Latest News

Rhode Island Secures $60M for Transit Enhancements

Date: May 14, 2024

In a significant boost to Rhode Island’s transportation infrastructure, US Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, alongside Congressmen Seth Magaziner and Gabe Amo, have announced a substantial allocation of federal transit funding for the Ocean State in 2024, the Newport Buzz reports.

The $60.1 million allotment, released by the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA), signifies a notable investment aimed at enhancing public transportation services statewide. This funding, sourced from various legislative acts including the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (P.L. 117-58) and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2024 (P.L. 118-47), represents a $4.2 million increase for the Rhode Island Public Transit Agency (RIPTA) network, encompassing bus services, trains, and ferry operations.

The infusion of $4.2 million into RIPTA’s budget is a direct outcome of the $16.6 billion earmarked for the FTA in the 2024 Appropriations law, a notable augmentation from the House of Representatives’ original appropriations bill.

These federal funds will be instrumental in modernizing, maintaining, and operating public transportation systems throughout Rhode Island. From upgrading stations, tracks, and maintenance facilities to planning and designing new transit corridors, the investment aims to improve accessibility and reliability for seniors and riders with disabilities. Read more.

McKee Criticized Over $400M Bridge Replacement

Date: May 14, 2024

Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee says replacing the Washington Bridge will cost the state more than $400 million and take years, drawing GOP criticism over his administration's response to the incident, The Center Square reports.

The new price tag for the project — which is more than $100 million higher than initial estimates — includes demolition of the structurally deficient structure that serves as a gateway to Rhode Island's largest city, Providence, carrying about 100,000 vehicles a day over the Seekonk River.

McKee said Rhode Island will apply for a US Department of Transportation grant to pay for 60% of the expense. McKee has also submitted a budget amendment to borrow up to $334.6 million to pay more of the bridge replacement cost if the state doesn't get the federal grant. He said his administration is investigating the circumstances that led to the need to shut down and replace the bridge and has pledged that a "day of reckoning" will be "coming soon."

But Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman Joe Powers says the bridge's failure comes as "no surprise" and blames the McKee administration for ignoring deficiencies flagged by bridge inspectors over a decade ago. Read more.

Rhode Island to Get $54.7M for Transportation Upgrades, Climate Resiliency Projects

Date: April 17, 2024

US Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Seth Magaziner and Gabe Amo recently announced four grants totaling $54,750,800 from the US Department of Transportation’s Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) Grant program.

The grants were awarded to help fund the installation of a dehumidification system on the cables and anchors of the Mount Hope Bridge; the restoration of the Newport Cliff Walk; the development of a coastal management plan for the Town of Warren’s Market to Metacom project; and nature-based, climate resiliency stormwater projects at 96 locations across Rhode Island. Read more.

Project Developers Submit Offshore Wind Proposals to Rhode Island Energy

Date: April 17, 2024

Rhode Island Energy recently announced that it will evaluate offshore wind (OSW) proposals from four project developers in response to a request for proposals (RFP) for approximately 1,200 MW of clean and affordable energy – the largest procurement in state history, according to WUN.

Proposals were received from: Avangrid Renewables LLC, Orsted, SouthCoast Wind Energy LLC, and Vineyard Offshore. The evaluation process is expected to take several months.

“Our company is committed to helping Rhode Island meet its nation-leading clean energy goals and will carefully review these proposals,” said Greg Cornett, president of Rhode Island Energy. “Our objective is to advance the clean energy transition while keeping energy affordable and reliable for our customers. This is the lens through which we will evaluate these proposals.”

Rhode Island Energy requested proposals this past October as part of a coordinated solicitation with state agencies and utilities in neighboring Massachusetts and Connecticut. Adding to the nation’s first offshore wind farm that sits in waters off Block Island and the Revolution Wind project now under development, this additional procurement could help meet more than 80% of the state’s estimated 2030 electricity demand with carbon-free energy. Read more.

McKee Promises 'Reckoning' over Bridge Closure

Date: March 29, 2024

Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee is pledging to hold parties "responsible" for any shoddy design or work on a major bridge over Interstate 195 after announcing that the state will need to come up with about $300 million to replace the failing structure, The Center Square reports.

McKee said that an independent review of the Washington Street Bridge — a gateway to Rhode Island's largest city, Providence, that carries about 100,000 vehicles a day over the Seekonk River — uncovered additional structural deficiencies that required that it be replaced.

"We’re going to fix the bridge, we're going to make it right, and we’re going to make sure we keep people safe," McKee, a Democrat, told reporters during a briefing.

McKee said his administration is investigating the circumstances that led to the need to shut down and replace the bridge. "We will hold all responsible parties fully accountable," he said. "The day of reckoning is coming and coming soon."

The state Rhode Island Department of Transportation said the estimated cost to demolish and replace the bridge was between $250 million and $300 million. The state is looking at sources of funding for the project, including federal grants, according to the agency. Read more.

Rhode Island Advances Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

Date: March 29, 2024

Governor Dan McKee, in collaboration with the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER), the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), recently showcased the accomplishments of Phase 1 of the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Program at the Ashaway Park & Ride.

Launched in December 2023, Phase 1 of the NEVI Program focuses on deploying electric vehicle DC Fast Chargers (Level 3) charging stations. Two of these stations are being installed at the Ashaway Park & Ride in Hopkinton, while the Route 117 Park & Ride in Warwick is also slated to receive two new chargers. These Level 3 chargers can charge an electric vehicle up to 80% within 20-40 minutes. Construction at the Ashaway location commenced in February 2024.

Upon completion, the NEVI Program’s Phase 1 will feature eight DC Fast Chargers (Level 3) and six Dual-Port Level 2 charging stations along the Alternative Fuel Corridor on Interstate 95 in Rhode Island, strategically positioned to support the growing demand for electric vehicles. Read more in the Newport Buzz.

Rhode Island to Receive $47M for Water Infrastructure Improvements

Date: March 29, 2024

According to What’s Up Newp, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced $47.491 million in funding to help modernize Ocean State water infrastructure. The funding comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which allocates $43 billion in federal funding for water infrastructure improvements across the country.

US Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Seth Magaziner and Gabe Amo announced the $47,491,000 in new federal drinking water and wastewater infrastructure funding to help pay for clean water projects across the Ocean State. The federal funding, which is administered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) includes allocations of $16.87 million through the Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRF), with $1.44 million set aside to address emerging contaminants (ECs); and $30.6 million through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, with $7.64 million earmarked for projects addressing ECs. The EC funding may be used to address emerging contaminants such as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Read more.

‘Young Engineer’ Who Saw Washington Bridge Dangers Remains a Mystery

Date: February 23, 2024

According to the Providence Journal, the "young engineer" who spotted critical issues with the Washington Bridge stands to become a local hero – except that we still don't know who he is. Thanks to newly released records, however, we know that it was Andrew Prezioso, a structural engineer working for bridge-design contractor VHB, who presented the alarming findings to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

"Washington Bridge 700 Inspection – Critical Finding," read the subject line on an email that Prezioso sent at 1:40 p.m. on December 8. "Please see the link below to photos, inspection notes and a video of what was observed at Washington Bridge today," Prezioso wrote to RIDOT Project Manager Anthony Pompei, other RIDOT employees and a half-dozen other engineers. Anchor rods holding down parts of the bridge had "failed" in two exposed locations, Prezioso explained, and video showed the cantilever span "bouncing at the bearing."

"We don’t yet know if Prezioso was the original engineer who saw it – his title is structures team leader – but we do know he’s the one who put his name on the line to deliver the bad news," state Sen. Samuel Bell said. "It’s never easy to do. We know he deserves praise for taking that difficult step." Read more.

$12 Million Goes to Municipal Resilience Projects Across Rhode Island

Date: February 23, 2024

Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank recently announced $12 million in action grants for participants of the Municipal Resilience Program (MRP). Communities prioritized local actions through the program and will use grant funds to implement projects that will increase their climate resilience. Funding for these action grants comes from the 2022 voter-approved Green Bond, which provided for $16 million for municipal resilience projects and was part of Governor McKee's FY2023 budget.

"Investing in Rhode Island's communities isn’t just a prudent decision but a crucial step in securing a resilient future,” said Governor Dan McKee. “The impacts of flooding and storms have been wide-ranging throughout our state, but with this funding from the voter-approved Green Bond, we can mitigate those risks, improve our response, and adapt to meet the climate change challenge.”

The Green Bond directs $16 million to the MRP to help communities restore and improve vulnerable coastal habitats, river and stream floodplains, and infrastructure. It also includes $5 million for a small business energy loan program to provide zero-interest and below-market loans for clean energy projects. Read more.

EV Charging Stations Coming to Rhode Island Interstate Corridor

Date: January 19, 2024

The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources recently announced the start of construction on the state’s first two electric vehicle (EV) DC Fast Charging stations located along the Interstate 95 corridor, Uprise RI reports. The new charging stations will be installed at the Ashaway Park & Ride and the Route 117 Park & Ride in Warwick as part of Phase 1 of Rhode Island’s National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Program.

The Ashaway and Warwick Park & Ride locations will each house two DC Fast Chargers capable of charging an EV up to 80% in 20-40 minutes. The ultra-fast chargers are considered “future proof”, meaning they can charge new EVs coming to market for years to come. With many automakers pledging to go fully electric over the next 10-15 years, Rhode Island officials want to ensure adequate charging infrastructure is available across major travel corridors.

Chris Kearns, Acting State Energy Commissioner, noted the new chargers will complete Rhode Island’s designated Alternative Fuel Corridor along I-95. The completed corridor and convenient fast charging stations are expected to alleviate range anxiety and other concerns residents may have when considering an EV purchase. Read more.

$20M Issued for Pawtucket, Woonsocket Drinking Water Upgrades

Date: January 19, 2024

The Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank has closed on a $15 million loan to the city of Pawtucket and two loans to the city of Woonsocket totaling $5.5 million to finance drinking water infrastructure upgrades in the two cities, Providence Business News reports.

The loan to Pawtucket includes a $2.25 million forgiveness of principal. The $15 million from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund will finance water meter replacements.

