Energy Center's Power-Line Project Expands Impact

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

WARWICK, R.I. — The proposed Burrillville power plant is still being deliberated by the state Energy Facilities Siting Board. Nevertheless, National Grid is going ahead with a $47.2 million project to connect the fossil-fuel facility to the power grid.

At a May 23 preliminary hearing for the interconnection project, National Grid promised not to cut down any trees or start digging until the $1 billion Clear River Energy Center is approved.

“If the power plant doesn't move forward, the transmission line doesn't move forward," said David Beron, project manager for National Grid's interconnection build-out.

According to a draft schedule (listed below), a decision on the power plant isn’t likely until December or January.

The proposed Invenergy fossil-fuel power plan is sited on the property line of the Pulaski/George Washington State Forest. (Keep Rhode Island Beautiful)

The proposed Invenergy fossil-fuel power plan is sited on the property line of the Pulaski/George Washington State Forest. (Keep Rhode Island Beautiful)

During the recent Public Utilities Commission hearing, the town of Burrillville’s attorney, Michael McElroy, said the interconnection project will do more harm to fish and wildlife during construction than the building of the natural-gas power plant. Among other damage, the interconnection project will clear 64 acres of forestland and displace 10 acres of wetlands. The interconnection project therefore requires a heightened environmental review, McElroy said.

Four permits are needed from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and three from Burrillville, including a variance for excessive height for the towers. The Department of Transportation and Army Corp of Engineers must also issue permits.

Chicago-based Invenergy Thermal Development LLC is the developer and would-be owner of the proposed power plant. The company is paying National Grid to develop the interconnection project and, if built, will pay to operate it.

Here are some details of the interconnection project:

Construction of 6.8 miles of new power lines and towers.
Expansion of two 1.6-mile stretches of existing power lines and towers.
Remodeling of a 280-foot section of power lines and towers at the Sherman Road collector and distribution station.
The towers can reach a maximum height of 120 feet.
The width of the existing power line and service roads will be widened to 300 feet.

Here is the schedule for the final phase of hearings for the Clear River Energy Center:
July 3, direct testimony from Invenergy.
Aug. 7, direct testimony from other parties.
Sept. 1, rebuttal testimony and supplemental advisory opinions.
Sept. 27, rebuttal of rebuttal testimony and supplemental advisory opinions.
Oct. 1, close discovery.
Oct. 3, witness testimony and exhibits.
Oct. 9, objections to exhibits and/or witnesses and supporting memorandums.
Oct. 17, 18, 19, procedural hearings and motions.

Evidentiary hearings are scheduled for Oct. 31, Nov. 1, 2, 10, 20, 29 and 30, and Dec. 4, 7, 8, 12 and 18. If necessary, three hearing dates are reserved in January.