Invenergy withdraws one of two FERC lawsuits

John Niland

Invenergy continues to clean up its messes.

In a letter, Invenergy writes, “because the lawsuit has “proven contentious in the Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board [EFSB] proceeding regarding [Invenergy]’s application for the permits necessary for the Project to be constructed” and “in order to remove this issue from being considered in any way in the EFSB proceeding – and to eliminate even the false perception of negative ratepayer impact – [Invenergy] is submitting this notice of withdrawal of the Complaint,” wrote Patricia Alexander, Senior Policy Advisor at the high-priced, international law firm Crowell & Moring LLP, on behalf of Invenergy to the EFSB this morning.

Invenergy brought the lawsuit over the cost of connecting their proposed $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant to the grid. Under current rules, that cost would be borne by Invenergy and run as high as hundreds of millions of dollars. Invenergy, through the lawsuit, sought to have those costs transferred to ratepayers, though Invenergy disagrees with the assertion that ratepayers would be on the hook for the money, writing:

[Invenergy] is prepared to demonstrate to the EFSB that certain assertions by opponents of the Project have misrepresented the facts regarding purported ratepayer impacts were the Commission to grant the relief requested in the Complaint. For example, opponents have falsely asserted that [Invenergy] seeks to “transfer hundreds of millions of dollars of interconnection expenses to ratepayers.” These assertions have apparently been lodged solely in order to foment false concerns. In fact, though, the relief sought in the Complaint could reduce consumer rates over the long term, as will the Project itself once operational.

Jerry Elmer, senior attorney at Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) writes that “Invenergy’s action in withdrawing one of the two pending lawsuits at FERC [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] shows that Invenergy itself cannot make up its mind what it wants to do, and that its initial filing – only a few weeks ago – was unwise and so poorly conceived that even Invenergy could not go through with it.”

Elmer also pointed out that Invenergy has only withdrawn one of two lawsuits currently before the FERC. “The EFSB must still go ahead with Tuesday’s Show Cause Hearing because the other FERC lawsuit pertaining to Invenergy, filed by ISO-New England, is still pending, and the outcome of that lawsuit will also have a huge effect on the pending EFSB case. CLF is prepared to demonstrate at the Show Cause Hearing that the still-pending FERC case makes it completely impossible for Invenergy to keep its promise to the EFSB to be up and running in 2021.”

Though Invenergy has withdrawn their lawsuit, the company still maintains that the assignment of interconnections costs is unjust.

Invenergy “continues to believe that such assignment is demonstrably unjust and unreasonable, and that none of the responses to the Complaint have shown otherwise. Furthermore, [Invenergy] believes it has shown that, given the nature of the relevant upgrades (which consist almost entirely of replacing or relocating existing network facilities), there very likely would be no monetary impact on Rhode Island ratepayers whatsoever. Nevertheless, the relief sought by [Invenergy] has proven contentious in the [EFSB] proceeding regarding [Invenergy]’s application for the permits necessary for the Project to be constructed.”

And, lest “there be any doubt,” Invenergy “remains fully committed to moving forward with permitting and to constructing the Project with all deliberate speed. Indeed, on January 22, 2018, in connection with its ISO-NE Capacity Supply Obligation, [Invenergy] posted additional financial assurance of $4.3 million in furtherance of this commitment.”

On Monday Invenergy terminated their water supply contract with the Narragansett Indian Tribe, another mess of their own creation.

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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. atomicsteve@gmail.com

1 Comment

  1. Conservation Law Foundation Senior Attorney Jerry Elmer just sent the following letter to the EFSB:

    January 24, 2018

    To: The EFSB

    On December 12, 2017, the EFSB ordered a Show Cause Hearing, which is now scheduled for Tuesday, January 30, to address two issues: (a) Invenergy’s water contract with the Narragansetts; and (b) two pending lawsuits at FERC pertaining to Invenergy. The EFSB’s decision on December 12 came one day after CLF and the Town of Burrillville alerted the EFSB to the two pending FERC cases pertaining to Invenergy, and requested the Show Cause Hearing based on the pendency of those two cases. (For reference, CLF attaches a copy of the December 11 Letter.)

    On Monday, January 22, 2018, Invenergy withdrew its water contract with the Narragansetts. Today, Invenergy voluntarily dismissed one of the two pending lawsuits at FERC that CLF (and the Town of Burrillville) wrote to the EFSB about on December 11, 2017. Nevertheless, CLF respectfully emphasizes the continued need for the January 30 Show Cause Hearing.

    Despite recent events, one of the two FERC lawsuits, ER18-349, is still pending. This is the lawsuit, filed under Section 205 of the Federal Power Act, brought by ISO-NE and National Grid against Invenergy. CLF is prepared to demonstrate at the Show Cause Hearing the multiple, material respects in which the outcome of this still-pending lawsuit will directly affect this EFSB proceeding – and, indeed, why the EFSB should and, respectfully, must stay this docket until this FERC lawsuit is resolved. In fact, a review of CLF and Burrillville’s December 11 Letter, which originally requested the Show Cause Hearing, will show that the December 11 Letter was largely about ER18-349, the still-pending lawsuit at FERC.

    Invenergy’s withdrawal of one of the two pending FERC lawsuits has not mooted the need for a Show Cause hearing. In the event that Invenergy requests that that the January 30 Show Cause Hearing not be held, CLF respectfully urges the EFSB to reject Invenergy’s request.

    Jerry Elmer, Senior Attorney, Conservation Law Foundation

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