Mayor Donald R. Grebien said the Infrastructure Bank’s below-market rates will allow the city to save more than $2.8 million in interest costs over the term of the loan. “Specifically, this loan will allow Pawtucket Water to install, at no cost to customers, advanced water meters that can detect leaks and inform customers about what they can do to better conserve water,” Grebien said. Read more.

Rhode Island Launches State-Specific Energy Savings Calculator

Date: December 14, 2023

Rhode Island leaders came together to launch the first state-specific energy calculator made by Rewiring America, WJAR reports.

US Senator Jack Reed, Governor Dan McKee, Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources and Rewiring America officials discussed the new calculator on December 11 at the United Way of Rhode Island’s Valley Street location. State leaders said the new tool helps homeowners and renters find out how much money they can save by taking advantage of new incentives.

State officials said that Rewiring America, an electrification nonprofit, created the calculator to help residents quickly estimate how much they can save on energy by leveraging multiple incentives on state and local level. Read more.

Rhode Island College is Poised to Become Leader in Cybersecurity

Date: December 14, 2023

Rhode Island College reports that a group of dignitaries recently converged on Sapinsley Hall in support of the launch of the Institute for Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies at the college.

Led by former US Representative and RIC alumnus Jim Langevin and housed in RIC’s School of Business, the institute is slated to become a national center of excellence in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other emerging technologies.

The mission of the Institute for Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies, Langevin says, is to “nurture, educate and train the next generation of leaders and innovators in cybersecurity,” to “become a hub for research, education and workforce development.” “This is not an endeavor that Rhode Island College will do on its own,” he says. “It will be a collaborative effort, pulling together the strength of public and private sectors and also college and universities and K-12 schools in the region.”

Beyond cybersecurity, the institute will be at the forefront of research, education and training in emerging technologies, such as biotechnology and quantum computing. The institute will also explore the limitless potential of AI. Read more.

URI Professor, PBS Kids Teaming to Break Down STEM Barriers

Date: December 14, 2023

The Westerly Sun reports that Sara Sweetman, associate professor of education at the University of Rhode Island, and the creators of the Emmy-nominated PBS Kids show “Elinor Wonders Why” are enlisting Elinor, a curious little bunny, and her friends Ari and Olive to help break down barriers that girls face in the STEM fields.

Thanks to a $3.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Sweetman will work with creators Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson to develop eight new 11-minute episodes of the popular animated show with the goal of improving boys’ and girls’ perceptions of female scientists and increasing their understanding of mixed-gender collaborations in STEM.

“I really want to shift the thinking about the gender equity role in terms of what we can do to build better collaboration between boys and girls starting at a young age,” said Sweetman, the principal investigator on the grant. “In the past, efforts have focused on getting women excited about STEM and providing opportunities for them to excel. I think doing those is great. But if we really want to have a gender diverse field in sciences, we need to work with both men and women.” Read more.

Rhode Island Delegation Delivers $3.8 Million for Port Infrastructure at Quonset

Date: November 15, 2023

US Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and US Representative Seth Magaziner recently announced $3.8 million in federal funding through the US Department of Transportation’s Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) to construct a ramp at the Port of Davisville’s Pier 1, Newport Buzz reports. This ramp will accommodate stern offload roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) vessels that carry automobiles and other wheeled cargo.

Quonset Development Corporation, which manages the Port of Davisville, is currently in the process of reconstructing the perimeter of Pier 1. The new award will support continued improvements to Pier 1, including the construction of a stern ramp that will accommodate a growing and diverse fleet of ro-ro vessels that are more commonly being used for cargo transfer due to a shortage of other kinds of transport vessels.

The Port of Davisville, Rhode Island’s only public port, is a key part of the Quonset Business Park, which is home to more than 200 companies and over 13,000 jobs. Last year, the delegation secured $11.25 million through PIDP to support upgrades to the port’s North Berth at Pier 1. In 2020, an additional $11.14 million was secured under PIDP for the first phase of improvements to Pier 1. Read more.

House Commission to Study Feasibility of Solar Panels on Highway Medians

Date: November 15, 2023

A new study commission is meeting this fall to investigate the idea of building ground-mounted solar arrays on the median strips found along interstate highways and Route 146, according to ecoRI News. As part of its authority, the commission, chaired by Rep. Robert Phillips (D-Woonsocket) who also sponsored the bill creating the panel in 2022, will also study and provide recommendations for solar carports in state parking lots and in other public locations.

In some ways median strips are the perfect sites for solar. Many are already relatively flat and ready for building thanks to interstate construction, and barring trees or wetlands, there isn’t much else that’s allowed to be placed on median strips. It is illegal for the public to tread on them.

A preliminary list compiled by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation identified 15 potential sites for solar placement along interstates, totaling about 330 acres. Building solar on all identified sites could provide more than 100 megawatts of renewable energy, using the latest solar density estimates from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Read more.

Rhode Island Energy to Issue Request for Proposals for Offshore Wind

Date: October 16, 2023

Rhode Island Energy is issuing a request for proposals (RFP) to solicit approximately 1200 megawatts of new offshore wind, according to Daily Energy Insider.

“Offshore wind is critical in advancing Rhode Island’s 100% renewable energy standard and Act on Climate objectives,” Governor Dan McKee said. “It’s more important than ever that we continue to push for new opportunities to expand offshore wind generation in Rhode Island while ensuring it is affordable for future generations.”

The new RFP will be released to coincide with offshore wind RFP procurement efforts in Massachusetts and Connecticut. This will drive a unique offshore wind industry opportunity and economies of scale across southern New England.

“Rhode Island has big clean energy aspirations and Rhode Island Energy is committed to helping achieve them,” Dave Bonenberger, president of Rhode Island Energy, said. “This new procurement can help advance the state’s clean energy goals and support achievement of Rhode Island’s emissions-reduction targets. We look forward to seeing how offshore wind developers can balance those goals with affordability and wider economic benefits for the state.”

The RFP is expected to be issued in October, with proposals due in early 2024. A potential selection is anticipated in summer 2024. Read more.

Governor Endorses State Climate Panel’s $2.6 Million Spending Plan

Date: October 16, 2023

Governor Dan McKee recently endorsed action by the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4) to approve a spending plan allocating $2.6 million across state partners to support Rhode Island’s implementation of the Act on Climate law.

The EC4 is the panel statutorily charged with assessing state efforts to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, catalyzing government agencies to do their part in cutting GHGs, and strengthening the resilience of Rhode Island communities to prepare for the effects of climate change. The EC4 received its first-ever direct funding in the state budget approved by the Rhode Island General Assembly and signed into law by Governor McKee in June.

“The funding allocated in this first-ever EC4 budget is a balanced distribution of funds to agencies with a good split between resilience and reducing carbon emissions, as well as a balance between direct program support, capacity building, and engagement,” said Terry Gray, the director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. “We look forward to working collaboratively across all the agencies and offices on the EC4 to implement these key investments.” Read more.

RI University Partners with National Guard on STEM Event

Date: October 16, 2023

Rhode Island University reports that a recent event at Quonset Air National Guard Base in North Kingstown showcased a partnership between the Rhode Island National Guard and URI’s College of Engineering to introduce young people to opportunities in the STEM fields.

It attracted 500 high school students and 100 college students from across the state. Seventy College of Engineering faculty, staff and students presented 16 engaging hands-on exhibits, joining additional exhibitors such as NASA, Space Force, and the Civil Air Patrol.

“The possibilities for students to make a positive impact on society through a career in STEM were on full display,” says College of Engineering Dean Anthony Marchese, “from building submarines and aircraft that protect our national security, to using autonomous vehicles that can disable explosives or explore the ocean depths.”

The program drew 12 local colleges and universities in total, with the largest presence from URI. The day ended with presentations of the Rhode Island National Guard Rhody Innovator Awards, recognizing students who have excelled in STEM areas in the classroom. Read more.

Rhode Island Receives $60.3 Million to Boost Roads, Bridges, and Infrastructure

Date: September 15, 2023

US Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, recently announced a $60.3 million boost for Rhode Island road and bridge work to help move transportation projects forward ahead of schedule, Newport Buzz reports.

The new money comes from the Federal Highway Administration’s annual August redistribution. Each year, FHWA shifts transportation funding authority from states unable to utilize the full amount of funding originally authorized to them, as well as from federal transportation grant and loan programs that were underutilized in the current fiscal year, to states that have shovel-ready projects and are able to utilize the funding before the close of the fiscal year, which ends on September 30.

“This extra $60.3 million in federal spending authority for Rhode Island road improvements and infrastructure upgrades is great news for the state. I commend Director Alviti for his strategic and cost-effective planning and management. His leadership of RIDOT is helping to modernize our transportation network. I know he and his team will put these federal funds to good use, completing projects and getting them done on budget and ahead of schedule,” said Senator Reed, who supported RIDOT’s request to the Federal Highway Administration. Read more.

NUWC Division Newport Program Teaches Students about Engineering

Date: September 15, 2023

When high school students arrive at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport each summer to work alongside scientists and engineers for the Undersea Technology Apprentice Program (UTAP), they usually don’t know each other or much about underwater robotics. That, according to DVIDS, changes quickly.

Held in two, three-week sessions, Monday through Thursday, in Division Newport's Undersea Collaboration and Technology Outreach Center, the 25 students in each session are randomly sorted into five teams of five students. Once in teams, the students assign themselves specific roles and responsibilities.

Each day from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., the students design, build, test and modify underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROV). Each team is provided a set of specifications to build a basic ROV with instructions from SeaPerch, an international program which UTAP is based upon. Teams are also given a budget for materials, which impacts how they design and make changes to their vehicles.

During the competition, each team member must spend an equal amount of time steering the vehicle. What makes maneuvering the ROV especially difficult during the competition is the tank is covered with a tarp, forcing the drivers to rely on a video feed captured by a camera the team attaches to their vehicle. Read more.

State Launches Applications for $20 Million Local Road Infrastructure Program

Date: August 14, 2023

Local cities and towns will now have the chance to apply for state funding to help cover costs of road, bridge and sidewalk repairs, the Providence Business News reports.

