Plant Hearings Shuffled; Woonsocket Rumors Quashed

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

Rumors are intensifying that the city of Woonsocket is in discussions with the developer of the proposed Burrillville power plant to deliver up to a million gallons of water daily to the gas-fired facility. There also is speculation that the city is considering hosting a small “peaker” power plant built by a different developer.

Woonsocket city spokesman Blake Collins, however, recently quashed both ideas. “At this time there’s nothing in the works,” Collins said.

Invenergy, the Chicago-based developer of the proposed Burrillville fossil-fuel power plant, has been seeking a water supply to cool the $700 million Clear River Energy Center since August, when two water districts in Burrillville denied the company access to local well water.

The Rhode Island Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) has granted Invenergy a 30-day extension to find a water source for the nearly 1,000-megawatt power plant. Thus, the timeline for public meetings and a final decision on the project are expected to be delayed.

The Oct. 3 public hearing at Burrillville High School has been postponed until some time after Invenergy names its water source. The new hearing isn't likely to take place until November.

Instead, on Oct. 3, the EFSB will hold an open meeting at its office in Warwick at 2 p.m. The three-member board will discuss whether the 30-day extension will push back the decision date for the application, which is currently expected in January or February. The EFSB also is expected to rule on a request to intervene from the Harrisville Fire District water board. 

The delay in finding a water source has also canceled an Oct. 13 hearing at EFSB's Warwick office. Instead, on Oct. 13, the EFSB will hear arguments for a motions to dismiss Invenergy's project from the town of Burrillville and the Conservation Law Foundation. The EFSB may rule on those requests at the meeting or deliberate and announce its decision at a future meeting.