By William Opalka
A proposed Rhode Island power plant has lost its planned cooling water source, and its developers are asking state siting officials for another month to secure a new one.
Invenergy said the Pascoag Utility District, which had signed a letter of intent to provide water to the $700 million, 1,000-MW Clear River Energy Center dual-fuel power plant, withdrew from the agreement last month.
The company had proposed reopening a PUD well that was closed in 2001 because of contamination from a nearby underground storage tank. The municipal utility backed out, citing its determination that a proposed water treatment system is inadequate to protect its aquifer. A backup plan to use water from the nearby Harrisville Fire District also was turned down.
As a result, Invenergy asked the Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board on Sept. 9 for a 30-day extension that would push the plant’s hearing schedule into mid-November.
“Our proposal had been that we would put that water through our own treatment system to clean up that well,” John Niland, Invenergy’s development director, told the ISO-NE Consumer Liaison Group meeting on Thursday. “So we’re currently looking to find an alternative to that source, and we’re hoping to provide folks with more clarity on what our supply will be in the near future.”
The Town of Burrillville, where the plant is located, last week asked the board to dismiss Invenergy’s application and close the case.
“Invenergy’s application currently contains no information at all about a proposed water source. The application therefore cannot be evaluated in a meaningful way without this information,” the town wrote.
The power plant’s daily water needs would vary from about 100,000 gallons under normal conditions to nearly 1 million gallons, according to its permit application.
Several state agencies weighed in on the plant with advisory opinions filed with the siting board Sept. 12.
The Public Utilities Commission said the plant would support the region’s reliability needs and also hold down capacity prices. Only Commissioner Herbert F. DeSimone Jr. signed the opinion, because the other two commissioners had to recuse themselves.
Chairperson Margaret E. Curran also heads the EFSB, and Commissioner Marion Gold, who was appointed in the summer, previously served as commissioner of the state Office of Energy Resources.
The state energy office said the plant would help meet Rhode Island’s reliability, energy efficiency and cost goals and would not prevent the state from meeting the carbon reduction goals of the Resilient Rhode Island Act.
The Department of Environmental Management said Invenergy failed to provide enough information about the impacts on fish and wildlife and raised questions about noise and air quality. The lack of information about a water source and other unfinished environmental reviews means the agency is not yet able to render an opinion, the DEM said.
The plant would require clearing more than 121 acres of forestland in northwestern Rhode Island. The site is adjacent to an Algonquin Gas Transmission pipeline and compressor station and a National Grid right of way needed to connect it to the ISO-NE grid.
Invenergy says the plant will reduce emissions by replacing older, less efficient units. It will also add capacity to the constrained Southeast Massachusetts-Rhode Island transmission zone. One 500-MW unit is scheduled to be in service in June 2019 and the second a year later. The first unit was successfully bid into the ISO-NE Forward Capacity Auction for the 2019/20 commitment period.