Aquidneck Island, Rhode Island

National Grid to Invest $93 Million in Aquidneck Island Infrastructure

Feb. 12, 2015
"OnIsland" project to bring more reliable power to Portsmouth, Middletown and Newport, Rhode Island

National Grid will invest an estimated $93 million in the electricity transmission and distribution systems on Aquidneck Island, RI, in order to bring more reliable power to the nearly 32,000 homes and businesses in Portsmouth, Middletown and Newport. The project, “OnIsland” (officially named the Aquidneck Island Reliability Project), is slated to begin this fall and will conclude in 2020, pending approvals and permits.

“The electrical system that serves Aquidneck Island is outdated by today’s standards, and is already stretched near to the limits of its intended capacity,” says Timothy F. Horan, president of National Grid in Rhode Island. “This project is a reflection of Connect21, National Grid’s vision of the energy delivery company of the future. It will not only strengthen the backbone of the transmission and distribution systems on the Island it will enable us to provide energy solutions for our customers in the future. Our planned upgrades mean that all of our customers on the Island can expect that power will be more reliably delivered where and when it is needed and service restoration following interruptions will be accelerated.”

The project will increase delivery capacity on the Island to meet the power supply needs into the future. A study of the Island determined that the current system has a peak load -- the maximum amount of electricity consumed at any given point in time -- of 147 MW, an increase of nearly 50 MW since 1990. However, recent forecasts indicate a near-future peak load need of approximately 167 MW – a difference of 20 MW, or enough electricity to power roughly 3,000 homes for a year.

“The plan we’ll be putting before permitting boards is the result of an extensive exploratory process that ultimately yielded the most cost-effective and customer-sensitive solution for the Island,” said Horan.

The planned upgrades to the system include construction of two state-of-the-art substations (in Middletown and Newport) with remote operation capabilities; reconfiguration of two high-voltage transmission lines located in National Grid rights-of-way between Portsmouth and Middletown; and an array of local distribution work (the lines in the streets that tie into homes and businesses) in Middletown and Newport. Completion of this work also means that five substations on the Island will be deconstructed.

To help keep the community informed, National Grid has launched a number of easily accessible tools that will educate customers about the project and provide updates on its progress. During the next several weeks, National Grid will host community information sessions in Middletown and Portsmouth, along with an online webinar for those unable to attend the in-person engagements.

In addition to these information sessions, customers and the community may also find project updates or connect with National Grid through a project website (, via Twitter (@OnIslandNG) and by calling a hotline at 401-400-5862 or 800-568-4558.

“Our commitment to this project goes beyond just replacing wires, poles and substations,” says Horan. “We’re also committed to minimizing disruptions to the lives of those who live and work on the Island. We want to open a dialogue with customers, businesses and the community and encourage them to reach out and engage in conversations with us.”

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