Governor Daniel J. McKee and other state officials, including from the RI Department of Transportation, recently announced that the state has launched its #RIReady Municipal Road Fund Program application process. The $20 million grant program, according to state officials, is available for local communities needing to make infrastructure improvements on locally maintained city and town roads.

McKee’s office says about 80%, or 5,000 miles, of roads within Rhode Island are maintained by local municipalities. According to recent data submitted by the Federal Highway Administration, close to half of all municipal roads are in poor condition.

Under the program, which is funded by the state’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act funds, each city and town provides two-thirds of the project costs – RIDOT takes care of the balance. With this investment, McKee’s office says the fund can make up to $60 million available for local road projects through October 2026. Read more.

Rhode Island Receives $6.6M for Clean Energy Efforts

Date: August 14, 2023

Clean energy, security, and resiliency efforts in Rhode Island are receiving an infusion of federal cash, The Center Square reports.

Rhode Island’s Office of Energy Resources is poised to receive $6.6 million from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to support administrative and program efforts in the department. Funding will also be put to work for energy security planning and enhancing the state’s electric grid.

The funding, according to a release, will assist Rhode Island in achieving Act on Climate goals. Rhode Island is receiving $3.4 million through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Grid Resilience State and Tribal Formula Grant Program and $3.2 million through the State Energy Program. Read more.

BEAD Funds Expand Rhode Island Broadband Access

Date: July 17, 2023

US Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse recently joined US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Governor Dan McKee, and local officials to announce $108.7 million in Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) funds for Rhode Island Broadband Access, the Warwick Post reports.

Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Liz Tanner, Newport Mayor Xaykham Khamsavoravong, and other state and local officials joined the celebration of the federal BEAD funding. The funds were deployed by the Biden Administration for Rhode Island to distribute to nonprofits, public-private partnerships, private companies, utilities, and local governments to ensure every Rhode Islander has access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet.

“In order to expand opportunity, we need to ensure that all Rhode Islanders have access to high-speed, reliable, affordable broadband service. This funding will help our state implement a coordinated strategy that ensures all of our communities are plugged in to Rhode Island’s digital infrastructure. By doing so, we can help folks feel more connected and close the digital divide,” said Reed. Read more.

New Law Will Improve Rhode Island’s EV Charging Infrastructure

Date: July 17, 2023

Legislation to better prepare Rhode Island for the rapid growth of electric vehicles on the state’s roadways has been signed into law, the Newport Buzz reports.

The legislation (2023-H 5159aa, 2023-S 0988aa), which passed the General Assembly and was signed into law by Governor Dan McKee in late June, requires that new and expanded parking lots built using any public funds include a certain percentage of electric vehicle charging stations.

Beginning January 1, 2024, new parking lots and lots that undergo an expansion of 50% or more parking spaces using public funds will be required to include electric vehicle charging stations with a specified ratio of parking spaces to minimum charging stations. Read more.

Rhode Island Awards Agricultural Energy Grants

Date: July 17, 2023

Rhode Island has awarded $59,250 in green energy grants for farmers, according to the Daily Energy Insider. The grants, funded through the Rhode Island Agricultural Energy Grant Program, will support project that help farmers move to greener agricultural operations, saving energy and money, officials said.

“Our farmers in Rhode Island play an essential role in providing the state with fresh, locally sourced products,” Governor Dan McKee said. “We must continue to support our local farmers and provide them the resources needed for implementing clean energy projects. I am very happy to announce the next round of grant winners for the Agricultural Energy Grant program. These farms have converted to energy efficient equipment that will help lower their energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint.”

Grants included $20,000 for Hattoy’s Nursery and Garden Center in Coventry, RI for a 1353 kW rooftop solar project to offset 100% of the farm and landscaping company’s energy consumption; $20,000 for Walnut and Willow Farm in Lincoln, RI for a 6.84 kW rooftop solar project to offset 93% of the farm’s total energy consumption; and $19,250 for Wicked Tiny Farms in Narragansett, RI to install a mini-split and multi-zone non-ducted heat pump system that will save an estimated 200 gallons of oil used by the farm. Read more.

Rhode Island Lawmakers OK Lead Pipe Replacement Bill

Date: June 21, 2023

A bill that would require the replacement of lead pipes across Rhode Island over the next decade has been approved by state lawmakers, The Westerly Sun reports.

The bill that passed the House would create a lead water supply replacement program for both public and private service lines, with a requirement that all affected lines be replaced within 10 years. The Senate previously approved the bill.

Under the bill, financial assistance for lead pipe replacement would be provided through the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, including no-cost options for property owners. To help develop the state’s workforce, the legislation would set requirements for water suppliers and contractors to participate in apprenticeship programs.

The bill would require water suppliers to create a service line inventory no later than October 16, 2024, to determine the existence or absence of lead within each water connection in its service area. It would also establish new notification and reporting requirements for suppliers to ensure transparency in the identification and replacement of service lines containing lead. The bill would also require a lead risk assessment be conducted for any home built before 2011 as part of any transaction involving the property. Currently, those assessments are required only for homes built prior to 1978. Read more.

East Providence Green Energy Partnership Aims to Save $670k Annually

Date: June 21, 2023

The City of East Providence has signed a 25 year agreement with Green Development LLC, a green energy project developer based in Cranston, ABC6 reports.

The agreement is part of the Rhode Island Virtual Net Metering program and will allow the city, school district, and housing authority to save significant amounts on energy bills while growing renewable energy sources in the state.

The agreement comes alongside plans for a solar canopy at the city’s police facility which will include electric vehicle charging stations. The city expects the agreement to save the city $670,000 annually on energy costs, with a lifetime savings of $18.5 million.

“The long-term agreement will help us achieve our clean energy goals while enabling us to devote a greater portion of our budgets to programs and services that serve East Providence residents,” Mayor Bob DaSilva said. Read more.

US Energy Secretary Says Block Island Wind Farm is Nation’s Model

Date: June 21, 2023

The Block Island Wind Farm should serve as a model for the rest of the country, US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters during a tour of the first-in-the-nation offshore wind facility, according to The Providence Journal.

“We want to replicate this, even bigger, all up and down the Atlantic seaboard, but also in the Pacific and in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Great Lakes,” Granholm said, standing aboard a ferry that rolled gently in the ocean swells. “We want to be able to generate clean energy all across America.”

Granholm was joined by elected officials including Governor Dan McKee, Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Representative Seth Magaziner, as well as representatives from Ørsted, which owns the wind farm. Only three of the five turbines were spinning: Routine maintenance will be taking place throughout the summer, while there are lighter winds and calmer conditions, Ørsted representatives said.

Ørsted is also behind the South Fork Wind Farm, which is under construction. Spokeswoman Meaghan Wims said the project is approaching “steel in the water” – the wind-farm equivalent of “cranes in the sky” or “shovels in the ground.” In fact, as the Rhode Island Fast Ferry sped toward Block Island, the Living Stone, a cable-laying ship deployed on the South Fork project, could be seen on the horizon. Read more.

Work Has Started on Major Offshore Wind Farm That Would Power Rhode Island

Date: May 15, 2023

The developers of Rhode Island’s first utility-scale offshore wind farm are still waiting on approvals for the 704-megawatt project, The Providence Journal reports, but that’s not stopping them from starting work on pieces of it.

Ørsted and Eversource welcomed Governor Dan McKee, the Rhode Island congressional delegation and other officials to the Port of Providence to mark the beginning of fabrication of some of the key components of the towering wind turbines that will be installed in the waters between Block Island and Martha’s Vineyard as part of Revolution Wind.

The companies set up shop a year and a half ago in the port, where they built a regional hub that is supplying parts to a host of wind farms planned off southern New England.

First up for the facility was the South Fork Wind Farm, a 130-megawatt, 12-turbine array already under construction that will help power Long Island. Now comes Revolution, the 65-turbine project that would deliver energy to Rhode Island and Connecticut. Sunrise Wind, an 880-megawatt proposal to also supply New York, is expected to follow. And, if all goes as planned, a second, even bigger phase of Revolution would come. Read more.

Phase 1 of Rhode Island’s EV Charging Program Opens

Date: May 15, 2023

The first steps in Rhode Island’s initiative to support electric vehicles are taking shape, The Center Square reports.

The state’s Office of Energy Resources is now accepting requests for proposals that would install electric vehicle charging stations near Interstate 95. The first phase would install four Level 3 DC Fast Chargers off the Alternative Fuel Corridor along the interstate. The charging stations would be located at the Ashaway Park & Ride and Route 117 Park & Ride in Warwick.

“As Rhode Island works toward achieving the goals of the landmark Act on Climate, this National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program will play a crucial role in ensuring our state continues its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Governor Dan McKee said in a statement.

The program is a piece of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and is designed to install 500,000 charging stations for electric vehicles across the country by 2030. Rhode Island is poised to receive $23 million in federal funding over the course of five years, according to a release. Proposals for the program are due by May 22. Read more.

Rhode Island Kicks Off 2023 Construction Season

Date: April 19, 2023

Rhode Island officially kicked off the 2023 construction season on April 13, reports.

“Construction season is officially underway and this is going to be a busy one thanks to the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law we passed,” said US Senator Jack Reed in a statement.

[Projects are] starting a year ahead because of the $1.7 billion funding the state received through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. “Across Rhode Island, federal funds are being put to work improving our bridges and roads, and modernizing our transportation infrastructure,” he said.

Reed, along with Governor Dan McKee and the Department of Transportation, launched the I-95 Resurfacing Project in Richmond. The $19.3 million project will resurface both directions of I-95 — from Connecticut state lone in Hopkinton to the Baker Pines Bridge in Richmond — will be resurfaced, covering almost 18 miles of the interstate highway. Read more.

Rhode Island Program Would Make $20 Million Available For Infrastructure Projects

Date: April 19, 2023

The proposed RIReady Municipal Road Fund Program in Governor Dan McKee’s fiscal year 2024 budget would make available $20 million for bridge, road, and sidewalk projects on locally maintained city and town roads, according to Transportation Today.

