Energy

Invenergy Wants Ratepayers to Fund Proposed Power Plant’s Connection to Regional Grid

Rhode Island’s Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) wants to know more about Invenergy’s interconnection problem regarding the Clear River Energy Center proposed for the woods of Burrillville. And according to the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), it’s a big deal.

In a Dec. 11 letter to the EFSB, CLF is asking the three-member board to suspend Invenergy’s application until two lawsuits before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are resolved.

In the first lawsuit, Invenergy is refusing to sign an agreement to connect the proposed fossil fuel power plant to the electric grid. ISO New England, the operator of the regional power grid, and National Grid are asking federal regulators to approve the deal anyway. In the second lawsuit, the Chicago-based energy company is asking FERC to exempt it from paying up to $164 million to fund the interconnection. Invenergy has said that money would simply be a “windfall” for ratepayers.

Invenergy has relied on ISO New England reports to justify its nearly 1,000-megawatt natural gas/diesel facility. But the Illinois developer is now challenging the grid operator over paying for a grid connection.

“In other words, Invenergy is seeking to avoid interconnection costs that are its responsibility under the FERC-approved tariff,” CLF senior attorney Jerry Elmer said.

In the lawsuit, ISO New England describes Invenergy as having no basis for the challenge and the appeal is an “attempt to shirk paying for upgrades” at the 11th hour.

The group representing the six New England governors, New England States Committee on Electricity, and energy advocates Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel and the New England Power Pool all contest Invenergy’s plea, arguing that ratepayers would shoulder the cost.

CLF believes there is no good outcome for Invenergy’s lawsuits. If Invenergy wins, then the interconnection cost will be paid by ratepayers. If it fails, Invenergy will have to post millions of dollars for building permits, which Elmer predicted the company will not do.

“In either case, we now know that Invenergy’s proposed fracked-gas and diesel-oil power plant will probably never be built,” Elmer said.

In a Dec. 1 letter to the EFSB, Invenergy wrote that the lawsuits are necessary to resolve the few remaining elements of the interconnection agreement.

The EFSB is expected to discuss the letter and the interconnection issue at its Dec. 12 at its office in Warwick, at 10:30 a.m. CLF was denied a request to speak, prompting the organization to submit a letter.

A prior hearing, scheduled for 9:30 a.m., will address a request by the town of Burrillville for an independent environmental analysis and the appointment of an independent expert to study adverse environmental impacts of the proposed power plant.

Also, Invenergy is seeking approval of a request to shield information from the public in recently submitted testimony. The town of Charlestown is requesting money for costs it has incurred since receiving intervenor status, such as legal fees and expert analysis.

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  1. This dinosaur, fueled by the greed of madmen needs to come to an end. Too much controversy over the construction of this plant and the need clearly is not there. Now Invenergy expects the rate payers to shoulder the cost of the transition line installation for almost 7 miles is blasted, out of control capitalism at its worst.

    EFSB, do RI a favor and send them back to their Sweet Home, Chicago.

  2. After they’ve clear cut a pristine forest in a tiny town where their fracked gas plant will not only pollute the air that we breathe but use hundreds of thousands of gallons of water from the public water supply. Now this huge out-of-state corporation wants the public to pay for their connection to the grid? It’s absurd.
    Are you listening, Gina? Or did the Inenvergy’s campaign contribution put you in their pocket and on their side? You have the power to influence the outcome. Don’t ignore the people who voted for a pro-environment governor.

  3. You should be interviewing Douglas Gablinske, head of Rhode Islanders for Affordable Energy for his reaction to this news that Invenergy is suing to place the cost of its interconnection on the bills of the ratepayers.

    Rhode Islanders for Affordable Energy, whose million dollar print, radio, and TV advertising campaign is paid for by Invenergy, has had been making one central pitch to the public: "Build the Cleary River Energy Center and you’ll save money on your electric bill."

    Since, with Invenergy’s suit on file, not even a tissue can now that argument, it will be interesting to hear how Mr. Gablinske and RIFAE explain this development.

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