You were loud and clear, “Just A Dot On A Map”, and the EFSB may have heard you!

At the December 12 Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) meeting, the board took up the topic of the water withdrawal proposal for Charlestown. This was the first meeting of the EFSB since the December 5 Charlestown public meeting where more than 300 of you filled the Elementary School and told the EFSB that Invenergy shouldn’t be allowed to take Charlestown’s ground water to cool the turbines of their power plant in the forests of Burrillville.

At the December 5 Charlestown public hearing, members of the Town Council, Planning Commission, Zoning Board and many others familiar with land use law and regulation had explained to the EFSB that the application was incomplete and had no data except a location on a map and that the location in a wetland was very problematic. Members of the Narragansett Tribe also testified that the contract to take the water was not legal under Narragansett law.

The EFSB clearly heard us. At their December 12 meeting they issued an order, called a “show cause order”, compelling Invenergy to prove to the board that: 

the Supplemental Water Supply Plan with the Narragansett Indian Tribe, as submitted, contains sufficient detail for the Board to evaluate and/or whether the Supplemental Water Supply Plan should be dismissed from the pending application.

Before issuing the order, the Board made clear that they felt they didn’t have sufficient information to judge the environmental impact, or legality of the contract, they didn’t even feel confident it was in Charlestown as there was some evidence the well location might be in Westerly.

The public has seen only the redacted documents, but it was clear from the Board’s questions that they too had little more than that same dot on a map.

It is now up to Invenergy to prove that a dot on a map in a wetland is sufficient and environmentally acceptable. I don’t see how they can do that and hope that as soon as the Show Cause Hearing is held, the EFSB will require that the water withdrawal plan for Charlestown be removed from Invenergy’s application.

You can see the entire December 12 meeting at the EFSB website and Steve Ahlquist’s excellent report covers the other issues at the December 12 meeting.

Ruth Platner

Ruth is the current Chair of the Charlestown Planning Commission and has been involved in land use issues in Charlestown for over 20 years.
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