Residents, town give final push against power plant; deliberations begin June 19

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BURRILLVILLE – With deliberations fast approaching, opponents of Invenergy Thermal’s proposal to build a 1,000 megawatt gas-burning power plant off of Wallum Lake Road in Burrillville are engaged in a final push to convince members of the state’s Energy Facility Siting Board that the facility would cause unacceptable harm to the town’s forests.

The town of Burrillville filed its post hearing brief with the state-appointed EFSB on Friday, May 17, citing multiple issues with the proposal, including environmental harm, lack of need and ongoing issues with the Chicago-based energy company’s application.

The town is joined in opposition by the Conservation Law Foundation; 31 Rhode Island municipalities; environmental, conservation and tourism groups; and an organized grassroots group of residents who have been fighting to stop the proposed plant for more than three years.

“The town and its residents have done all we can to make a legal and rational case against the Invenergy Power Plant,” said Town Manager Michael Wood. “Working around a seriously deficient law, the Energy Facilities Siting Act, the town has found a way to finance and then build a solid legal case against the project, despite having to go against up to five Invenergy attorneys and many more paid consultants participating at every session of the final hearing process.”

Residents, meanwhile, continued their end of the battle, sharing an online campaign to encourage others to submit public comment opposing the plant before the June 1 deadline. A form, prepared by opposition group Food & Water Watch, can be filled out here.

Burrillville BASE will host a day of action at he Rhode Island State House to show opposition to the fossil fuel plant on Thursday, May 30 from 6 to 8 p.m.

According to spokesperson Dyana Koelsch, the town brief concentrates on the deciding criteria- including lack of need and unacceptable harm to the environment- as identified in the EFSA.

“Invenergy has the burden to prove, among other things, that the proposed 1,000 MW plant is ‘necessary to meet the needs of the state and/or region for energy,’ as demonstrated by ‘long term state and/or regional energy need forecasts,'” the conclusion of the town’s brief states. “Primarily because ISO’s forecasts of net peak summer load have been steadily decreasing, and surplus, inexpensive supply has been steadily increasing, Invenergy has not met its burden of proving need for the plant.”

On the subject of unacceptable harm, the brief states that evidence shows that the proposed Clean River Energy Center would fragment a vital forest and wildlife corridor at a vital pinch point, a harm that could not be mitigated.

“CREC would also harm animals and plants, including many species that have threatened and protected status, and their habitats,” it states. “CREC would discharge toxic emissions that can cause cancer and other health problems. CREC would create traffic harm, noise harm, stormwater harm, and public health and safety harm. Invenergy has not met its burden of proving that the plant will not cause unacceptable harm to the environment.”

It also states that Invenergy lacks credibility.

“Invenergy has misrepresented crucial matters in its ISO filings, it has misrepresented the status of its permitting in its FERC filings, and it has misrepresented its intentions regarding this project in its filings to this Board.

The full brief can be found here.  

The EFSB will begin the deliberative portion of its process in open meetings on June 19, 20 and 25. The meetings are public, but neither the public nor the parties can actively participate..

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