Burrillville residents take last chance to weigh in on proposed power plant

BURRILLVILLE, R.I. (WPRI) – Emotions filled a packed Burrillville High School Auditorium Tuesday night as residents got their last chance to weigh in on the proposed Invenergy Clear River Energy Center power plant.

The Town of Burrillville opposes the plant and has argued that if constructed, it will severely impact the quality of life, not just for the town but for the entire state. Currently, 32 communities in Rhode Island have joined Burrillville in opposing the power plant.

“We know that the proposed plant will ruin valuable forest land, harm our environment, and jeopardize native wildlife,” Burrillville Town Manager Michael Wood said. “And there are pressing concerns about the danger to the state’s air and water quality.”

The Town’s experts have also shown the new $1 Billion plant, which will be constructed with ratepayers’ funds, is not needed to meet the region’s energy needs.

(Courtesy of the Town of Burrillville)

The Energy Facility Sitting Board will ultimately approve or reject the plan. Many residents say building the power plant is not worth hurting the environment.

“So much time and resources have been set aside for many decades to preserve our Rhode Island paradise,” Susan Dumas said at the meeting. “To site a power plant in the midst of all of this not what people had in mind when they set out to conserve.”

Much of the opposition testimony centered around 3 key issues:

  • Environmental hazards
    • The new power plant will pollute the air
    • The new power plant will fragment forestland
    • The new power plant will devastate wildlife habitat
  • No need for new power plant
    • ISO-NE says there is a surplus of power, even without the new power plant
    • Renewable energy is growing and providing more regions energy needs
    • The Invenergy power plant is already costing ratepayers who are expected to fund the construction
  • Invenergy is untrustworthy
    • The company has presented contradictory and misleading information

President of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council Michael Sabitoni argues the town is the best fit for the project.

“This is where the infrastructure is. The main line gas line comes through Burrillville,” he said. “The compressor station is in Burrillville.”

Town officials said the Energy Facility Siting Board will be hearing expert testimony prior to their decision, which will hopefully be made by the end of the year.