EFSB issues written order in denial of Burrillville power plant

An artist's rendition of the proposed power plant for Wallum Lake Road in Burrillville.

WARWICK – In a 33-page order issued on Tuesday, Nov. 5, the state Energy Facility Siting Board documented reasons for denying a proposal by Invenergy Thermal, LLC to build a 1,000-megawatt power plant in a forested area off of Wallum Lake Road in Burrillville.

The board voted in June to deny the application by the Chicago-based developer, and issuance of the written order signals what may be the final phase of the four-year proceedings. The company now has ten days to appeal the decision.

The order notes that Invenergy failed to demonstrate the need for the plant to meet the region’s energy needs, pointing to alternative resources in the energy market and falling prices.

“The proceedings in this docket took a long time,” the order notes. “And Invenergy’s case was not helped by the lengthy delays.”

“It is worth noting that the vast majority of delays were caused by the applicant.”

The delays began in 2016 when Pascoag Utility District terminated an agreement to allow the proposed Clear River Energy Center to use water from an unused well to cool plant turbines.

While the company looked to secure alternative water sources, a controversial effort that led to proposals in Woonsocket, Charlestown and Johnston, EFSB members noted that the market changed.

In September of 2018, Independent System Operator New England issued an unprecedented request to terminate a deal for purchase of energy created by the Invenergy plant – known as a Capacity Supply Obligation – citing the delays.

The order noted that Invenergy had initially relied on the CSO to demonstrate need, predicting that the company would obtain additional agreements.

The ESFB ruling points out the ease with which replacement resources were acquired to fill the CSO and references a “remarkable” increase in renewable energy sources over the past several years.

“Further support for the board’s findings that the facility is not needed is the fact that capacity prices have decreased consistently every year, from $17.73 per kilowatt month in FCS-9 in 2015 to $3.80 per kilowatt month in 2019,” the order states.

If Invenergy appeals the decision before the upcoming deadline, proceedings would go before the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

Full text of the order can be found here.

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