserve approximately 142 acres of undeveloped forest land in Burrillville and North Smithfield. The land will be given to the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, the North Smithfield Land Trust, the Burrillville Land Trust and the Woonsocket Water Department.
For questions regarding the Reliability Project construction work in Burrillville and North Smithfield, visit www.interstatereliabilityproject.com.