November 13, 20190

The Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) recently issued its Final Order denying Invenergy a permit to pave over a forest in Burrillville to build an unnecessary fossil fuel power plant.

If you are not familiar with this case, Invenergy is a privately held, global developer for sustainable energy projects; and the EFSB is an independent state board that reviews proposed large energy facilities including power plants, electric transmission lines, intrastate natural gas pipelines, and natural gas storage tanks.

To obtain EFSB approval for a new site, a proposed facility must demonstrate that it would provide a reliable energy supply, with a minimum impact on the environment, at the lowest possible cost.

One of the key factors, in this case, was Invenergy’s multiple false starts and failed efforts to get a suitable water supply.  As the EFSB recognized, these false starts were ultimately important in the outcome of the case.

Desautel Browning Law represented a key stakeholder group that was specifically recognized by the EFSB as being responsible for the Pascoag Utility District denying water to Invenergy, which set off this train of events. 

This was a complicated case, as there was a lot of evidence the EFSB members had to digest, and the EFSB wanted to write a thorough and thoughtful decision.

The evidence that the town of Burrillville and the Conservation Law Foundation introduced during the EFSB hearings on the issue of project need was heard and acted on by the EFSB as follows:

  • Invenergy argued that the plant was needed because many existing plants on the ISO system were at risk for retirement, but CLF’s witness Bob Fagan rebutted that, and the EFSB believed Fagan;
  • Invenergy argued that the capacity from its plant was needed, but Fagan rebutted that and showed that there was a huge surplus capacity without Invenergy;
  • Fagan said that Invenergy was not needed because of the growth of renewables, and the EFSB believed that;
  • Invenergy claimed that its fast-start and fast-ramping capabilities would help backstop variable-output renewables, but Burrillville’s witness Glenn Walker refuted that, and the EFSB believed Walker.
  • Invenergy claimed that its plant is needed because Rhode Island was an import-constrained zone, but both Fagan and Walker showed that, while Rhode Island is an import-constrained zone, this does not show a need for Invenergy.

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