Local communities often struggle to reach enough capital improvement funds in their budgets to maintain transportation infrastructure properly. The program would provide 33 percent of project costs.

Of the $20 million, $15 million will be divided equally among cities and towns, with the remaining $5 million distributed proportionally to municipalities based on miles of roads. There would be a quarterly reporting requirement and other accountability measures. The program would use federal American Rescue Plan funds, and projects would need to be completed by the end of 2026. Approximately 5,000 miles, 80% of the state’s road miles, are maintained by cities and towns. Nearly half of municipal roads are in poor condition, according to the most recent annual pavement data submitted to the Federal Highway Administration. Read more.

RIDOT Studying Faster, Cleaner Electric Trains

Date: March 17, 2023

At a time when cars, buses and kitchen stoves are going electric, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter rail trains still chug along behind diesel locomotives, even on wired Providence Line tracks shared with Amtrak.

Now Rhode Island leaders who have talked about the benefits of speeding commutes to Boston for years are taking some steps to bring faster electric trains to the Providence Line. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation and the MBTA have applied for a $3-million federal grant to study what it would take to go electric on the Providence Line, The Providence Journal reports.

"The full electrification of that route between Providence and Boston will benefit Rhode Island in that it will speed up the train service and ... allow for additional routes, more frequent routes to Boston," Rhode Island DOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. told senators in his confirmation hearing. "It will be a faster ride between Providence and Boston that we think will increase the number of people who take the train instead of driving their cars on the I-95 corridor, and would have very positive impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions." Read more.

Orsted A/S and Eversource Energy Submit Joint Wind Farm Proposal

Date: March 17, 2023

Familiar names in Rhode Island offshore wind are vying for a contract to bring even more offshore wind energy to the Ocean State, the Rhode Island Current reports.

Orsted A/S and Eversource Energy are proposing an 884-megawatt wind farm off the coast of Block Island, within the same federal lease area as the 100-turbine project they are already developing for Rhode Island and Connecticut. The proposed Revolution Wind 2 project was submitted in response to a competitive solicitation from utility operator Rhode Island Energy seeking to buy up to 1,000 megawatts of offshore wind power.

Rhode Island Energy declined to share any details on other proposals received by the March 13 deadline. The utility operator plans to work with state energy and utility leaders to review proposals and select a bid for negotiation by June, according to a timeline posted in the company website.

The procurement to buy 1,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy for the state was first announced by Governor Daniel J. McKee in October as the state strives to meet mandatory emissions reductions benchmarks under the 2021 Act on Climate Law. Read more.

Will Coastal Resilience Projects Bring Relief to Rhode Island?

Date: March 17, 2023

As Rhode Island's tides continue to rise, so do the stakes. The climate crisis is affecting the state at an alarming rate as our shorelines creep inland by nearly two feet per year, significantly higher than the global average, according to an opinion column in The Providence Journal.

The good news is, some relief is on the way for the Ocean State. Last year, our coastal communities received a much-needed boost thanks to the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which opened the door to historic funding for coastal resilience projects that will help our state weather some of the worst climate impacts.

As new investments come, it's crucial that the most at-risk communities are first-in-line to receive funds to shore up their shorelines. This new funding couldn't come at a better time. We are seeing increased flooding, larger waves, and more severe, frequent nor'easters — all of which are chipping away at our coasts. Homes have collapsed into the sea and important infrastructure like the roads we rely on every day have become more susceptible to flooding. Read more.

State Awarded Another $55.9M in Federal Infrastructure Funds

Date: February 10, 2023

Rhode Island will receive an additional $55.9 million in federal funding for public transportation, Providence Business News reports. The funding, part of the $21 billion infrastructure law, will help the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority expand service and renovate the transit tunnel from North Main Street to Thayer Street on the East Side of Providence, RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian said.

“We are grateful for the continued support from our congressional delegation, who never stop championing for investments in public transit,” Avedisian said. “These funds will be used to modernize and upgrade our vehicles and facilities, making transit more resilient and sustainable.”

This latest award is part of an estimated $292 million in transit formula funding that the Ocean State is slated to receive over the next five years. It will help public transit agencies invest in expanding service, job training and new low- and no-emission buses. Read more.

Rhode Island Grants to Focus on Downtowns

Date: February 10, 2023

A new round of state grants focused on downtowns are now up for grabs in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Commerce will administer Site Readiness and Main Street Rhode Island Streetscape Improvement grant funding to spur local economic development around the state, The Center Square reports.

The programs, according to the release, will partner municipalities and developers in an effort to fund technical assistance and site-specific planning and improvements. Eligible projects include property and engineering surveys, environmental studies, site clearing or demolition, infrastructure improvements, and training for zoning board members, and grant writing.

Municipalities and economic development agencies will be able to apply for competitive grants that would be used to improve commercial districts, including sidewalk projects, street furniture, and way-finding signage. Funds can also be used to upgrade facades and improve street lighting. In addition, those projects must be walkable and attract residents and visitors. Read more.

Town of Smithfield (RI) Honored for QBS Commitment

Date: January 20, 2023

The Township of Smithfield, Rhode Island, received a QBS Award for championing the use of qualifications-based selection procurement. The Town of Smithfield has been utilizing qualifications-based selection consistently since 2007 for professional engineering services. Smithfield residents have benefited by receiving design services from the most qualified consultants in building, preserving, and rehabilitating the town’s infrastructure.

NSPE and ACEC cosponsor the awards program to recognize organizations that promote and make exemplary use of QBS methods to procure the professional services of consulting engineers at the federal, state, or local level. These public and private entities serve as examples of how well the QBS process works, and also promote the practice in jurisdictions that do not use, or underuse, QBS to procure engineering services. Learn more about NSPE’s position on the QBS process.

Infrastructure Bank Releases Municipal Resilience Program Rolling Application

Date: January 20, 2023

The Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank has released a rolling application for its Municipal Resilience Program. Municipalities with approved applications will participate in a workshop process to identify and prioritize local actions through the program and become eligible for grant funding to implement projects that increase climate resilience.

“Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank is committed to accelerating investments in municipal resilience projects that better prepare our cities and towns for the impacts of a changing climate” said Jeffrey R. Diehl, CEO of Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, in a news release. “The Municipal Resilience Program supports cities and towns in identifying and funding priority resilience projects, with a particular focus on projects delivering co-benefits, such as nature-based solutions and benefitting disadvantaged communities.”

Municipalities can apply individually or in partnership with a neighboring municipality. Review of incoming MRP Participation Applications will take place quarterly, and applicants can expect responses approximately eight weeks after application submission. Read more.

Rhode Island Ranks in Top 10 for Energy Efficiency

Date: December 19, 2022

As Americans struggle to pay rising energy bills, leading states have instituted energy efficiency policies that cut utility bills—especially for those who need it most—while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to the 2022 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. These policies can serve as models for the dozens of states that have yet to prioritize energy-saving upgrades to reduce costs for disadvantaged households, according to a news release.

California comes in first place in the 50-state scorecard (which also includes Washington, DC) from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Rounding out the top 10 are Massachusetts (#2), New York (#3), Vermont (#4), Maine (#5), Washington, DC (#6), Maryland and Rhode Island (tied at #7), Connecticut (#9), and Minnesota (#10). The scorecard ranks states in six policy areas: utility programs, transportation, building energy codes, state initiatives, industrial energy efficiency, and appliance standards.

Year One of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Date: December 19, 2022

The Biden Administration recently updated state and territory fact sheets that highlight the nationwide impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the largest long-term investment infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century. To date, over $1 billion in funding has been announced and is headed to Rhode Island with over 30 specific projects identified for funding. Access information about Rhode Island projects here.

Rhode Island Ranks in Top Ten for Access to Electric Charging Stations

Date: November 15, 2022

Rhode Island was recently ranked 10th among US states with the most access to electric vehicle charging stations, according to, with more than 2,550 registered EVs in the state. That represents more than a 155% increase. Before September 2020, 103 charging stations had been opened; after that date, 160 more opened in Rhode Island. Additionally, the state’s Public Transit Authority is piloting an electric bus system to increase green practices in transportation. Read more.

Defense Tech Alliance to Keep Building Subs

Date: November 15, 2022

SENEDIA, the national alliance for defense tech, talent, and innovation based in Middletown, has announced a $20.4 million contract extension from the Department of Defense to continue its submarine shipbuilding workforce efforts.

“While we are making tremendous progress training the next generation to support our nation’s modern military, this funding extension is essential to continue to grow our high-skilled, high-wage workforce pipeline and build out the New England region virtual training network,” said Molly Magee, SENEDIA executive director. Magee added the entity’s leaders look forward to strengthening its shipbuilding partnerships in Rhode Island and Connecticut and expanding to other states.

SENEDIA was originally awarded $18.6 million in 2020 to help facilitate the submarine shipbuilding supply chain. Read more.

Wind Energy Supply Chain Hub Under Construction

Date: October 20, 2022

Construction has begun on the South Quay Marine Terminal project. When completed, this terminal will become a game-changing wind turbine staging area, creating a central hub for the Northeast’s growing offshore wind economy.

With prime access to New England, Canada, and the US Midwest markets, South Quay will help streamline the offshore wind supply chain in Rhode Island and support the growth of the offshore wind industry.  

“Rhode Island is a leader in offshore wind and this critical investment continues to ensure that our state remains at the center of this key industry,” said Governor Dan McKee in a news release. The project is being paid for with funds from the American Rescue Plan.

EPA Honors Rhode Islanders Who Innovate to Protect the Environment

Date: October 20, 2022

The Environmental Protection Agency has recognized four individuals and two organizations in Rhode Island for helping to improve New England’s environment. Twenty annual Environmental Merit Awards were given out in total to recipients across the region.

In Rhode Island, lifetime achievement awards went to: Judith Swift, the retiring director of the University of Rhode Island Coastal Institute, who worked to improve local ecosystems; George Loomis, who leveraged scientific knowledge to advance the onsite wastewater treatment system field; and Meg Kerr, a marine biologist and advocate for the environmental movement.

