Power Plant Opponents Want Answers from Invenergy


WARWICK, R.I. — The public hearings continue in the fight to build the state’s largest power plant and many residents are still looking for answers.

On Sept. 21 the public got its first chance to tell the Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) what it thought of the recent release of 12 advisory opinions, the state and local assessments that will inform the board for its decision to accept or deny the $700 million fossil fuel project proposed for Burrillville.

During the recent listening session, most opponents focused on the Chicago-based developer’s failure to secure a water supply to cool the natural gas/diesel power plant, a fact that was noted in six of the 12 advisory opinions.

Meg Kerr of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island said the absence of information from Invenergy Thermal Development LLC about water has prevented the habitat protection organization from rendering a complete review of the project’s environmental impacts.

“We don’t have data from Invenergy. We can’t make decisions without complete information,” Kerr said during the public hearing at Toll Gate High School.

Kerr and others noted that emissions from the proposed power plant would jeopardize efforts to reduce greenhouse gases in Rhode Island.

“Adding a facility with a 40-year lifespan is not going to help us reach those goals,” Kerr said.

Burrillville resident Mary Bailey noted that the Clear River Energy Center will release up to 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide a day.

“It’s not a clean plant. If it were a clean plant they wouldn’t have to apply for a major pollution permit,” she said.

All three EFSB members attended the hearing but declined to answer questions, in particular, regarding the energy facility’s inability to follow local rules for noise and state regulations for building near wetlands.

Overall the scarcity of information and lack of accountability from Invenergy frustrated many living near the proposed site. Lifelong resident Kenneth Putnam Jr., 76, said Invenergy has yet to submit blueprints for the power plant.

“They have not given you folks or us any answers to anything they are going to do up there. They are going to be able to do anything they want because they have not told us anything,” he said.

Another opponent claimed the project would be twice the size of the Providence Place mall.

The failure of critical data prompted the town of Burrillville and the Conservation Law Foundation to file motions to dismiss Invenergy’s application. Invenergy, meanwhile, has sought a 30-day extension to name its water supplier.

Putnam’s son, Brian Putnam, has drilled water wells for 25 years. During that time, the water table has dropped across Burrillville, he said, noting that climate change is going to bring longer droughts and thereby reduce the local water supply even more.

John McMullan of the UA Local 51 union of plumbers and pipefitters said the nearly 1,000-megawatt project will cost $700 million to build, compared to $300 million for the 30-megawatt Deepwater Wind project off Block Island.

“We do realize that the technology and the cost is not there yet to replace an entire power plant. That’s a reality,” McMullan said.

Two more public hearings are scheduled: Oct. 3 in Burrillville and Oct. 13 in Warwick. The EFSB is expected to rule on the power plant by early 2017.


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  1. This is good news—the Audubon Society fully committed to the fight against the power plant. What are The Nature Conservancy and Save the Bay doing currently? Have they had their meeting with Governor Raimondo, which was their plan when they jointly announced their criticisms of the power plant two months ago?

    And when will we see joint action taken? Twenty-four is the count I arrive at of the conservation, climate, and preservation organizations who have spoken out against the plant. But the forum that really counts is the Energy Facility Siting Board. Can’t Audubon or one of the other big ones round up all the rest and sign a joint statement against the power plant and present it at the last as-yet-to-be-scheduled EFSB public hearing? The ad hoc citizen’s groups, principally Keep Rhode Island Beautiful, based in Burrillville, have done all the heavy lifting to this point. Its time the big boys and gals took a leadership position commensurate with their resources and influence, and take that last step: forging a coalition with a commonly agreed upon criticism of the power plant. I hope Audubon’s testimony before the Energy Facility Siting Board a week ago is the first step in that direction, and—given the late hour—the next steps will come rapidly.

  2. One important thing to bring up is John Niland lied to ISO-NE last week when he told See the 5th paragraph in the article where he says to ISO-NE that:

    “Our proposal had been that we would put that water through our own treatment system to clean up that well,” John Niland, Invenergy’s development director, told the ISO-NE Consumer Liaison Group meeting on Thursday.

    He lies here by stating “we” (Invenergy) would put that water through “our own" treatment system…. Now, compare that statement to the original “Letter of Intent” between Invenergy and PUD. Nowhere in that document does it state that Invenergy would treat the water. After they would have paid to build it, PUD then owns it and is responsible for it; Invenergy just would’ve paid for the initial construction and then paid a premium for the water through a water supply agreement, with none of the responsibility of maintenance, ownership or the risk that comes with it.

    See the link here: and pay close attention to “Sec 3”, PUD shall be responsible for the construction and operation of the treatment facility. Then you refer to “Sec. 7” and Invenergy basically indemnified themselves of any harm should pollution occur, the well doesn’t deliver, law suits or claims arise, etc. They would’ve walked away leaving PUD to hold the problem. Pretty clever, in time it would’ve bankrupted PUD had they executed an agreement. This is the same thing they would do should one of the delivery trucks ever flip over on Route 100 and spew out 8,000 gallons of diesel or ammonia. They write any liability off what so ever, sit back, make money, pay off politicians to pretend life is great; while northern RI suffers with depleted resources, wrecked environment, threatened water, added pollution and loss of wildlife; all for 2.9 million a year. Over the course of 20 years the $92 million might pay for two of the town’s budgets.

    For obvious reasons this should be brought to the attention of the EFSB at their next hearing.

    Niland lied!

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