Unwanted Invenergy Plant Faces Powerful Setbacks

Energy grid operator walks away from proposed fracked gas power plant in Burrillville.

Jerry Elmer

In an unprecedented display of no confidence, ISO terminated its legal relationship with Invenergy. It’s yet another nail in the coffin on this unneeded, unwanted, fracked-gas power plant.

Invenergy has been trying to build a 1,000-megawatt fracked gas and diesel oil power plant in the forest near Burrillville, RI for almost three years. It had promised the energy grid operator, called ISO New England, that it would have a fully functioning plant online by 2019. But with 2019 fast approaching and no shovels in the ground, ISO has seen the writing on the wall. They determined that it’s impossible for the plant to generate energy by its deadline. So ISO walked away from Invenergy.

Further Proof Invenergy Plant Is Not Needed

Throughout the permitting process, particularly during its multi-month Final Hearing, Invenergy has tried to demonstrate that its plant is needed in New England. But time and again we’ve seen that in fact, this plant is not needed and should not be built. As CLF has shown previously – and as Robert Fagan from Synapse Energy Economics has testified on behalf of CLF – our region does not need the energy this plant will produce.

We don’t need this power because overall energy demand in the region is declining while clean, renewable energy like wind and solar adds more power to our grid. As we continue to build out more local clean energy, we’ll need less and less power from dirty plants like Invenergy. This plant is obsolete before it’s even been built.

Even ISO, in charge of operating our energy grid, has lost confidence in Invenergy. The energy company had a legal relationship with ISO to provide energy to our grid in the future – a relationship ISO terminated late last month. Saying, in effect, that it no longer planned to use the energy Invenergy planned to produce. ISO has always had the power to kick a plant out of the electricity grid; however, booting Invenergy was the first time it has done so.

ISO even took it one step further the following week, when they fully disqualified Invenergy from participating in the upcoming Forward Capacity Auction. (Every year, ISO conducts an auction to ensure there will be enough energy available three years in the future. Energy generators like Invenergy can bid in and win a legal relationship to provide our grid energy.) By disqualifying both of Invenergy’s two turbines from even participating, ISO is showing that our electricity grid doesn’t need the Invenergy plant.

Invenergy Would Be a Bad Deal for New England

Not only does New England not need the power Invenergy would produce, this plant would cause unacceptable environmental harm to the region. From damaging the forest near Burrillville to damaging our climate through polluting emissions, this plant would not help the people of New England thrive.

As Dr. Timmons Roberts, an internationally recognized authority on climate change, explained on the witness stand in front of the Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB): the Invenergy plant would make it impossible for Rhode Island to meet its short-, medium-, or long-term carbon emission reduction goals. The plant would emit almost 7 billion pounds of climate-damaging carbon a year. That’s more carbon per unit of electricity than the average power plant in New England.

Rhode Islanders are opposed to the plant as well. Thirty-two of Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns have passed resolutions opposing the plant, and folks throughout New England have attending hearings to protest it. Given it combination of unneeded power and environmental damage, it’s no surprise that New Englanders are opposed.

And now that the ISO has also walked away, what is Invenergy trying to prove?

How Many Nails in its Coffin Does Invenergy Need?

The community of Burrillville is against the plant, most of Rhode Island’s cities and towns are against the plant, scientific experts like Dr. Roberts are against the plant, and the New England grid operator has barred the plant from the system. How many more signs does Invenergy need before it packs up and goes home?

It’s time for Invenergy to stop wasting our time and resources on this unnecessary, unwanted power plant. As a company, Invenergy has a renewables branch – it should focus on those renewable energy projects and be part of building our sustainable future instead.

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