Brian Byrnes, deputy superintendent of Providence Parks and Recreation, was recognized for his leadership at the Providence Stormwater Innovation Center and his efforts to demonstrate the use of green infrastructure, reduce stormwater impacts, and monitor the results of improved watershed water quality.

Barnaby Evans and Peter Mello, of WaterFire Providence, were honored for helping to raise $700,000 in state and federal brownfields funding for redevelopment for Woonasquatucket River Valley neighborhoods.

Jeff Diehl, CEO of the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, was recognized because he helped secure funds for environmental projects and led the development of Resilient Rhody, a statewide climate resilience strategy. Read more.

Rhode Island Secures Approval for EV Charging Infrastructure Plan

Date: September 21, 2022

Governor Dan McKee and the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4) announced on September 15 that Rhode Island has received approval of its plan for electric vehicle infrastructure deployment, which the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) filed with the federal government in July.

As part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), RIDOT will receive $3.8 million in federal fiscal year 2023, and $22.9 million over the next five years under the Federal Highway Administration’s National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program. “Electric vehicle charging station infrastructure is a critical component of our plan to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector to achieve the objectives of the Act on Climate,” said Governor Dan McKee in a news release. “This federal funding will help us expand our existing network of electric vehicle charging stations, making it easier than ever for electric vehicle drivers to find a place to charge.” Read more.

Public Comment Period for Offshore Wind RFP

Date: September 21, 2022

A public comment period for a drafted offshore wind procurement request for proposals is open through October 7. Rhode Island Energy is administering the RFP and will issue the procurement to the market no later than October 15.

In July, Governor Dan McKee signed into law historic clean energy legislation that seeks to expand Rhode Island’s offshore wind energy resources. The RFP calls for an additional 600 to 1,000 MW of offshore wind, which has the potential to meet at least 30% of the state’s estimated 2030 electricity demand. This electricity from the project has the potential to power about 340,000 homes each year. When added to the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm and the planned 400 MW Revolution Wind project, about half of the state’s project energy needs will be powered by offshore wind.

The draft RFP and instructions on how to submit comment can be accessed here.

Clean Water Act Allegedly Violated by Textile Mill

Date: September 21, 2022

The nonprofit group Environment Rhode Island announced that it has filed a lawsuit against Kenyon Industries Inc., and its parent company, Brookwood Companies Incorporated, for alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act at their textile mill in Kenyon, Rhode Island.

Kenyon operates a textile manufacturing facility that straddles the Pawcatuck River in southern Rhode Island, less than a quarter mile upstream of Horseshoe Falls. Environment Rhode Island seeks to put an end to what it says is more than a decade of illegal discharges from the facility into the river. The complaint alleges that the mill has repeatedly violated the Clean Water Act, routinely discharging wastewater with more than two-and-a-half times the permitted concentrations of copper, a toxic pollutant.

“Requiring Kenyon to take the steps necessary to achieve compliance with its mandatory pollution limits, like every other company is required to do, will help improve water quality downstream of the facility and ensure the entire river lives up to its pristine reputation,” an Environment Rhode Island spokesperson said. Read more.

State’s First Utility-Scale Battery Storage System Opens in Pascoag

Date: August 17, 2022

Governor Dan McKee touted the recent installation of the state’s first utility-scale battery storage system as being an important step for Rhode Island in combatting climate change. The Pascoag Utility District and the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources announced the official opening of the facility in the PUD in mid-August.

“This battery technology, which allows for the storage of energy and deploys it when it is most needed, is a vital link in our state’s transition to a 100% clean electricity grid by 2033,” he said in a news release. Additionally, the facility should ensure reliability for electricity customers.

Agilitas Energy installed and currently operates the 3 MW battery facility from a leased industrial site in Pascoag. The battery energy storage system went into commercial operation in early July 2022 and has already begun to help PUD lower its peak load during times of highest usage, the governor’s office reports.

Providence Schools to Get Upgrades for STEM, 21st Century Learning

Date: August 17, 2022

This year, 30 schools in Providence will receive much-needed renovations to give students a 21st Century environment in which to learn, The Providence Journal reports. Recently, for example, ground was broken on a $21-million renovation at William D’Abate Elementary School. The construction will include combined arts and science labs, air-conditioning, an elevator, and other upgrades that will add 6,000 square feet to the building.

The renovations were funded by $250 million school construction bond passed by voters four years ago.

An additional $300 million bond will be voted on in November for school upgrades, including incentives for technical education facilities and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) facilities.

“Students want to learn ... when they have 21st-century buildings,” Superintendent of Schools Javier Montañez said.

Airport Connector Project Breaks Ground

Date: July 20, 2022

Ground has been broken on the Airport Connector Project, which is aimed at making the ride safer for travelers to and from the airport, according to the Newport Buzz.

Not only will the one-mile Airport Connector and three miles of Route 1 and Route 1A (Post Road) receive new pavement, but the project also eliminates hazardous drop-offs and includes new high visibility pavement markers. Pedestrian access on Post Road will be upgraded with new sidewalks and pedestrian ramps. A massive landscaping project will also add trees and greenery.

“Many more job-creating upgrades to Rhode Island’s roads, bridges, and airports are on the way thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure bill we passed in Washington,” said US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

Gas Company Seeks Full Authorization for LNG Plant

Date: July 20, 2022

Rhode Island Energy (formerly known as Narragansett Electric Co.) is seeking a full license for a liquified natural gas plant it has been operating for three winters under an emergency waiver, Providence Business First reports. The LNG plant in Portsmouth is Rhode Island Energy’s preferred solution under new ownership, a spokesperson for the utility said.

The company will appear before the Energy Facility Siting Board in late July in its quest for permanent authorization for the facility, which received its waiver from EFSB in 2019 after an Aquidneck Island left thousands without gas.

LNG is used by the company during spikes in demand in the coldest months. The facility has been controversial, receiving criticism from neighbors and clean energy groups.

DOE Funding Supports Partnerships with URI Ocean Engineering

Date: July 20, 2022

The University of Rhode Island has one of the best ocean engineering programs in the country, according to College Factual. With the engineering program’s recent acceptance into the US Department of Energy’s Testing Expertise and Access for Marine Energy Research program, known as TEAMER, companies can take advantage of URI’s research facilities and expertise without being charged a fee, according to a news release.

The acoustic tank is 7.5 meters long, 4 meters wide, 3.3 meters deep. It is used for experimentation with hydrophones, underwater camera calibrations, and autonomous and remote operated marine robotics testing.

Technology developers may use URI’s wave-current flume, wave tank and acoustic tank to conduct tests. TEAMER will reimburse URI for research that costs up to $150,000 per project, with projects scheduled for a nine-month period. Read more.

State Initiative Will Streamline Efforts to Gain Infrastructure Funds

Date: June 16, 2022

Governor Dan McKee recently unveiled a strategic initiative with the Partnership for Rhode Island called CompeteRI, which will help state agencies, municipalities, and nonprofits more effectively compete for federal funding made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The announcement was held at South Quay, an undeveloped parcel in East Providence that will soon become a central hub of the Northeast’s growing offshore wind economy.

Compete RI is the state’s response to the White House asking states to create processes that are sound and transparent; and to seek partners to administer and coordinate efforts in seeking federal funding.

“We have a historic opportunity to rebuild Rhode Island’s infrastructure,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos in a release. “That’s why it’s so important that we coordinate resources and efforts to ensure these critical projects have the greatest impact and that they benefit every Rhode Islander, in every community.” Find out more.

Governor Announces $850k EPA Grant to Work for Cleaner Air

Date: June 16, 2022

In a move aimed at reducing air pollution caused by diesel engines, Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management announced an EPA grant will be used to replace freight trucks and marine engines used to move goods.

The funding is coming through the Diesel Emission Reduction Act Program, a federal-state initiative run by EPA and state environmental agencies that protects human health and improves air quality by reducing harmful emissions from diesel engines.

“Rhode Island is a national leader in clean energy innovation and this EPA grant will further our Administration’s goal of slashing greenhouse gases as we put Rhode Island on a more sustainable pathway to a future of net-zero emissions,” said Governor McKee. Read more.

Governor Announces New Modern Transit Hub

Date: May 18, 2022

Governor Dan McKee announced on May 12 that the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) has taken the first step in making the proposed Dorrance Street Transit Center in Downtown Providence a reality, according to a news release. The process, which began with the state transit agency publishing an on-line "Request for Expressions of Interest" (REOI) is designed to tap the expertise of private developers across the country for bold, innovative ideas to guide the construction and operations of the new facility.

The Dorrance Street Transit Center will replace Kennedy Plaza as RIPTA's central bus depot. The proposal envisions a mixed-use development that will include an enclosed intermodal transit center and RIPTA administrative offices, as well as an adjacent mixed-use transit-oriented development (TOD). In contrast to the current sprawling footprint of Kennedy Plaza, spread out across an urban park, the Transit Center will provide a single organized location.

The REOI invites interested parties from the private sector to submit concepts for the development of the new Transit Center under a joint development or public-private-partnership ("P3") arrangement. The REOI is designed to gauge initial industry interest in the development opportunity, as well as to seek industry perspective and feedback on diverse project considerations. From there, the responses will help RIPTA plan and execute the project. Read more.

U of Rhode Island Partnership Makes Impact on Research and Workforce Development

Date: May 18, 2022

When the National Institute for Undersea Vehicle Technology (NIUVT) was formed in 2017 as a partnership of the University of Rhode Island, the University of Connecticut, and General Dynamics Electric Boat, it created collaborative opportunities in applied research, technology transition and workforce development.

"The institute educates individuals for the shipbuilding industry, transitioning not only technologies, but a solid knowledge-base to further advance the next generation and next platforms of undersea vehicles," said Arun Shukla, the institute's co-director of NIUVT and URI Simon Ostrach Professor of Mechanical, Industrial, and Systems Engineering, in a URI News article.

The National Institute for Undersea Vehicle Technology has had a profound impact on the local economy by preparing students for defense-related careers, providing further education for those working in the defense industry, and partnering with governmental agencies and companies that have defense contracts.

