Greater weight should be given to public input. The size of the board should be greater than three members. Fossil fuel power plants should be automatically disallowed. Environmental impact statements should be mandatory.
These are just a few of the many suggestions the public brought forwards on Monday for how the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB), and the legislation that enables the EFSB, might be improved.
On Monday, public testimony was taken at the third meeting of the Special Legislative Committee to Study the Energy Facilities Siting Act. All members of the board were present save for Representative Justin Price (Republican, District 39, Richmond, Exeter, Hopkinton) and Building Trades President Michael Sabitoni.
The meeting started with the Burrillville Land Trust‘s recommendations as outlined by Commission member Paul Roselli, president of the Land Trust. In addition to banning the future licensing of fossil fuel power plants in Rhode Island, the Burrillville Land Trust would also allow for the combining of separate dockets. For instance, right now the EFSB is considering Invenergy’s proposed power plant in north west Rhode island, but in a separate docket the EFSB is considering the electric lines that are needed to connect the power plant to the grid. Since the two dockets are necessarily connected, why are they being considered separately?
This kind of segmentation of a project “eliminates the need to look at cumulative impacts of the project will have.” (See here for more on segmentation.)
I was the first to provide oral testimony. For a fuller examination on the testimony I provided, see here.
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Burrillville Town Councilor Ray Trinque
The written testimony of Burrillville resident Stephanie Sloman was briefly highlighted by commission member Jason Olkowski. Sloman’s suggestions are literally packed into a three page document that contains perhaps a hundred suggestions, from raising to fines a power company might pay for noncompliance to banning the construction of power plants in wildlife corridors.
Attorney Lenette Boiselle, who works as a lobbyist for the Northern Rhode island Chamber of Commerce, a group that often supports fossil fuel energy projects in Rhode Island, was observing the hearing. She declined an invitation to deliver testimony.
The next hearing of the commission is to be scheduled for sometime in January. Timing will be more difficult because the General Assembly will be back in session.
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