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Private event for fossil fuel industry insiders held in Cranston



Five people braved the wind and cold outside a fossil fuel energy company event held at Taco Comfort Solutions in Cranston, Rhode Island Friday morning that drew industry insiders and government officials from across New England. The event, sponsored by New England Coalition for Affordable Energy and Rhode Islanders for Affordable Energy was invite only. Media was limited to those outlets organizers felt would be friendly to the views of fossil fuel companies, such as the Providence Journal and Rhode Island Public Radio.

Gordon van Welie, CEO of ISO New England, was the keynote speaker. As Dave Anderson noted here, “As CEO of ISO New England, van Welie is subject to a Code of Conduct and ‘must act with impartiality toward all Market Participants…,’ which includes Invenergy.”

“The oil industry is rolling in dough,” said protester Justin Boyan of Climate Action RI/350 RI. “They can afford to put on a fancy breakfast and present their spin on our energy future to people who should be neutral, like the CEO of ISO-New England.

Paul Roselli, president of the Burrillville Land Trust and Democratic candidate for governor of Rhode Island said, “Fossil fuels have no future in our region, in our state. To have the ISO-New England come over and purposefully invite the oil industry to make a presentation seems like the wrong approach.”

Others addressing the audience inside the exclusive event included:

Dan Ewan from Invenergy, a company that wants to build a $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant amid the pristine forests of northwest Rhode Island. Inevenergy funds Rhode Islanders for Affordable Energy.

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Erin Petkovich from Enbridge, a gas pipeline company. Enbridge recently acquired Spectra Energy, and maintains a major gas pipeline that runs through Burrillville and into the Port of Providence.

Connecticut State Representative Lonnie Reed, who chairs the House Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee in her state.

Rick Sullivan of the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts:

Carol Grant, from the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources.

At one point, Steve Dodge, executive director of the Massachusetts Petroleum Council (MPC), came outside to speak to the protesters. The MPC is a subsidiary organization of the American Petroleum Institute, the primary trade association and lobbying arm of the oil and gas industry, as well as an early funder of the Tea Party.

Susan Walker

“Just so you folks know, there’s wind and solar folks here too,” said Dodge. “this is ‘all of the above.'”

“We understand it’s funded by Invenergy,” said Susan Walker.

“No, no,” said Dodge.

“That’s true,” I said.

“It’s not true,” said Dodge. “It’s not funded by Invenergy. “

“One of the two groups that is funding this [event] is almost entirely funded by Invenergy,” I said.

“Invenergy has nothing to do with this,” said Dodge.

“It was [admitted to] in documents in the EFSB,” I said.

“What’s the EFSB?” asked Dodge.

“The Energy Facilities Siting Board, where Invenergy…” I began

Justin Boyan

“This event is not funded by Invenergy,” said Dodge, artlessly. “They’re going to be speaking but it’s not funded by them.”

“Yes they are. One of the two groups…”

“I can tell you that Invenergy is not funding this,” said Dodge.

[cross talk]

“Who is funding it?” asked Justin Boyan.

“It’s a coalition that’s made up of all sorts of people who are in all facets of energy infrastructure. It’s infrastructure, it’s not oil. Yeah, it’s pipelines and LNG but its also wind and solar and everything else…”

“Do you believe in the science of climate change?” yelled Boyan as Dodge left.

“Yes,” said Dodge.


ISO New England CEO to headline invite-only fossil fuel industry event

UpriseRI denied access to invite only ISO-New England event; ProJo, NPR okayed

Taco Comfort Solutions is one of the member companies in TEC-RI, a coalition of corporate energy consumers that support Invenergy‘s proposed power plant.

John Niland, Invenergy’s director of development

Paul Roselli

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.