Rhode Island state regulators have hit the pause button on final hearings for a natural gas power plant proposed for Burrillville.
Attorneys for the power plant's developer, Invenergy, the Town of Burrillville and the Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental advocacy group, recently asked the Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board to put the hearings on hold for now.
They’re waiting to find out how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will rule on a request to terminate a 2016 revenue contract between ISO New England, the operator of the region’s electrical grid, and Invenergy.
ISO might not hear back from federal regulators for another two months.
"What today’s hearing and postponement means is that Invenergy is a zombie. It may not realize yet that it’s dead, but it’s dead," Jerry Elmer, senior attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation, said after the EFSB approved the stay of final hearings on Wednesday.
However, Michael Blazer, senior vice president and chief legal officer for Invenergy, said ISO's contract termination request does not spell doom for the power plant.
"Anybody who’s saying that the project is dead and we’re zombies and this reflects a determination by ISO that it’s not needed, is making it up. They’re putting words into ISO’s mouth that ISO hasn’t said," Blazer said.
Blazer said ISO's submission states a delay in the permitting process as the reason why they want to terminate their agreement.
Blazer added, given the amount of delays the project has already experienced, a couple more months is insignificant.