Invenergy and Builders Challenge Motion to Dismiss

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

Invenergy Thermal Development LLC is pushing back against efforts to have its application to build Rhode Island's largest fossil-fuel power plant dismissed.

On Sept. 19, the Chicago-based developer challenged a motion to dismiss by the town of Burrillville for the nearly 1,000-megawatt Clear River Energy Center. In filing its objection with the Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB), Invenergy challenges the town assertion that its application is incomplete, and that it relied on the best available information at the time, including the availability of water for cooling, one of the key issues in the power-plant debate.

Invenergy said it also has the right to introduce new data and amend or change its application as the natural-gas/diesel facility enters the final stage of public hearings, which begin Sept. 21. Dismissing the application, the company argues, would be “drastically unfair” and result in “impractical consequences.”

The Pascoag Utility District (PUD), Invenergy says, promised a water supply when the company filed its application on Nov. 16, 2015. But it wasn't until Aug. 19 of this year that PUD terminated the letter of intent due to concerns that polluted well water would leach into the local aquifer. Invenergy’s second choice, the Harrisville Fire District, previously denied water access on Aug. 9.

Invenergy filed a 30-day motion of extension Sept. 9 and promises to name a new water source in the coming weeks. The company argues that making such as change is allowed and, in fact, the Manchester Street power plant in Providence made comparable modifications late in the review process in 1990.

Similar to Invenergy’s application, the Manchester Street power plant didn't have an air-pollution plan in place in the final stages of the application process. The power-plant project was nonetheless approved by the EFSB with the condition that a plan be submitted within 60 days.

Invenergy stated that if Burrillville’s motion to dismiss is granted it will file another application and therefor require 12 state and local entities to re-file their advisory opinions. The results, Invenergy said, “would result in wasteful, inefficient and impractical results.”

The Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council also filed an appeal of Burrillville’s motion to dismiss. The construction advocacy group said the $700 million project would be the largest building project in the state and the biggest since the Providence Place mall was built in 1995. The estimated 700 workers during constriction will provide an economic benefit to the state, according to the council.

The council called the motion to dismiss politically motivated and illegally irresponsible. It cited the recent advisory opinion from the state Public Utilities Commission calling that the Clear River Energy Center a benefit to ratepayers and the economy.

The EFSB is expected to announce a hearing or a meeting to address Burrillville’s motion to dismiss, which may include a motion to dismiss filed by the Conservation Law Foundation.