State regulators reject proposed Burrillville power plant

WARWICK – Rhode Island utilities regulators on Thursday turned down the controversial plan by a Chicago-based energy conglomerate to build a $1 billion power plant in rural Burrillville opposed by townspeople and environmentalists.

The state Energy Facility Siting Board voted 3-0 to deny a license for Invenergy Thermal Development LLC’s proposed Clear River Energy Center. The three-member board had scheduled three meetings, beginning Thursday, to discuss the proposal before taking a vote. But the board only needed to discuss it Thursday morning before taking a break, then reconvening for the vote.

In voting against the power plant, the board found that Invenergy “had not met its burden to prove a need for the plant,” said board spokesman Todd Bianco.

More than three years in the making, Thursday’s vote is final and effectively kills the project. The company’s only option would be to appeal to the state Supreme Court, Bianco said.

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The board will issue a written decision within the next 30 to 60 days, then the company will have 10 days to file a court appeal, Bianco said.

“We will review the written decision and evaluate our options,” said Invenergy spokeswoman Beth Conley.

The company has wanted to build a natural gas-burning plant to sell the electricity generated by it into the New England’s power grid system. Opponents have argued the electricity produced by the plant is not needed and it would needlessly disrupt the environment.

“Today’s decision is a huge victory for the people of Burrillville, the state of Rhode Island and a world that is facing a climate change emergency,” said Jerry Elmer, senior attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation in Providence, part of a coalition that opposed the plant.

Scott Blake is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Blake@PBN.com