Hearings on power plant take on topic of energy need

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WARWICK – Key hearings this week before the Energy Facility Siting Board focused on the region’s need for power, with debates on if the growing market for renewables will create enough energy to replace the power that would be created by Invenergy Thermal LLC’s proposed 1,000 megawatt plant in Burrillville.

By statute, the $1 billion project must be proven necessary to gain approval from the state board, but demand for electricity is expected to remain flat over the next few years.

Experts speaking on behalf of the Chicago-based company say that the facility will still be needed to replace older, less efficient power plants as they go offline.

But lawyers from the town of Burrillville and the Conservation Law Foundation noted that the company failed to secure contracts to sell all of the power that would be generated, and that the deal secured at a 2016 auction to sell power to Independent System Operator New England was recently cancelled.

The debate on cost and need will continue for two days next week before moving on to health and environmental issues. Opponents of the project point to diverse and pristine forests that would be divided by the plant, proposed for a location off of Wallum Lake Road.

The three-member siting board is scheduled to hold the last day of hearings on February 7, when they’ll address the cumulative impacts of the project and potential harm to the environment.

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