Burrillville Disputes Gov.'s Energy, Environmental Plan

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

The town of Burrillville is pushing back against Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo’s new environmental and energy goals she plans to enact if elected to a second term.

Raimondo pledged to try to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions during a press event Aug. 7, but Burrillville argues that her support for the proposed fossil-fuel Clear River Energy Center contradicts that goal.

“Respectfully, we ask the Governor to reconsider her position on the highly controversial power plant proposal which we now know is in direct conflict with her administration’s recently stated energy and environmental goals,” according to the town's Aug. 15 letter to Raimondo.

The letter notes that the Clear River Energy Center would increase carbon dioxide emissions for the state by 30 percent, by emitting some 7.2 billion pounds of CO2 annually. The letter also lists other pollutants from emissions such as nitrogen oxides, benzene, and formaldehyde.

It notes detrimental impacts on Narragansett Bay and forestland claimed by groups such as Save The Bay and the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. The letter includes the opinion from the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council that noise and fumes would interfere with 100,000 annual visitors to a national heritage corridor.

“Governor Raimondo says she is making sure that every Rhode Island family can enjoy our bay, beaches, forests and wetlands for generations to come, but the Invenergy plant jeopardizes those treasured natural resources,” according to the letter.

The town also notes that the nearly 1,000-megawatt natural-gas/diesel-fueled facility contradicts Raimondo’s goal of providing 40 percent renewable energy to Rhode Island by 2020.

The governor’s Vision for a Clean Energy Future doesn't explain how she will achieve her renewable-energy goals. The two-page policy proposal focuses on expanding Rhode Island’s offshore wind energy industry. The policy proposal aims for 5,000 jobs in infrastructure, manufacturing, job training, and research and development. Ports in Providence and North Kingstown would be expanded to make Rhode Island a hub for offshore wind assembly and construction and a point of departure for siting and construction of offshore wind farms.

On Sept. 22, 2016 the Burrillville Town Council voted to oppose the power plant. Thirty-six cities and towns in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut have passed resolutions opposing the proposed energy facility.

Final hearings for the proposed $1 billion Clear River Energy Center are underway by the state Energy Facilities Siting Board. A decision on the application is expected by the end of this year or in early 2019.