Final hearing stage on Burrillville power plant begins

Final hearing stage on Burrillville power plant begins

BURRILLVILLE – After 2.5 years of studies, reports and advisories, the Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board is embarking on the final hearing of Invenergy Thermal Development LLC’s application to construct the Clear River Energy Center Power Plant in Burrillville.

On Thursday, April 26, opening statements were made to the EFSB by Special Counsel Michael McElroy for the town of Burrillville, attorney Jerry Elmer for the Conservation Law Foundation, Michael Blazer, senior vice president and chief legal officer for Invenergy LLC.

“We are relieved to see the final hearings start” said Michael Wood, Burrillville town manager, in a news release from the town. “This is an issue of importance to the entire state, and in fact most cities and towns and the attorney general have filed resolutions in opposition.”

In short, McElroy stated that during the final hearing the town’s experts would demonstrate that the power plant is not needed, is not cost-justified and would cause unacceptable harm to the environment, not only in the Town of Burrillville but throughout Rhode Island and significant parts of the northeast region.

These conclusions were not reached lightly or quickly. The town hired experts in environment, air, water, traffic, energy and more. Expert conclusions were examined at length by the Burrillville Planning Board and Zoning Board of Review. Findings, across the board, as McElroy stated, were that the fossil-fuel power plant is not needed, would be a pollution nightmare and “… cannot meet the burden of proving either lowest reasonable cost or socio-economic enhancement."

"Burrillville residents agree: they do not want another fossil-fuel power plant in their community and it is not needed to supply power to the state or region – short or long-term," it states.

The purpose of the final hearing is to present the case that the plant is not needed, is not cost-justified and would cause unacceptable harm to the environment.

"The town has a very strong case. The town’s independent experts will be heard by the EFSB, which is legally commissioned to reach a fair and impartial decision," states the release. "The EFSB must be purposeful in its consideration of the proposal – and the town of Burrillville believes that, when the EFSB hears the testimony, and considers the voices of 31 cities and towns, it will rule that the plant is not needed and will cause unacceptable harm to the state’s environment. In the words of McElroy, “… the evidence in this matter will demonstrate that this board should not, indeed by law it cannot, license this plant."

Wood said that in his opinion the most important revelation to come from the opening statements was the apparent lack of credibility of Invenergy’s consultant, Ryan Hardy.

“It’s ironic. If the original hearing schedule had been adhered to and the EFSB members had believed Mr. Hardy’s financial projections, they might have rendered a decision approving the power plant," he said. "As it turns out, the time delays appear to support the Town’s position on need; a position that might have been ignored back in 2016.”

The final hearing stage itself continues throughout the late summer and fall of 2018. The EFSB has tentatively scheduled the final hearing to continue to the following dates:

• July 19, 24 and 25

• Aug. 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23

• Sept. 4, 5, 6, 12, 18, 20, 26 and 27

• Oct. 10, 16, 17, 30 and 31

All sessions of the final hearing are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. at Hearing Room A of the Public Utilities Commission office building, 89 Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick unless posted otherwise. Hearings are open to the public but public comment will not be taken. The final hearing is expected to be live streamed. Visit the Energy Facility Siting Board website at www.ripuc.org/efsb .