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Invenergy failed to disclose its pro-power plant astroturfing



Michael McElroy

“…Invenergy has repeatedly failed to disclose essential information in this docket,” writes the attorneys representing the Town of Burrillville before the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) in a new motion. “Thus far, Invenergy has not been held responsible for withholding crucial information from the EFSB, the parties and the public.

“This cannot be allowed to continue.”

Attorneys Michael McElroy and William Dimitri submitted a scathing critique of Invenergy’s actions as a motion before the EFSB. At issue is Invenergy’s proposed $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant aimed at the pristine forests of northwest Rhode Island.

In the motion, the attorneys are asked that Invenergy’s power plant application “be dismissed or denied with prejudice,” adding, ‘The energy facility siting process is effective, and inspires trust in the public, only when it is open and transparent. Invenergy has time and again withheld material information necessary for the process to work, and continues to do so. These actions and inactions have eroded the public’s ability to trust in this process.”

There are two specific complaints against Invenergy addressed in the motion.

“First,” note Burrillville’s lawyers, “on November 1, 2017, Invenergy revealed that ISO-New England has barred Invenergy from participating in Forward Capacity Auction 12 (FCA-12). However, Invenergy withheld this information from the EFSB, the parties and the public until Invenergy’s consultants could present the ISO-New England disqualification from FCA-12 in the best light possible. And when Invenergy finally disclosed the fact of the disqualification, it failed to produce the important correspondence and other information from ISO-New England that is needed for the EFSB and the parties to accurately assess the deeply negative impacts of this disqualification on whether the proposed facility is needed at all.”

Much of this issue is discussed here, here and here. More interesting is the second issue:

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“Second… on November 3, 2017, Invenergy further withheld relevant information when it failed to disclose its funding of the public relations work being done on its behalf by a pro-CREC group called Rhode Islanders for Affordable Energy, and its related website, in its supplemental response to EFSB Data Request No. 1-3.”

The entire purpose of  “Rhode Islanders for Affordable Energy” is to “educate Rhode Islanders about the issue of high energy costs and to advocate that state regulators approve the proposed Clear River Energy Center in Burrillville as the first step.”

The members of Invenergy’s advocacy group “appear to be primarily local unions and business associations,” say the lawyers for Burrillville, adding, “On June 9, 2017, EcoRI published an article describing a ‘new pro-power plant group’ and provided a link to the Rhode Islanders for Affordable Energy website in the article. Each page of the Rhode Islanders for Affordable Energy website states that the website is ‘Paid for by Clear River Energy Center, LLC.’”

Burrillville clearly asked Invenergy to submit and reveal all present and future plans regarding public outreach, including “copies of all materials circulated to individuals and media.” Invenergy failed to disclose the group and website they created purely as public outreach.

UPDATE 2017-11-14: Here’s Invenergy’s Objection

About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.