Invenergy’s Contempt for Rhode Islanders on Full Display

Bethany Kwoka | @bkwoka

It’s been quite a season for Invenergy. From communities across Rhode Island having their voices silenced to new information confirming that New England doesn’t need Invenergy’s dirty power, a lot has happened since summer slid into fall.

Invenergy Calls Rhode Island Resolutions “Irrelevant”

Over the course of the past year, a total of 35 cities and towns, including 32 of Rhode Island’s 39 municipalities, have passed resolutions against Invenergy’s proposed fracked-gas plant. Rhode Islanders have almost universally objected to the dirty power plant, knowing how much harm it would cause the environment and their communities.

Yet in October, in a hearing before the Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board – the group that decides whether Invenergy can build a fossil fuel power plant in Burrillville – dismissed these resolutions as “irrelevant” and a “waste of time” (Invenergy’s words to describe the resolutions, not the Siting Board’s).

It’s clear Invenergy is looking for profit over people, as almost every city and town in the state opposes the plant – and yet the company has worked tirelessly to silence its critics. In this case, they succeeded. The Siting Board agreed to ignore the objections of all but one of those 35 towns, allowing only Burrillville’s to stand.

It’s no coincidence that the towns that passed resolutions are the same ones that also refused to sell Invenergy the water needed to power the plant. Rhode Islanders now look to Burrillville, the home turf of the Invenergy battle, to block this unnecessary and unwanted dirty power plant.

More Evidence New England Doesn’t Need Invenergy

Since it first proposed the power plant, Invenergy has argued that New England needs the energy it would provide. However, on November 1 the company admitted that the regional grid operator had bounced Invenergy out of the all-important upcoming annual energy auction.

To explain: every year, New England’s regional grid operator holds a “Forward Capacity Auction” in which power generators bid to supply the electricity New England’s homes and businesses will need three years from now. Participating in this auction is typically how energy companies prove its new plants are needed – why else would the grid operator choose them to provide energy, after all. In this case, our grid operator disqualified Invenergy from even participating, leaving half of the power Invenergy hoped to sell from its new power plant unclaimed. (You can learn more about this blow to Invenergy in this blog.)

Being disqualified from this capacity auction is a big deal – whether or not an energy company can sell the power it plans to produce is vital for the Siting Board to know. If Invenergy can’t sell its power, why should it build a plant in the first place?

More Evidence Invenergy Doesn’t Care About New England

From the start of this now two-years-and-running permitting process, Invenergy has been plagued by its own questionable decisions. The company has routinely failed to disclose relevant information to the Siting Board and the public. This includes information about a water contract with Fall River, and now the knowledge that its power plant is barred from the annual capacity auction. Invenergy also embroiled itself in controversy recently by announcing a deal with the Narragansett Indian Tribe as a backup water supply – a deal that was may have been made illegally.

The irony in all of this is that Invenergy is considered a major renewable energy company elsewhere in the country. Even as it pushes its dirty energy power plant here in Rhode Island, the company is working with GE to develop the country’s largest wind farm in Oklahoma. And Invenergy’s CEO, Michael Polsky, is considered by many to be a pioneering entrepreneur in the wind industry. That pioneering spirit, however, seems to have been left at the Rhode Island border on this one.

Instead, Invenergy has failed to be open with the Siting Board and Rhode Islanders about its plans here and its contracts. For this reason and more, CLF has asked the Siting Board to revisit the idea that Invenergy is ready for a permit to build, let alone ready for a hearing to decide whether or not to give them a permit! Rhode Islanders have made it clear that they don’t want this project in their state, New England doesn’t need the energy the company intends to sell, and the U.S. (and our climate) can’t afford another dirty power plant. Burrillville, CLF, and Rhode Island all agree that Invenergy should not be allowed to build this unwanted, unneeded power plant.

Join Us for a Community Meeting on the Case

We aren’t going to let Invenergy silence Rhode Island voices in this fight. Please join us for a public forum on Thursday, November 30, at 5:30PM at the Friends Meeting House in Providence. We’ll talk through our case against Invenergy and the most recent actions taken by CLF and the Town of Burrillville to stop the plant. We’ll have time for questions, and you can learn how to get involved in this fight.

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