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Parag Agrawal out at EFSB, leaving two members to decide on Invenergy power plant application



Associate Director for Planning Parag Agrawal is leaving his position at the Rhode Island Department of Planning. One of the duties off the Associate Director for Planning is to serve as one of the three members of the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB). His absence leaves Janet Coit, director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and Margaret Curran, chair of the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission as the only two people on the EFSB.

Under EFSB rules, Agrawal does not qualify for what is known as the holdover provision, under which a person serving on the EFSB may render a decision, even if they have moved on from their current job, if they have heard a substantial amount of the evidence presented. The EFSB has not yet heard any evidence, officially.

The current state of a two person EFSB raises the question of what happens in the event of a one-one vote on licensing the power plant. Under the EFSB rules, a power plant can only be licensed in the event that two of the three members of the board vote yes.

Readers might remember when Governor Gina Raimondo made some quick changes to the make up of the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) which seemingly paved the way for the easy passage of important permits National Grid needed to build their liquefaction facility in the Port of Providence. I have not received an answer to my question about how quickly Agrawal will be replaced and if his replacement will be installed at the EFSB in time to render a decision on Invenergy‘s controversial $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant aimed at the pristine forests of northwest Rhode Island.

“We wish Associate Director Agrawal the best in his endeavors,” said Michael DiBiase, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Administration. “Under his leadership, the Division of Planning adopted a new annual process to revise and approve a Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) and began the process of developing Rhode Island’s Long Range Transportation and Bicycle Master plans, which will set guidelines for the state’s transportation network over the next 20 years. He has been a key player in moving Rhode Island forward, and I appreciate his service to the State.”

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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.