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Conservation group asks Rhode Island to dismiss Invenergy gas plant application

The Conservation Law Foundation made a renewed push to block Invenergy LLC's proposed gas-fired Clear River Energy Center in Rhode Island, saying the company did not provide adequate information in its project application.

The foundation filed a motion Jan. 26 with the Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board claiming that Invenergy violated state law and asking that the docket for the proposed $700 million project be dismissed.

"The company's plan to build enormous, expensive and unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure flies in the face of state policy and public will, yet they continue to go forward with new plans that raise more questions than answers," CLF attorney Max Greene said. "It's time for the state to recognize these repeated and glaring deficiencies and shut down this project once and for all."

The supplemental motion came after the CLF and the town of Burrillville, R.I., filed requests to dismiss the application in September 2016 due to Invenergy's alleged failure to obtain a water supply for the plant and other deficiencies. Invenergy later provided other information on the project, as well as a water supply plan, but the environmental advocacy group said the additional material was "not sufficient."

Among other issues, the CLF said Invenergy had not answered questions about the potential environmental effects of foregoing a sewer hook-up at the plant or installing new infrastructure such as a water filling station, septic tank and leaching field. The group also claimed the developer did not provide information to the board on the environmental impacts of trucking water to and from the facility and the effects of a newly proposed dry cooling system on the facility's greenhouse gas emissions.

The motion went on to say Invenergy violated the state Energy Facility Siting Act and the board's rules by depriving six relevant agencies with the information they needed to render advisory opinions on the project, even though Invenergy submitted its application to the board almost 15 months ago.

The group said that because Invenergy had not yet submitted all necessary information, the board cannot meet a statutory deadline to convene a final hearing on the application within 45 days after advisory opinions are submitted. All advisory opinions were due Sept. 13, 2016, which would have required a final hearing to start by Oct. 31, 2016.

"Unless this docket is closed now, the Town of Burrillville, CLF, other parties, and the [board] itself will all be forced to expend unending amounts of time and money on litigating a power plant proposal that remains incomplete well over a year after this docket was opened," the Jan. 26 motion stated.

Invenergy did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but it has said the roughly 1,000-MW plant could help fill a capacity need in New England. The Clear River Energy Center has faced opposition from some Rhode Island lawmakers who fear the project will present health risks and lower property values. But a committee of the state legislature rejected legislation that would have allowed local residents to vote for or against the project. (Rhode Island siting board Docket No. SB 2015-06)