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More delays as EFSB shuts down Invenergy power plant hearings for two months



“What today’s postponement means is that Invenergy is a zombie. It may not realize yet that it’s dead, but it’s dead,” said Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) Senior Attorney Jerry Elmer at the conclusion of Wednesday morning’s Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) hearing.

Last Thursday Invenergy revealed that in an unprecedented move, ISO New England, the nonprofit that governs energy markets in New England, had requested that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) cancel Invenergy’s Capacity Supply Obligation (CSO).

What this means is that ISO New England does not believe that Invenergy’s $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant, proposed for the pristine forests o northwest Rhode Island, can be built in time to supply the electricity promised. Further, it clearly demonstrates that there is no need for the power plant.

“It is not uncommon for power plants in New England to be delayed and behind schedule. It happened with the Footprint Plant in Salem Harbor, Massachusetts, it happened with the Towantic Plant in Connecticut,” said Elmer. “The idea that the ISO would discontinue the Capacity Supply Obligation is completely unprecedented and is a clear signal that everybody – everybody in this room is able to read – the EFSB is able to read – that the plant is not needed.”

Here’s Jerry Elmer’s full interview. The other voice you hear is Rhode Island Public Radio‘s environment reporter Avory Brookins:

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Invenergy’s entire case on the need for the plant rested on the fact that, “the plant has a CSO, therefore it’s needed,” said Elmer. Using Invenergy’s own argument, “we know that the plant is not needed,” said Elmer.

Margaret Curran, chair of the EFSB, granted the postponement at the request of all parties involved, including CLF, the Town of Burrillville, Invenergy and the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER). The postponement is to last until FERC has rendered a decision on ISO’s request to terminate the CSO.

Chicago-based Invenergy attorney Michael Blazer said that “our expectation is that [the FERC decision] will be in November.” ISO New England, said Blazer, requested a decision by November 19.

As for Burrillville’s motion to have the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (PUC) advisory opinion thrown out, Elmer believes the EFSB may hear that motion in October. (See here for more on this development)

“Invenergy relies on the PUC advisory opinion, saying that there is a need for the plant, that is obviously completely out of date now,” said Elmer. “And in the event that the EFSB does grant Burrillville’s motion to reject the PUC advisory opinion… then that will be another nail in Invenergy’s coffin. It is a coffin that is getting many, many well-earned nails.”

Here’s the EFSB hearing in full:

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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.