- The Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) on Tuesday issued a final order denying a new gas-fired power plant proposed by Invenergy, pointing to lengthy delays in the proceeding that allowed market changes and the growth of renewable energy to overtake any need for the project.
- Regulators pointed to the New England ISO's decision in September 2018 to terminate a capacity supply obligation with Invenergy for one of the plant's units, calling it "an extraordinary choice" the grid operator had never before made.
- The EFSB initially rejected the 850-1,000 MW plant in June; company officials say they are reviewing the final order and mulling next steps. The decision can be appealed to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
After days of hearings this summer, Rhode Island regulators voted to deny Invenergy a key permit and made clear they thought a new gas plant is unnecessary. But the written order issued Tuesday provides more insight into the decision, including the delays caused by the company.
"The proceedings in this docket took a long time. And Invenergy’s case was not helped by the lengthy delays," the board wrote in its final decision. "The market changes that accrued over the four forward capacity auctions conducted during the pendency of Invenergy’s application undercut the credibility of Invenergy’s original arguments on the issue of need."
During the time Invenergy's application was pending, regulators said there was a reduction in peak load due to efficiency, along with growth of renewables and storage and offshore wind procurements in the region.
"It is worth noting that the vast majority of delays were caused by the applicant," the board added, pointing to Invenergy's selection of a site without a readily accessible source of water, attempts to modify ISO New England's interconnection tariff, and its challenge of the grid operator's request to terminate a capacity supply obligation.
Invenergy's efforts to persuade regulators that the ISO's decision to end the capacity supply obligation was not indicative of declining need for the new plant were unsuccessful.
Experts "presented strong and credible evidence demonstrating that the need for this type of facility would likely decrease in the coming decade" the board said. And reports that were referenced during testimony on the plant "revealed plans forecasting a significant increase in renewables and a continued decrease in peak load."
"The Board found those reports to be reliable and credible and strong indicators of the lack of need for the Clear River Energy Center."
Invenergy has 10 days from the order to decide if it will appeal. Invenergy is “reviewing the EFSB’s written order and determining next steps," the company said in a statement.
The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), an opponent of the project, praised the written decision.
"As we said in June, this is a huge victory for Rhode Island and for the health of our communities," CLF Senior Attorney Jerry Elmer said in a statement. "After years of lies and misinformation, Invenergy’s efforts to pave over a forest to build this dirty plant have been dealt a substantial loss."