History of the Former Tidewater MGP and Power Plant

In the 1880’s, the Pawtucket Gas Company began building the Tidewater MGP. The MGP operated from the 1880’s to 1968. From the 1880s until 1954, the MGP generated gas using coal and coke. These raw materials arrived by barge to storage areas at the site along the Seekonk River. In later years (1954 until the late-1960s), the MGP only produced gas to supplement natural gas during periods of high demand (also known as “peak shaving”). In 1968, the MGP facility was decommissioned. Based on available information, it appears that the majority of the above-ground MGP structures and tanks were razed at that time or before. The Narragansett Electric Company removed the last of the two remaining gasholders on the site (Nos. 7 and 8) in 2010.

In 1890, the Pawtucket Gas Company began building the Pawtucket No. 1 Station to generate electricity. The No. 1 Station operated on the site from the early-1890s until 1975. The station used coal, petroleum-based products, and residual by-product tars from the MGP for electricity generation. Petroleum products were historically stored in three large above ground storage tanks formerly located on the southern portion of the site. These tanks were removed in the 1970s. The electrical transmission towers, transformer yard, and engine room building (which currently contains the active switching station) remain on the portion of the site where the former power plant portion stood.

Current Operations

Today, The Narragansett Electric Company continues to operate a natural gas regulating station, an electrical substation and transmission towers on the site. Other than the stations, the land is vacant and security is provided by surrounding chain-link fencing.

Gas regulating stations are designed to reliably control system pressures and maintain the continuity of gas supply during normal and critical demand periods. The Tidewater station serves approximately 17,000 customers in Pawtucket. To ensure safe and reliable service is maintained, significant upgrades were made to the station during 2011 and 2012 including replacement of a building and installation of automation equipment that will allow for the remote monitoring of the station by our Gas Control team.

The Narragansett Electric Company also operates an electrical substation on the site. Substations are needed wherever electricity must be converted from one voltage to another. The substation at Tidewater serves the city of Pawtucket, including a “feed” to the downtown network system. Transmission lines carrying a high voltage of 115kV come into the station where equipment reduces the voltage to a level suitable for local distribution. Equipment maintenance and replacement work is periodically performed at the station to ensure continued reliable service to the approximately 32,300 electricity customers in Pawtucket. Significant upgrades to the substation were completed in 2012 and 2013.