Updated March 27 at 6:24am

EFSB votes against motions to dismiss Invenergy proposal

State regulators on Thursday voted down two motions to dismiss Invenergy LLC’s request to build a controversial gas-fired power plant in Burrillville, and signaled a final decision isn't likely coming any time soon.

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EFSB votes against motions to dismiss Invenergy proposal

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WARWICK – State regulators on Thursday voted down two motions to dismiss Invenergy LLC’s request to build a controversial gas-fired power plant in Burrillville, and signaled a final decision isn’t likely coming any time soon.

The R.I. Energy Facility Siting Board voted unanimously against two motions to dismiss Invenergy’s proposal to build a 1,000-megawatt power plant in Burrillville. However, the board did agree with some of the questions raised in the motions, including the need for more information and what impact the company’s new water-supply plan might have.

“The board will consider what new information that they might need from the applicant and advisory agencies,” said Todd Bianco, EFSB spokesman.

The board will likely ask for new or supplemental advisory opinions from state agencies, which would push the final decision back months.

“It looks now like the earliest a decision could be rendered would be March 1, 2018,” said Jerry Elmer, staff attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation of Rhode Island.

Bianco didn’t want to speculate how long it might be before a final decision is made, but based on the amount of time granted last year for advisory opinions, October is likely the earliest the board would hear final arguments, which would precede a final ruling by at least a couple months.

And the longer, the better, Elmer says.

“CLF was disappointed that our motion to dismiss was turned down,” he said. “However, I was quite encouraged by what happened today. … The EFSB made clear that based on the new water plan that’s submitted, there’s going to have to be a new set of advisory opinions. CLF believes that the more the water proposal is scrutinized, the worse it will look, and the less likely it is that a permit is granted.”

After months of negotiating with various municipalities and water boards, Invenergy last month secured an $18.4 million water-supply contract with the town of Johnston. The deal allows Invenergy to truck much-needed water from Johnston to the proposed plant in Burrillville.

The clock is ever ticking for Invenergy, which last year agreed to start selling 485 megawatts of its power output to the regional electricity grid regulator ISO New England beginning in June 2019. The company could delay that obligation for one year, according to ISO New England, but even 2020 could come before the power plant is built, depending on how long it takes the ESFB to decide.

If permitted, Invenergy estimates the power plant could take at least two and a half years to build, according to estimates made last year.

The EFSB is scheduled to meet March 6 to make a decision on advisory opinions.

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