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In response to Fall River water deal with Invenergy, CLF ups the ante



This morning Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) requested that the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) permit oral argument on Invenergy’s request for yet another public comment hearing in Burrillville. CLF also requested a formal ruling from the EFSB on Invenergy’s request, with the ruling reflected in a written Order of the Board.

Invenergy requested the new public comment hearing to present its new plan to secure water to cool the turbines of the company’s proposed $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant aimed at the forests of northwest Rhode Island.

CLF attorneys Jerry Elmer and Max Greene made the request this morning after it came to light on Saturday that Invenergy had secured a deal to truck water in from Fall River through Benn Water, a pool filling company. The deal with Fall River was signed by Benn Water and the Mayor of Fall River on August 17.

The request from CLF notes that on September 15, Invenergy’s counsel stated, “If there is another alternative water supply arrangement that agrees to provide water, you will see that agreement. We will provide that to you.”

At the same September 15 hearing EFSB Chair Margaret Curran told Invenergy’s counsel, “If there were an additional agreement reached with any other entity for another water supply plan, then that certainly would have to come before the Board.”

“However,” notes the request from CLF, “Invenergy’s counsel did not acknowledge the existence of the water contract entered into the previous month.”

In fact, Invenergy has still not acknowledged the existence of its agreement with Benn Water and the City of Fall Fiver as of this writing.

“Invenergy was told directly by the EFSB that it must disclose all relevant water agreements, and yet right up until today Invenergy has failed to disclose the Fall River contract that actually says that the water issue will be provide to ‘the Clear River Energy Center located in Burrillville, Rhode Island,’” said CLF Senior Attorney Jerry Elmer. “It is past time for the EFSB to dismiss the Invenergy docket.”

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The request filed by CLF details the long history of Invenergy’s efforts to secure a source of potable water to cool the turbines of its plant. In the original application, Invenergy told the EFSB that it would draw water from Well 3A of the Pascoag Utility District. That plan fell through.

“Invenergy then sought water from the Harrisville Fire District, but was rebuffed,” notes the request. “Invenergy then sought water from the Nasonville Water District, but was rebuffed. Invenergy then sought water from the City of Woonsocket, but was rebuffed.”

After a long delay in which Invenergy’s application was ruled incomplete by the EFSB for lack of a water plan, Invenergy announced that it had reached a deal with the Town of Johnston for water. That deal is being litigated in Rhode Island Superior Court.

Another water deal that Invenergy signed with the Narragansett Indian Tribe is being contested by the Narragansett Tribal Council, who maintain that Tribal leadership entered the water deal in violation of the Tribal constitution. The Town of Charlestown has been granted intervenor status and the Narragansett Tribal council has motioned for intervenor status.

“For two years,” said Elmer, “Invenergy has told the EFSB and the public so many contradictory, inconsistent things about its water supply (starting with Invenergy’s false statement that it would get water from the Pascoag Utility District) that it is time to dismiss this entire docket.”

CLF argued that Invenergy’s new water plan was a substantial and material change in the application. “What is before the Board today is a whole new proposal for a new power plant,” said CLF on March 21.

Invenergy disagreed with CLF, saying, “I think in response to CLF’s arguments is that this is not a different power plant project that you’re facing. This is the same power plant that you.. were presented with essentially from the very beginning. Yes, there has been a change to the water supply component … but the project otherwise is relatively conceptually the same. Yes, there are some — there are some adjustments that have been made … So to suggest that this is now an entirely new application is just false.”

Last Thursday Invenergy requested a new public comment hearing in Burrillville to present its water plan. CLF argued that Invenergy was agreeing with CLF. In admitting that changes to the application were major enough to require an additional public hearing, Invenergy was admitting that changes to the application were big enough to have the entire application dismissed. Invenergy countered that the changes are not big enough to require the dismissal of the application.

Says Jerry Elmer, “Invenergy’s letter to the EFSB last Thursday was a candid admission that Invenergy’s new water plan is a huge change in the application that may require the pending docket to be dismissed entirely and, at the very least, will require new Advisory Opinions.”

CLF’s request for a formal ruling on its request and a written Order of the Board is necessary for the purposes of a clear record and to facilitate appellate review in the event of an appeal of the EFSB’s final ruling on Invenergy’s application.


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.