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Updated: ISO New England cancels proposed Invenergy power plant’s electricity supply commitment



“This means that the ISO is confirming, in writing, in a filing with FERC, that the ISO does not need and does not want this power plant,” said CLF (Conservation Law Foundation) Senior Attorney Jerry Elmer. “ISO is kicking this power plant out of the ISO New England system. This is the first time in the history of the ISO that this step has ever, ever been taken. CLF believes that this is a fatal blow to Invenergy. If Invenergy does not do the honorable thing of withdrawing its application, CLF will file a motion to dismiss the application.”

In a surprise announcement ahead of the final hour of testimony at the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) on Thursday, Invenergy lawyer Michael Blazer announced that ISO-New England has requested that FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) terminate the proposed power plant’s Capacity Supply Obligation (CSO).

ISO New England justified the decision by saying that, “little progress has been made to commence construction since Clear River Unit 1 first obtained a CSO in the tenth FCA (Forward Capacity Auction)” and that “The commercial operation date for the project is currently reported to be later than June 1, 2021.”

Invenergy is the company trying to license a proposed $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant aimed at the pristine forests of Burrillville, Rhode Island. The plant has been delayed by long hearings and Invenergy’s search for an adequate water source, among other things.

ISO New England requested the termination because they do not believe that the power plant can be completed in time to deliver the power it has promised. ISO New England has requested that FERC issue a termination order.

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Here’s video of Invenergy Attorney Michael Blazer announcing the cancellation of Invenergy’s CSO:


CLF Attorney Jerry Elmer addresses the EFSB about the CSA cancellation.

Update: As a result of the termination of its CSO Invenergy has lost its “right to any payments related to that CSO.” This means that Invenergy cannot sell its CSO for an estimated $20 million in profit. (See: here.)

Update: As noted by CLF Attorney Jerry Elmer above, this is the first time in the 22-year history of ISO New England that a CSO has been cancelled.


From CLF Senior Attorney Jerry Elmer:

As you will have heard, today, September 20, the ISO, the nonprofit entity that runs the New England electricity grid, terminated the Capacity Supply Obligation (CSO) that Invenergy had acquired in January 2016, for one turbine (Turbine One).  This effectively kills the Invenergy project.  Invenergy opponents won an enormous victory today.  CLF will be conferring with Invenergy’s lawyers over the weekend, and we expect that Invenergy may withdraw its application (despite what Invenergy’s Mike Blazer says in the Providence Journal). In the event that Invenergy does not withdraw its application by itself, CLF will ask the EFSB to close the docket or simply deny the application.  Today’s development is a huge win for opponents of Invenergy.

Here are some additional facts:

  • In the entire 22-year history of the ISO, the ISO has never before involuntarily terminated the CSO on a proposed power plant. Today’s action is an unmistakable sign that the ISO does not want and does not need the electricity from Invenergy.

  • Even if Invenergy does not withdraw its application, it is a virtual certainty that the plant cannot be built.  The stream of income that Invenergy would have received from its CSO  (called “capacity payments”) represented the profit that Invenergy hoped to make from the proposed plant. With no profit, there is no incentive to build the plant.

  • Invenergy has boxed itself in to a no-win situation:  Invenergy has consistently told the EFSB that the way you can tell that the plant is needed is that the ISO had given Invenergy a CSO.  Invenergy’s only argument that the plant is needed has just disappeared.  Thus, even if Invenergy does not withdraw its application, it is highly probable that the EFSB will now conclude that the plant is not needed.  And the reasoning that the EFSB will use to decide that the plant is not needed is the logic that Invenergy has been urging on the EFSB for three years.

  • There is more bad news coming for Invenergy.  On Friday of next week, September 28, the ISO will likely announce that Invenergy’s Turbine Two is disqualified from the next Forward Capacity Auction (FCA-13, to be held in February 2019).  The ISO should do this because all of the permitting proceedings for Invenergy link Turbine One and Turbine Two.  Now that the ISO has kicked out Turbine One, the decision on September 28 regarding Turbine Two is almost certain.  Next week’s announcement will be like the other shoe falling.

  • The ISO does not want or need Invenergy.  Terminating the CSO on Turbine One is an unprecedented move.  If Invenergy doesn’t withdraw the application, CLF will move to dismiss the case.  If the EFSB does not dismiss the case now, the EFSB is still unlikely to grant a permit because there is no longer any argument at all that the plant is needed.

[This story has been updated]

Other coverage:

Providence Journal: Burrillville power plant proposal hits possible deal-breaking snag

Eco-Rhode Island: Power-Purchase Setback for Burrillville Power Plant

Here’s the letter from ISO New England to FERC:

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Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for half a decade. Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading.