CLF’s Latest Action To Stop the Invenergy Fossil-Fuel Plant

Jerry Elmer

Today CLF filed, with the Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB), a Motion to Dismiss the application of Invenergy for a permit to build a new 900-megawatt (MW) fossil-fuel power plant in Burrillville, Rhode Island.

You can see more about Invenergy’s proposal here; and you can see the full text of CLF’s newly filed motion trying to get have Invenergy’s entire case thrown out, here.

CLF’s Motion relies in part on the provisions of the Resilient Rhode Island Act, enacted by the Rhode Island General Assembly in 2014. [See CLF’s Motion at page 2 and 6-7.] The Resilient Rhode Island Act declares that it is the public policy of Rhode Island to reduce annual statewide carbon emissions to 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, 45% by 2035, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2040.

In its Motion to close the Invenergy docket, CLF explains that Invenergy’s application to the EFSB is incomplete because the application fails to address these requirements. The law that created the EFSB and the EFSB’s own rules require that permit applications must be complete when they are filed, and that incomplete applications will be rejected. Invenergy’s failure to address the climate impacts of its proposed plant is especially troubling in light of the fact that, as I discussed here, Invenergy wants to build two separate on-site oil tanks of one million gallons each – and, after coal, oil is the dirtiest, most polluting fuel used in New England to generate electricity. In fact, as CLF explains [Motion, pages 5 and 7-8], Invenergy fails to mention how it plans to control any of its unhealthy air pollution, let alone its climate-warming carbon emissions.

CLF’s Motion to close the EFSB docket is the first time that any organization or person has sought to prevent construction of a new fossil-fuel plant using the Resilient Rhode Island Act.

Perhaps most interestingly, CLF explains to the EFSB exactly why Invenergy is trying to stampede the EFSB into a hurried decision based on an incomplete application. [Motion, pages 10-13.] Invenergy made a decision to take on a so-called “Capacity Supply Obligation” (CSO) from New England’s regional grid operator, ISO-New England, before Invenergy had any of permits required to build its proposed plant. The CSO means that, by June 1, 2019, Invenergy’s plant must be up and running and ready to supply energy to the regional grid.

If Invenergy does have its plant operational by June 1, 2019, Invenergy gets tens of millions of dollars a year from the ISO-run energy markets in so-called “capacity payments.” If Invenergy does not have its plant operational by June 1, 2019, the company stands to forfeit tens of millions of dollars of bonding it put up with the ISO.

Not all companies that build power plants in New England choose to do things in that order. But Invenergy did – and now Invenergy should be forced to live with the consequences of its own decision. As CLF says in the Motion it filed today at the EFSB [page 12]:

The short of it is this: Invenergy chose to participate in the upcoming auction [that is, get a CSO] before it had any of the permits required for its proposed plant, and, as a result, Invenergy is now trying to stampede the EFSB into processing its (Invenergy’s) application prematurely, even while that application is facially incomplete in multiple respects. But the EFSB is not required to accede to Invenergy’s improper demand.

CLF is using the law – including, for the first time ever, the new Resilient Rhode Island Act – to try to prevent the Invenergy plant from being built. But as I explained in an earlier blog, there are significant political aspects to this case, and there are multiple things that everyone (including non-lawyers) can do to help stop this new fossil-fuel plant from getting built. Please go to this link and send a message to Rhode Island leaders.

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