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Court rules in favor of Invenergy and Johnston: Water sale an ‘ordinary municipal water supply purpose’




Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein issued a ruling today in favor of Invenergy and the Town of Johnston, allowing the municipality to sell water to the proposed power plant and ship the water by truck to Burrillville for the purpose of cooling the plant’s turbines and other uses.

“The Court finds no genuine issue of material fact with respect to the legality of the Water Supply Agreement under the 1915 Act and accompanying regulations,” wrote Silverstein. “Specifically, the Court finds that the Water Supply Agreement and performance pursuant to it constitute an ‘ordinary municipal water supply purpose.’ under P.L. 1915, ch. 1278, § 18.”

Silverstein also writes that, “Public policy considerations regarding the use of water purchased from Providence Water Supply Board and resold by a municipality are better left to the province of the legislature.”

The Attorney for the Town of Johnston in this case is a member of the that legislature: Senator William Conley Jr (Democrat, District 18, East Providence).

The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), who along with the Town of Burrilliville opposes the proposed power plant, issued a statement saying, “Today’s decision does not change the fact that Invenergy’s polluting fracked gas and diesel oil plant is unneeded and would cause unacceptable environmental harm. The final decision whether to allow Invenergy to pave over a forest to build this dirty plant remains with the EFSB. CLF confident the board will make the right decision and deny the permit. We are reviewing the decision and have not yet made a decision regarding an appeal.”

Can we please ask a favor?

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“It’s the Town’s position that irrespective of the judge’s decision, Invenergy’s water supply plan for the proposed 1000 megawatt power plant is inadequate to properly and safely supply sufficient water, year round, for the 20+ year life expectancy of the proposed plant,” said Burrillville Town Manager Michael Wood. “We are confident that the EFSB will see this charade for what it is.”   

The Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) will be meeting in June to decide the final fate of Invenergy’s application for the proposed $1 billion fracked gas and diesel burning power plant, aimed at the irreplaceable forests of northwest Rhode Island.

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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.