More than $16 million has been awarded to URI for institute research projects and workforce development, including $5.5 million for 20 projects this year. Funding for this year's projects was approved on April 12.

When the institute was created, 12 technical areas were identified as having strategic importance to the Navy with regard to undersea vehicle technologies. URI and UConn have a rich history of research and collaboration with the Navy in these areas. All five of URI's engineering departments—chemical; civil and environmental; electrical, computer and biomedical; mechanical, industrial and systems; and ocean engineering—are represented in the collaborative’s research projects. Read more.

RI Ready Poised to Bring Jobs to State with Pre-Engineered Sites

Date: April 19, 2022

RI Ready, based upon the successful model of the Quonset Business Park, is a $40 million initiative to bring jobs and revenue to Rhode Island. The program has at least six applications so far, reports. Five of these will be considered this month.

The RI Ready program provides pre-permitted, pre-engineered sites that are “shovel-ready.”

That model has generated more than 3,500 jobs and $664 million in private investment at Quonset. RI Ready will help to cut through red tape in the development process to help business development move quickly.

Sites will be considered eligible if they:

  • Allow for upgraded or improved infrastructure in support of an industrial use; or
  • Allow an existing industrial use or facility to expand significantly; or
  • Are approximately 10 acres in size (or are capable of supporting an approximately 100,000 s/f building);
  • Are zoned for industrial or offshore wind support uses, and;
  • Are within one mile of a roadway designated by the state to support industrial traffic.

New ‘Hearing’ Textile Could Have Medical Uses

Date: April 19, 2022

Researchers at MIT and the Rhode Island School of Design have successfully created a fabric that “hears” and sends electric signals in response to sound, similar to how the human ear hears. The tech, called piezoelectric material, has many possible applications to products for collaborators like the health care field and hospitals, according to

The research was supported in part by the US Army Research Office through the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, National Science Foundation and Sea Grant NOAA.

RIPTA Will Use Geofencing Technology to Increase Ridership

Date: March 14, 2022

A grant awarded to the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority will help launch a free fare program to facilitate the collection of ridership and other data to inform future fare incentive programs, both in Rhode Island and nationally, according to

Geofencing, a new, evolving technology, holds interest for the authority because it could open the door to targeted marketing efforts to increase use of public transportation. The technology could allow individual businesses or entities such as social service agencies to sponsor ridership in specific, limited areas.

The grant was one of 25 Accelerating Innovative Mobility grants from the Federal Transit Administration.

Smart Bay Initiatives Could Help “Blue Economy”

Date: March 14, 2022

Data-collecting infrastructure could be set up in Narragansett Bay to support Rhode Island’s “blue economy,” which comprises seven sub-industries: defense, marine trades, fisheries, offshore renewable energy, ports and shipping, tourism and recreation, and aquaculture, a Navy spokesperson said at a recent briefing.

The venture, known as “Smart Bay,” would make Narragansett Bay “transparent” through data streams from underwater communications, underwater GPS, high-resolution bathymetry and sonar imaging, distributed temperature and environmental sensing, underwater video, and localization devices. Data can be collected via these methods at various “Smart Bay hubs” and made accessible to industry, academia, and government. Read more.

Coalition Calls for Rhode Island to Transition to Clean Energy Economy

Date: February 16, 2022

A new report by the Climate Jobs Rhode Island coalition and researchers from Cornell recommends actions to address climate change, the pandemic, and inequality within the state, the Boston Globe reports.

The coalition recommends utilizing wind energy, "decarbonizing" schools, building 35,000 affordable "net zero" housing units by 2035, and modernizing the state's electrical grid. The report also advocates for the creation of a wage board to set a minimum wage for the renewable energy industry. Read the report here.

Mystic Aquarium Will Educate Middle Schoolers This Spring

Date: February 16, 2022

Funded by a mini grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Mystic Aquarium's Ocean Exploration Adventure will advance ocean exploration educational opportunities for 200 underserved eighth grade students and educators from two majority-minority middle schools in Cranston, Rhode Island.

STEAM educators will participate in online and in-person professional development in partnership with NOAA Ocean Exploration and implement ocean exploration activities with their students. Live events with diverse career role models and field trips to explore Narragansett Bay, the University of Rhode Island's Inner Space Center, and Mystic Aquarium's Marine National Monument exhibit will round out the student experience this spring.

NSPE Career Center

Date: February 16, 2022

NSPE's Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today's top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Job
Marine/Waterfront Project Manager
North Kingstown, RI

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Allocates Millions for Bridge Repairs in Rhode Island

Date: January 19, 2022

Under President Biden’s infrastructure plan that infuses $26.5 billion into bridge repair across the US, Rhode Island will receive $235.5 million. The funds will come over five years via the Federal Highway Administration. Aside from making much-needed repairs, a major goal of the funding is to help bridges withstand the effects of climate change by modernizing them, FHWA Administrator Stephanie Pollack said.

Amtrak Trains Could Soon Stop at TF Green Airport

Date: January 19, 2022

Rhode Island’s Department of Transportation has started a $3.5 million preliminary engineering study for a project to enable Amtrak trains that currently pass through T.F. Green International Airport's “Interlink” station to stop there, the Providence Journal reported. The study is being funded by a $2.8 million federal grant and a $700,000 state match.

A 2020 study by DOT determined the project would cost at least $242 million, and costs have since increased. Still, transportation officials want to move forward. Work needed would include building new signals, a second platform, and a fourth track, and electrifying existing track.

Infrastructure Law Funds Bridge and Road Repair, Transportation Upgrades

Date: December 15, 2021

The federal bipartisan infrastructure law will pay to repair and rebuild roads and bridges in Rhode Island with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians. In Rhode Island, there are 148 bridges and over 860 miles of highway in poor condition, according to the Department of Transportation. The state is expected to receive approximately $1.7 billion over five years in federal highway formula funding for highways and bridges.

In addition, $292 million over five years will be spent on improving public transportation in Rhode Island. Funding will also cover modernization of freight rail, increased EV charging options, airport improvements, and other infrastructure updates.

Site Investigation Finds Minimal Pollutants at Old Landfill Site

Date: December 15, 2021

A report has shown that the environmental impact at the former Albion Town Landfill is very minimal. The pollutant levels were much lower than anticipated, reports the Valley Breeze. This is good news for town officials who plan to repurpose the land on the Blackstone River.

GZAGeo Environmental Inc. conducted the site investigation as part of a conservation plan. The site was last used as a dump in the mid-1980s. The land will be capped and reused, either for solar or recreational uses.

Roads, Bridges Improve; Miles to Go

Date: November 17, 2021

Across Rhode Island, bridge and road improvement projects are in the works thanks to RhodeWorks, a program implemented in 2016. RhodeWorks put in a place a data-driven approach to improving roads and bridges, such as the George Washington Bridge, which is undergoing a $78 million repair project that will take five years. When completed, the project will greatly ease traffic congestion.

Officials say these changes are undeniably positive, but that more progress is still needed, The Public’s Radio reports. With the passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, Rhode Island will receive $1.7 billion to help fund ongoing road and bridge improvements, and $280 million for public transportation.

Infrastructure Bank OKs $11M Loan for Warwick Sewer Lines

Date: November 17, 2021

Sewer lines in Warwick will be expanded thanks to an $11 million loan from the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, according to the Providence Business Journal. Work under the project will include connecting 900 homes that currently use septic systems and cesspools to sewer lines.

In the works for years, the project has stalled several times due to funding issues. The line of credit from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund means the expansion will be complete by August 2023. Additionally, Warwick Sewer Authority executive director BettyAnne Rogers said in an email to the Journal, sewer construction will protect Narragansett Bay from pollution.

Maritime Logistics Company Opens Energy Office in Cambridge

Date: October 19, 2021

Crowley Maritime Corporation, a global leader in maritime logistics, has established an energy headquarters in Providence to support the growing wind energy presence on the East Coast and nationwide, the Providence Business Journal reports. The new office at the Cambridge Innovation Center will house about a dozen top staffers under Crowley New Energy, and the company plans to keep hiring in Rhode Island. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, Crowley was established in 1892 as a marine transport firm. The privately held company now operates around the world and offers diverse services, including shipping, engineering, and logistics.

Rhode Island to Invest $8.5 Million in Clean Energy, Efficiency Thanks to Climate Pact

Date: October 19, 2021

The Office of Energy Resources has written its latest draft plan for allocating $8.5 million in proceeds from the Rhode Island Regional auction in which power plants paid for the right to pollute. Such auctions were developed under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an 11-state cap-and-trade program aimed at decreasing carbon emissions to fight climate change, the Providence Business Journal reports. OER outlined plans to invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other climate and consumer plans. The proposals are released every six months.

EPA Completes Hazardous Waste Cleanup on Superfund Site

Date: September 13, 2021

The Environmental Protection Agency has completed a hazardous waste cleanup at the Stamina Mills Removal Site in North Smithfield. It is part of the Stamina Mills Superfund Site, which has undergone a larger ongoing cleanup and redevelopment project. A former textile mill located on the site closed in 1975. In 1969, an unknown amount of trichloroethylene was spilled there.

The focus of the completed clean-up was the demolition of the former Mill Office Building, which was contaminated with asbestos and had a collapsed roof. This immediate threat to public health led to EPA’s cleanup of the site, which began last fall.

The project involved removing trees, vegetation, and debris; razing the building; transporting and disposing of ACM building debris to an EPA-approved off-site disposal facility; and backfilling excavated areas. During EPA’s remediation, protective measures were taken to control dust, conduct air monitoring, and to prevent runoff of water used during the remediation from reaching nearby properties and the Branch River.

Cyberattack Disrupts RIPTA Communications

Date: September 13, 2021

A cyberattack on the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority in August shut down some operations and disabled the ride payment system, which allows riders to use rechargeable cards or phones to pay for their fares. Internally, phone lines and email access were also disrupted. The authority reported that passenger financial information would not have been compromised because it is housed off-site, reports. Transit services continued uninterrupted and safety systems were unaffected. Employee records also appeared to remain secure.

