Feds approve Providence natural gas plant construction

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Federal regulators have given their stamp of approval to a $180 million liquefied natural gas processing facility at Fields Point in Providence.

National Grid will build the plant at its existing gas storage facility. National Grid President Tim Horan says for National Grid this marks a step forward in “transforming its electricity and natural gas infrastructure to support smarter, cleaner and more resilient energy solutions.”

Labor unions are also welcoming the news, saying the project will not only bring hundreds of good-paying jobs, it will lower sky-high energy costs.

“It’s no secret that this part of the country pays the highest rates, so the ability to have predictable, reliable sources for us to heat our homes in the winter is pivotal to the kitchen table issues that face everyday Rhode Islanders,” said Michael Sabitoni, president of the Rhode Island Building & Trades Council.

“It’s 100 percent in the wrong direction,” said Monica Huertas of the group “No LNG in PVD.”

Environmental groups have tried to block this LNG proposal from the start. They’re concerned about pollution and public safety.

“For starters the tank is almost 60 years old and it wasn’t commissioned for that, and now you have flammable, highly toxic chemicals in that facility on top of the other chemicals that you have there,” said Huertas.

Huertas says this month’s tanker crash on I-95 just feet from the site, which spilled nearly 11,000 gallons of gas, is a prime example for why this is absolutely the wrong plant in the wrong place.

“Those things on top of each other, it can really be a mixture for a really catastrophic event that I pray doesn’t happen,” said Huertas.

Huertas says her organization still plans to fight the project, and will petition Gov. Raimondo to try and stop it.

Mayor Elorza says he is “extremely disappointed” in the feds’ decision to approve the proposal. 

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2018