Proposed Power Plant in Stretch Run of Hearings

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

BURRILLVILLE, R.I. — October will be busy for the proposed fossil-fuel power plant.

The activity starts Oct. 10 with what is likely the last opportunity for the public to speak directly to the Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB). The 4-hour public hearing in the Burrillville High School auditorium, 425 East Ave., begins at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m. The EFSB is intent on making this the final public hearing but it may be continued if time runs out before all speakers have an opportunity to testify.

The public can attend but will not be allowed to speak at hearings on Oct. 17, 18 and 19 at the EFSB office in Warwick. The hearings address a motion by Invenergy Thermal Development LLC to protect confidential information in its water-supply plan; an objection by the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and town of Burrilville to testimony from the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council; and a motion by CLF to release redacted testimony.

The Oct. 17 hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. The Oct. 18 hearing is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. The Oct. 19 hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.

The final, lengthy stretch of cross-examination of experts witnesses is scheduled to begin Oct. 31 at 9 a.m. and run through Jan. 17. Written testimony from the 25 or so experts has already been submitted and they will only be subject to cross-examination.

CLF is drawing attention to the cross-examination of Brown University professor J. Timmons Roberts scheduled for Dec. 7. In pre-filed testimony, Roberts argued that emissions from the proposed power plant make it impossible for Rhode Island to achieve its greenhouse-gas reduction targets.

Roberts' testimony contradicts that of energy consultant Ellen Cool, who testified on behalf of the Office of Energy Resources that the power plant will reduce state carbon emissions. Cool is also scheduled to take the stand Dec. 7.

On Nov. 20, Scott Comings of The Nature Conservancy is scheduled to defend his assertion that the power plant will harm a critical wildlife corridor. Environmental consultant and wildlife biologist Jason Ringler will take questions about his belief that that there will be minimal harm to wetlands and wildlife.

On Jan. 10, energy analyst Robert Fagan will take questions on his assertion that the power plant is unnecessary. On the same day, energy analyst Glenn Walker is scheduled to defend his analysis that the power pant isn’t needed due to an abundance of energy production in New England. The Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council will also take questions on the economic benefits of the power plant.

The Oct. 31 hearing will commence with the questioning of experts on details of the project, employment and property values.

David Harris, who lives with his family on 68 acres of lakefront property next to the site of the proposed power plant, will answer questions about his belief that the project will harm his plans for a horse-riding camp and recreational facility.

All hearings at the EFSB in Warwick will also be streamed live here.