Energy

Energy Center’s Power-Line Project Expands Impact

WARWICK, R.I. — The proposed Burrillville power plant is still being deliberated by the state Energy Facilities Siting Board. Nevertheless, National Grid is going ahead with a $47.2 million project to connect the fossil fuel facility to the power grid.

At a May 23 preliminary hearing for the interconnection project, National Grid promised not to cut down any trees or start digging until the $1 billion Clear River Energy Center is approved.

“If the power plant doesn’t move forward, the transmission line doesn’t move forward,” said David Beron, project manager for National Grid’s interconnection buildout.

During the recent Public Utilities Commission hearing, the town of Burrillville’s attorney, Michael McElroy, said the interconnection project will do more harm to fish and wildlife during construction than the building of the natural gas power plant. Among other damage, the interconnection project will clear 64 acres of forestland and displace 10 acres of wetlands. The interconnection project therefore requires a heightened environmental review, McElroy said.

Four permits are needed from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and three from Burrillville, including a variance for excessive height for the towers. The Department of Transportation and Army Corp of Engineers must also issue permits.

Chicago-based Invenergy Thermal Development LLC is the developer and would-be owner of the proposed power plant. The company is paying National Grid to develop the interconnection project and, if built, will pay to operate it.

Here are some details of the interconnection project:

Construction of 6.8 miles of new power lines and towers.
Expansion of two 1.6-mile stretches of existing power lines and towers.
Remodeling of a 280-foot section of power lines and towers at the Sherman Road collector and distribution station.
The towers can reach a maximum height of 120 feet.
The width of the existing power line and service roads will be widened to 300 feet.

Here is the schedule for the final phase of hearings for the Clear River Energy Center:
July 3, direct testimony from Invenergy.
Aug. 7, direct testimony from other parties.
Sept. 1, rebuttal testimony and supplemental advisory opinions.
Sept. 27, rebuttal of rebuttal testimony and supplemental advisory opinions.
Oct. 1, close discovery.
Oct. 3, witness testimony and exhibits.
Oct. 9, objections to exhibits and/or witnesses and supporting memorandums.
Oct. 17, 18, 19, procedural hearings and motions.

Evidentiary hearings are scheduled for Oct. 31, Nov. 1, 2, 10, 20, 29 and 30, and Dec. 4, 7, 8, 12 and 18. If necessary, three hearing dates are reserved in January.

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  1. Love the map. It says it all to those who have not yet "gotten the picture" and are still wondering why so many people are upset with this proposed site.

    One vital aspect of map that is not displayed: the cost to the public for the acquisition of each of these forests over the course of the past two generations. Together with the Boy and Cub Scout reservation, which is privately held by those organizations, the contiguous protected forests displayed on the map amount to over 25 square miles. The cost would certainly be millions and millions. And not shown are the lands protected by the Burrillville and Glocester land trusts of RI, and the Windham and Metacomet land trusts of Ct and Ma. These would add a few more square miles and another million or two in dollars. A data base of the threatened flora a fauna within the protected lands would be revealing, too. However, overlay maps of the region are available at the respective state DEM’s that display the conservation values those agencies have placed on these lands.

  2. From Paul A. Roselli- president of the Burrillville Land Trust
    Thanks Tim for a good overview of the EFSB hearings and the NationalGrid project. This area that Tim talks about also includes all 214 acres owned by the Burrillville Land Trust – a private land trust in the Town of Burrillville. The land that we own is in front and behind the proposed power plant. Since 1999, the Burrillville Land Trust has worked to preserve and conserve land adjacent to existing state owned and private owned open space lands. We try to increase the size of preserved properties for habitat and species and to reduce forest fragmentation. While the map shows only points, the true size of these open space and conserved areas is truly impressive. Once you see the boundaries associated with these points, you learn the reasons why all RI environmental groups are opposed to the siting of this power plant. This area accounts for nearly 10% of all the preserved open space in Rhode Island. That is not only a lot of land, but a lot of tax payer supported open space and recreational bond referendum money approved by over 60% of RI voters statewide. The conserved lands also spill over into Connecticut and Massachusetts making this area one of the largest conserved areas in all of New England. As a matter of fact, there is so much interest in preserving this area for the natural abundant biodiversity and clean water resources that Audubon, the Nature Conservancy, RI DEM, the Burrillville Land Trust and especially the Town of Burrillville and more have worked together to preserve and conserve this section of Rhode Island. Also not depicted is a National Park that stretches into the eastern half of Burrillville and the Blackstone River Watershed. The watershed accounts for nearly 90% of all the water used by the northern half of the state. So, why are many opposed to the siting of a fossil fuel power plant? Well, once you learn the facts you would oppose it too.

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