Less than a month after state regulators rejected a proposal to build a power plant in Burrillville two other permits for the project are still under review.
One is a state permit from the Department of the Environmental Management concerning impacts of the natural gas powered plant on air quality. The other is a federal permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, which could include an environmental impact survey.
In June the state’s main regulators for projects like power plants, the Energy Facility Siting Board, voted 3-0 to reject the proposed billion-dollar plant, proposed for a swath of land in the rural northwestern corner of the state.
The board’s basis for the ruling however was largely disconnected from environmental impacts. Instead the board found there was not sufficient need for the additional energy in Rhode Island and the region that such a plant would provide.
After the decision, residents in the area who spent the last four years fighting the proposal celebrated. But the EFSB’s decision must still issue a finalized order. That is not expected until at least after the beginning of August.
After that order, Invenergy, the Chicago-based energy company trying to build the plant will still be able to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.
“We want to make sure if anything like that happens we have our input into both of these regulatory bodies, to hopefully persuade them not to approve the project,” said Mike Wood, Burrillville town manager.
Wood has spent the better part of four years pushing back against Invenergy’s project, which was proposed as major revenue generator and way of driving down regional energy costs.
But Wood and others say that’s not worth any environmental damage such a project could cause. Now he’s working to make sure residents have the opportunity to weigh in on these two other permits.
“We’re going to be participating in everything until the project is shut down,” said Wood. “So until Invenergy comes back and says ‘it’s over with,’ we’re going to stay vigilant, we’re going to be participating, we’re going to put our input in and make sure we don’t get shut out of the process.”
Both the Army Corps of Engineers and the RI DEM are aware of the Energy Facility Siting Board decision, and are awaiting the final order. The DEM application is “completely disconnected” from the EFSB decision said spokesman Mike Healey.
“Generally speaking, other required federal, state and local approvals may be considered during the Corps review process, as appropriate,” the Army Corps of Engineers offered in a statement.
Invenergy could withdraw its application at any point, stopping the permit process, according to both agencies. Invenergy declined to comment on the status of the two permits.