On the first day of the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB)’s Final Hearing on Invenergy‘s $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant aimed at the pristine forests of northwest Rhode Island, previously redacted portions of the testimony of Burrillville’s expert witness, Glenn Walker, were released to the public for the first time.
How much more money ratepayers are being forced to spend for Invenergy capacity as compared to alternatives on the market?
The proposed Invenergy power plant currently has a Capacity Supply Obligation (CSO) to provide electricity at “an associated price of $7.03/kW-month locked in for seven years,” said Walker in his now un-redacted testimony. Had rate payers secured this same electricity two years later, the falling costs of electricity would save consumers $2.40/kW-month, or $13.9 million per year. Further, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), when it made its decision to support the building of the plant, could not have predicted the fall in price from $7.03 to $4.63/kW-month, said Walker. The PUC believed, incorrectly, that the power plant would save consumers up to $79.8 million per year. In fact, the savings may be as little as $4 million per year, and these “savings” may be “reduced to zero in the near future,” said Walker.
This directly undermines Invenergy’s argument that there is a cost benefit to building this plant, maintains CLF.
Will Invenergy be able to be operational by June 2021, as Invenergy has repeatedly promised the ISO, the EFSB, and the public?
Invenergy maintained that “pending EFSB approval of the Project by the second quarter in 2018,” the company would “be able to issue a limited notice to proceed for… equipment so it can be designed, fabricated and delivered” to meet a scheduled June 1, 2021 “operation date.” The hearings, however will not be done until the fourth quarter of 2018, and court challenges could further delay construction.
It should also be noted that National Grid, the company that would build the interconnection between the proposed power plant and the grid, has indicated that construction will take 48 months. “While this schedule can be slightly compressed,” notes Walker, it is highly probable that the interconnection will also result in a delayed operation date.
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This directly undermines Invenergy’s credibility on a key issue that has been in contention, maintains CLF.
It should be “immediately obvious to readers why Invenergy has been so keen to keep this information away from the public,” wrote Jerry Elmer.
Other points of interest at the hearing:
Invenergy made a surprise request that all references to the water supply contract with the Narragansett Indian Tribe be stricken from the record. This request, which Invenergy characterized as merely cleaning up the record, was challenged by Burrillville Attorney Michael McElroy and CLF Attorney Jerry Elmer. A final decision on this request will come at the next meeting.
The EFSB began the Final Hearings without board member Parag Agrawal, who stepped down from his position at the Rhode Island Department of Public Planning and has left only two board members, a quorum, to decide on Invenergy’s application. EFSB Chair Margaret Curran said that Agrawal’s position will soon be posted, though whether the position will be filled in time to have Agrawal’s replacement join the EFSB hearing in progress is unknown.
The day before the Final Hearing Alex Kuffner at the Providence Journal revealed that, “Invenergy and the Town of Burrillville have resolved a months-long dispute over alleged misrepresentations about the developer’s $1-billion power plant proposal after the town acknowledged signing on to statements about the project that had been ‘misconstrued.’”
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