In April, New York’s MTA was also victimized by cyberattackers. According to a 2020 survey of 90 transit agency technology leaders, more than 80% of agencies reported feeling prepared for a cybersecurity threat, yet only 60% said they had a cybersecurity program in place.

Net Metering Limits Lifted for Solar Power Company

Date: August 11, 2021

The Block Island Power Company successfully lobbied to have a 3% cap removed on its solar power net metering program, the Energy News Network reports. The unique move was made by the small utility, a rate-payer nonprofit with about 1,600 members. Net metering involves buying unused solar power from customers and adding it to the grid.

Legislation signed by Governor Daniel McKee in July allows the town of New Shoreham, as well as the Pascoag Utility District in northwestern Rhode Island, to set its own maximum percentage for net-metered power. The amount is subject to approval by the state Public Utilities Commission.

Utilities and distributors nationwide have traditionally fought against net metering, arguing that it unfairly passes distribution costs onto non-solar customers.

Environmental Management Agency Seeks Comment on Water Quality Study

Date: August 11, 2021

Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management is seeking comments on a draft study of total maximum daily load in an effort to improve biodiversity and protect water quality in Buckeye Brook and Warwick Pond, where water quality does not meet state-required standards. A study on means for improvement began in 2008. Two proposed solutions are better stormwater management and remediation of a nearby landfill that closed in 1978. It is believed the site contains buried metals that are leaching into groundwater.

The study examined the effects of poor water quality on bottom-dwelling macroinvertebrates, and potential stressors adding to the problem. It concluded that to meet water quality criteria and restore aquatic life, reductions of cadmium, copper, and iron are required, and stormwater runoff must be reduced. Written comments on the draft TMDL should be sent by September 1 to

Rhode Island Job Opportunities

Date: August 11, 2021

Engineer (NBIS Bridge Inspection)
Steere Engineering Inc.

Program to Attract Underrepresented Students to STEM

Date: July 21, 2021

Rhode Island has become the ninth state in the country to have a MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) chapter that will focus on underrepresented students in the state. The program aims to acquaint middle and high school students in urban areas, who are typically from low-income families and attend low-performing schools with few resources, with the STEM fields. It will also support students of color, females, and LGBTQ students.

The program aims to increase these students’ participation in invention and design competitions and support their study of STEM subjects. The efforts will include University of Rhode Island campus-based workshops, mentoring, academic support, and interaction with community and corporate partners, such as internships. The partnership was announced at the annual MESA USA National Engineering Design Challenge in June.

Funding Will Help Maintain Coastline Water Quality

Date: July 21, 2021

The US Environmental Protection Agency will allocate $206,600 to Rhode Island to maintain water quality on beaches this year via the BEACH Act. The five New England coastal states will receive a total of more than $1.1 million.

EPA anticipates the funding will help monitor beaches for fecal indicator bacteria, maintain and operate public notification systems, identify local pollution sources and report results of monitoring and notification activities to EPA and the public. When elevated levels of bacteria are detected, this funding supports beach warning or beach closing notifications to protect public health.

Since 2002, EPA has provided $22.5 million to the five New England states for water quality monitoring and public dissemination of those findings.

Rhode Island Job Opportunities

Date: July 21, 2021

Plumbing/Fire Protection Designer

See other engineering job opportunities on the NSPE Job Board.

Solar Farm Construction Harms Tree Species

Date: June 7, 2021

Oak trees, a keystone species in the state, have been on a rapid decline due to an onslaught of gypsy moths from 2016–19, drought, and most recently, deforestation for the purpose of building solar farms. Commercial solar advocates argue that the farms are significantly beneficial to the environment, while others argue solar farms don’t help to manage watersheds as tress do, Eco RI News reports. Instead of building solar arrays on disturbed sites such as landfills, however, many solar developers see cost savings in converting forests and farmland.

“I know we want renewable energy, but we’ve got enough land that has already been leveled. Put the solar arrays on rooftops. Put them on all the destroyed properties we already have,” an entomology professor said. “Don’t cut down existing forests. It’s totally antithetical to the goals of conservation.”

Battery Storage Project Aims to Help State Reach Energy Goals

Date: June 7, 2021

Energy developer Agilitas Energy is starting preconstruction work on its latest battery energy storage project, a 3 MW / 9 MWh lithium-ion system in Pascoag. The storage system will allow the utility to modernize while avoiding the costly rebuilding of power lines.

Last year, then Governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive order committing Rhode Island to meet 100% of its electricity demand with renewables and nonfossil fuel resources by 2030. Energy storage systems will play a significant role in this by storing energy generated by renewables for later use.

Lawmakers Oppose Fossil Fuel Expansion in Port of Providence

Date: May 13, 2021

A group of 26 state lawmakers wrote to the Energy Facilities Siting Board asking it to reject the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure by Sea 3 LLC in the Port Providence. The group opposes the company’s request for exemption from oversight by the board, according to UpriseRI. They also argued pollution from such an expansion would endanger to public health in the area, which already has a large fossil fuel production presence, and that the proposal is contrary to the state’s long-term environmental goals.

In its application, Sea 3 made the case that the plans to expand its shipping terminal to expand into rail deliveries was not an “alteration” and therefore didn’t require regulatory oversight.

Legislation Would Fund Clean Transportation in Overburdened Areas

Date: May 13, 2021

Legislation has been introduced to implement the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program in Rhode Island, reports the Newport Daily News. The bill, according to the article, “would provide the funding the state needs to make clean transportation options available and affordable for all Rhode Islanders, while drastically reducing pollution that harms public health, particularly in urban, poorer neighborhoods that disproportionately bear the burden of transportation infrastructure like major highways.”

The measure requires that a minimum of 35% of all proceeds are invested in underserved and environmentally overburdened communities through clean transportation projects and programs. The Equity and Environmental Justice Advisory Board it establishes would serve to ensure that standard is met and advocate for programs that serve those communities.

Other jurisdictions taking part in the initiative are Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia.

Blind Student Fundraising for an Accessible Engineering Device

Date: April 20, 2021

Haylee Mota, a young woman from East Providence who is visually impaired, has been accepted into college to study mechanical engineering. She set up a GoFundMe site to raise money for a graphic device she needs since she cannot use CAD programs traditionally used by other students. A touch interface device called the Graphiti tactile graphics display by Orbit Research would allow her to feel images on the device’s screen.

Through an array of moving pins, the Graphiti displays charts, drawings, flowcharts, floorplans, images, and photographs on a tactile display. The device uses a touch interface to enable the user to draw on the display and create their own drawings with a finger. The touch display allows for gestures such as scrolling, zooming, rotation of an image, and the ability to move the image by physically nudging the picture on the display. The Graphiti plugs into multiple other devices, including computers, a talking graphing calculator, telescopes, and microscopes.

Donors have already given more than enough to cover the cost of the device, which will also be useful to Mota outside of the classroom for navigation and in her career as a mechanical engineer, she wrote on the fundraising page.

URI Gift Supports Underrepresented Engineering Students

Date: April 20, 2021

Anonymous donors have contributed $2.5 million that will endow a URI fast-track degree program that will give preference to populations who are traditionally underrepresented in engineering, including women and people of color. The funding will pay for one year of full tuition and fees for students enrolled in the final year of the program, which offers an accelerated timeline to complete a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years. The donations were made to honor College of Engineering Dean Raymond Wright, who plans to retire at the end of the academic year.

Learn more about NSPE’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

Green Energy Collaboration to Help RIPTA Save on Energy

Date: April 20, 2021

The Rhode Island Public Transit is collaborating on a green energy project that allows it to save on electric costs with energy credits from a solar installation located on a waterfront site in East Providence. Under a remote net energy agreement with Kearsarge Energy, RIPTA will receive credit for power generated by a 6,000-plus panel solar installation that Kearsarge constructed on the site of a former tank farm. The transit authority estimates this will save it at least $250,000 a year in electricity costs.

Brown University Turning Away from Fossil Fuels, Embracing Sustainability

Date: March 11, 2021

Brown University leaders have pledged to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2040, with 75% of reductions happening by 2025, in an effort to help fight climate change. Also, the university’s financial managers are selling off its investments in fossil fuels, selling and liquidating its entire exposure to companies that extract fossil fuels and applying environmental, social, and governance criteria in all of its investment decisions.

The institution also vows to support more sustainable campus operations, including reducing nutrient pollution, reducing water impacts, safeguarding human health and curbing biodiversity loss. In addition, Brown plans to expand education and research opportunities focused on sustainability.

NSPE’s Code of Ethics states, “Engineers are encouraged to adhere to the principles of sustainable development in order to protect the environment for future generations.”

Warehouse Plans Meet Community Resistance

Date: March 11, 2021

A construction project in the early planning stages was met with community resistance in Warwick, due to concerns about damage to wetlands as well as increased traffic and general warehouse operations. The project would comprise a massive warehouse and distribution facility with 116 loading bays, 124 trailers, and 404 parking spots over 541,000 square feet.

The project has been proposed by NorthPoint, the second-largest industrial property in the US. Warwick community members voiced concerns over environmental repercussions at a recent meeting, according to Some, including a former supervising engineer at the stormwater and wetlands division at the state’s Department of Environmental Management, said the building footprint is too large for the site and doesn’t allow for enough stormwater basin square footage.

Submarine Manufacturer To Add Jobs in RI and CT with New Contract

Date: February 11, 2021

Submarine manufacturer General Dynamics Electric Boat said it has a positive outlook for 2021, and it plans to add 2,000 jobs in Connecticut and Rhode Island this year. The work will come from contracts totaling $39 billion that include the manufacture of two of the 12 planned Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines and 19 Virginia class submarines, according to WSHU Public Radio.

In November, Electric Boat announced the US Navy had awarded the company a $9.474-billion contract modification option for construction and test of the lead and second ships of the Columbia class, as well as associated design and engineering support.

Planned Construction of Wind Farm Open for Public Comment

Date: February 11, 2021

This month, public hearings on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the South Fork Wind Farm are being held. The public has an opportunity to comment on BOEM’s work.

