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Plan to 'bury the power lines' dealt another blow

After nearly 14 years, there was one more blow to a plan to bury the power lines at India Point Park Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (WJAR)

After nearly 14 years, there was one more blow to a plan to bury the power lines at India Point Park Wednesday.

The Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board voted to kill the directive for National Grid to do the work.

In 2003, then-attorney general Patrick Lynch reached a settlement with National Grid, Providence, and East Providence, to bury the power lines.

Feasibility studies, along with $28 million set aside from the State of Rhode Island, the federal government, as well as ratepayers, led to more studies -- and cost increases.

Sharon Steele, a realtor in Providence, and also with the Jewelry District Association, is livid.

“They're not making any more waterfront, OK? There is new technology today that will allow the burying of those lines," she said. "This is all hands on deck to make this right for the next generation,."

David Riley heads up the grass-roots group, "Friends of India Point Park."

"There are a lot of states that have spent money burying strategically located power lines like these are, where it's a civic benefit, where it's a scenic benefit (and) it's a benefit in the public interest," he said.

Instead, National Grid has a new plan, which will take a new study, new funding, public input, and certification, as well as more time.

Ted Kresse, the new National Grid spokesman, said in contrast, “We all diligently looked into the possibility of burying those power lines, and at the end of the day it did not make sense. There were just too many risks involved. The costs were too great, and this is a solution that we believe that all parties get what they were looking for.”

In its new proposal, National Grid notes that it wants to remove the aging transmission lines that start in East Providence and cut through the footprint of India Point Park, re-positioning them behind Tockwotton on the Waterfront, along the East Providence side of the Seekonk River, strapped to the side of the Washington Bridge, reconnected, all above ground, behind the hotel.

“All parties kind of get something that they were looking for," Kreese said.

But Steele said she's not satisfied.

“So, I'm sorry. It is an insult to our intelligence," she said.

Going forward, it might end up in Rhode Island Supreme Court.

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