Burrillville power plant blocked by RI regulators

Business News

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — After more than two years of widespread debate, state regulators on Thursday rejected a $1 billion proposal to build a gas-fired power plant in Burrillville.

The three-member Energy Facility Siting Board, which oversees all major energy developments across the state, unanimously voted against the proposal by Invenergy to build what would have become the largest power plant in Rhode Island.

The board determined Invenergy failed to prove the plant was needed.

The decision comes as a major blow to the Illinois-based company, which has invested more than two years of time and resources on a project once publicly supported by Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo.

“The EFSB has conducted a thorough and independent process. Today’s outcome reflects years of public input and deliberation, and the governor respects the board’s decision,” said Josh Block, Raimondo’s press secretary, in a statement.

Beth Conley, an Invenergy spokesperson, said in a statement the company is reviewing its options.

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

Invenergy has the option to appeal the decision to the R.I. Supreme Court.

The power plant – largely opposed by local residents and elected officials – has pitted environmentalists and energy advocates against each other. The latter have argued the high price of electricity has made it difficult to do business in Rhode Island.

Environmentalists, meanwhile, have successfully argued power generated by the plant is not needed, and would hurt the state’s goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

“This is a huge victory for Rhode Island and for the health of our communities,” said Conservation Law Foundation Senior Attorney Jerry Elmer in a statement. “Today’s decision is proof that communities can stand up to big gas and win.”

The board will next prepare and issue a written order, which will take at least a month to prepare, according to a spokesman.

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Follow him on Twitter

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