The 15-turbine South Fork Wind Farm, under development by Ørsted (owner of the Block Island Wind Farm), will be built on Cox Ledge 20 to 25 miles southeast of Point Judith, Rhode Island. More information, including the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, instructions for providing comments, and more information on the public meetings is available here. Comments must be submitted by 11:59 PM on February 22, 2021.

OSHA Report Says PE Should Have Been Consulted to Prevent Accident

Date: January 27, 2021

Acrobats injured in Rhode Island in 2014 when a hanging apparatus failed have been given $52.5 million in a settlement with an arena. An OSHA investigation into the incident found a PE should have been consulted to check the rigging for “structural adequacy and performance,” according to the Herald-Tribune.

Rhode Island Joins Transportation Climate Initiative as Founding Member

Date: January 27, 2021

Rhode Island has joined Connecticut, D.C., and Massachusetts in an effort to combat climate change by cutting car pollution. The state will be a founding member of the Transportation Climate Initiative, which would place limits on carbon emissions from gasoline and diesel and require suppliers of the fuels to buy credits to sell them. The plan will raise an estimated $20 million for Rhode Island, which will be used to fund mass transit, electric vehicle charging and clean transportation efforts.

Deck Work on Newport Pell Bridge Completed for Season

Date: December 16, 2020

The third phase of the Newport Pell Bridge deck rehabilitation project has been completed for the season. The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority said the work, which began in March, consisted of a partial depth hydro-demolition and reconstruction of the concrete bridge deck for approximately 4,700 feet of the westbound and eastbound lanes. This phase of the project will continue for one month in April 2021, but the work will be done at night.

Erosion Mitigation Project Receives Funding

Date: December 16, 2020

The National Coastal Resilience Fund awarded a $129,191 grant to the University of Rhode Island and the nonprofit Friends of Green Hill Pond to restore threatened dunes and the associated wildlife habitat at Green Hill Pond in South Kingstown, reports the Independent. The grant will fund the design and permit for a nature-based dune restoration to alleviate flood risk for nearby homes and improve water quality.

Offshore Wind Energy Plans Moving Forward

Date: November 18, 2020

Rhode Island will pursue a competitive request for proposals (RFP) to procure up to 600 MW of new offshore wind energy, according to Wind Power Engineering and Development. The state is home to North America’s first operational offshore wind farm (Block Island) and, in 2019, received state approval for the 400-MW Revolution Wind offshore project. The endeavor represents progress toward Governor Raimondo’s goal of Advancing a 100% Renewable Energy Future for Rhode Island by 2030, which he put into effect with Executive Order 20-01. The RFP will be developed by National Grid, with oversight by the state Office of Energy Resources, and is subject to approval by the Public Utilities Commission.

Planned Providence Bus System Moves Ahead with Community Input

Date: November 18, 2020

Plans for a multihub bus system in Providence will move forward with public input. After a worldwide search, the city hired Arup to work with stakeholders to create a cohesive vision that connects downtown Providence’s public space network while maintaining an easily accessible, transit-rich environment, and develop engineering plans for specified infrastructure projects funded through the city’s capital improvement plan.

The plan, six years in the works, has support from Governor Raimondo, Mayor Jorge Elorza, and RIDOT. “This plan…provides a number of very important benefits for both riders and citizens,” RIDOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. said. “It spreads out the heavy concentration of buses and pedestrians from a congested Kennedy Plaza to strategic satellite locations at the Innovation District, the Providence Train Station, and along the edges of Kennedy Plaza. This configuration gives riders access to their jobs, educational institutions, entertainment, and key intermodal transfers to major northeast metropolitan areas.”

As Sea Level Rises, Engineers Say They Lack Guidance, Survey Says

Date: October 28, 2020

A survey of maritime infrastructure engineers by University of Rhode Island researchers found that the rising sea level is often not factored into designs of ports, breakwaters, fishing piers and other coastal infrastructure. The survey of 85 engineers at consulting firms, port authorities and government agencies with experience working on port infrastructure projects in the US was conducted in 2019. The researchers found that 64% do not have a policy or planning document to guide how to incorporate sea level change into their designs. “The challenge they face is that they aren’t receiving concrete, consistent guidance for what they should be doing to integrate sea level rise projections into their work,” said Austin Becker, URI associate professor of marine affairs. “They need guidance, they want guidance, they don’t want to have to go on the whims of their clients, who may not have expertise in this area. They also don’t want to have to weigh potentially conflicting guidance from local, state or federal agencies.” He added that without guidance, port engineers are more likely to disregard sea level change projections entirely. Read more about the study.

Manufacturing Talent Needed for Submarine Construction

Date: October 28, 2020

As the US Navy contracts for the construction of new submarines and Electric Boat expands its workforce, an industry group has received a Defense Department grant to survey manufacturers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island to “open up job exploration and employment opportunities to more than 5,000 potential workers,” reports the Hartford Courant. Electric Boat has shipyards at Groton and Quonset Point. The article describes the survey as “the latest effort to develop a workforce with basic industrial and manufacturing skills and exposure to robotics, automation and artificial intelligence.”

2019 Engineer of the Year Award: Ronald Daignault, P.E.

OTY, Mr. Ron Daignault, PE, and a photograph of him with Mr. David Arpin, PE Immediate Past President of the RI Society


Since 1958, RISPE has annually recognized a local engineer who has made outstanding contributions to both the engineering profession and their community by honoring them as the RISPE Engineer of the Year. The award recognizes an individual’s dedication to the highest ethical standards of the engineering profession, the technical excellence of their work, their deep concern for the public welfare, and their enthusiastic leadership amongst their peers.

This year, RISPE is excited to present this prestigious award to Mr. Ronald Daignault, PE. Ron is well-known in the engineering community, and has earned the respect of his peers with good reason: his commitment to his profession, country, and community set a strong example for others to follow. His career and volunteerism embody the ideals of professionalism and citizenship.

Shortly after graduating high school, Ron enlisted in the Marine Corps and retired in 1988, having served in the Aviation and Recruiting fields at the time. Following his military service, he earned a bachelors degree in Civil Engineering, and a Masters in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a Geotechnical emphasis, both from the University of Rhode Island.

Over the course of his 26+ year career, Ron has work for several local engineering firms and institutions, including Paul B. Aldinger & Associates, Bryant University, Alpha Grainger Manufacturing, Jacques Whitford Company, and the VA Medical Center in Providence, RI.

While at the VA, Ron was promoted to Chief of the Facilities Management Service, responsible for the management and oversight of the Design/Engineering and Construction Departments, the Environmental/Safety/Industrial Health/Emergency Management Department, and the Facilities Maintenance, Transportation, and Grounds Departments for the 40-acre hospital campus.

The campus consisted of 35+ buildings and three remote Community Based Outpatient Clinics, including a staff of 80+ professionals and trades personnel. In recognition of his service to the VA, Ron was awarded the VA Federal Engineer of the Year Award in 2015. In 2010, in addition to his duties at the VA, Ron founded RAD Engineering, LLC, and serves as its Principal and owner. RAD Engineering has become a successful multi-disciplined civil engineering company that takes on a wide variety of projects including geotechnical and structural engineering, environmental design, and pre & post construction condition surveys. He has also served for many years on the Town of Burrillville School Building Committee.

Ron has also made a continuous and dedicated contribution to both the Rhode Island and National Societies of Professional Engineers. At the State Level, he has served in all Executive Board positions, including Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President and President from 2004 – 2010, in addition to holding a position in several State Committees.

At the National level, Ron is an NSPE Fellow, was RISPE’s Representative to the House of Delegates for 4 years, has attended several National and Regional NSPE annual meetings, and served on the 2012 Northeast Regional Meeting Planning Committee for the NER meeting held in October 2012 in Newport, RI.

It is clear that Ron’s professional and personal achievements make him an ideal recipient for the RISPE Engineer of the Year Award, and wish to extend our sincerest congratulations to him!

RISPE 2019 Annual Banquet

A message from David Arpin, P.E., RISPE President

RISPE Annual Banquet

Dear Rhode Island Engineers,

This past month, RISPE hosted our Annual Banquet, officially marking the end of our 2018-2019 Fiscal Year. The event was held at Naval Station Newport and over 50 RISPE Members, Colleagues, and Friends joined us for the event.

Our first guest speaker was NSPE Executive Director and CEO, Mark Golden, who gave an update on NSPE and their accomplishments this past year. Our second guest speaker was the Executive Director of the American Council of Engineering Companies, Rhode Island (ACEC-RI), Marcel Valois who provided an overview of their organization and their recent activities and State legislative wins.

Our main speaker for the evening was Mr. Neil McLaughlin, Director of Projects & Finance for Pangaea Logistics Solutions, who provided an overview of the types of marine/waterfront projects their firm takes on. In addition, Neil discussed his firm’s involvement in the long-term development of Brayton Point and some of the challenges they face in developing the site as a deep-water dry bulk terminal and wind farm logistics hub.

The event also included recognition of the 2019 RISPE Young Engineer of the Year, Mr. Frank Marinaccio, PE and the 2019 RISPE Scholarship Recipient, Mr. Timothy Vitkin of Cumberland High School. Some of Rhode Island’s newly registered Professional Engineers were also in attendance and received their new Professional Engineer Certificates from the Rhode Island Board of Registration.

On behalf of the RISPE Executive Board, I would like to thank all who attended and participated in the event as well as the sponsorship from our RISPE membership. Thank you for your continued support!

Save the Date: RISPE’s 2019 Annual Banquet

RISPE is pleased to announce that it will be hosting this year’s Annual Banquet on Thursday, May 23. While details of the main presentation are still in progress, the event will also include the presentation of the 2019 RISPE Young Engineer of the Year Award, the presentation of the 2019 RISPE Scholarship, and recognition of the over 25 Newly Registered RI Professional Engineers!

More details of the event are to follow shortly.

Rhode Island Society at the 2018 Professional Engineers Conference

From July 18–22 in Las Vegas, at Caesars Palace, NSPE members enjoyed an exciting week full of exceptional education programs, speakers, and great networking.






Save the Date to Join us in Kansas City for the 2019 Professional Engineers Conference
July 17-21, 2019