Charlestown requests pursuant to Rhode Island Law, funding from Invenergy to perform studies of the local environmental effects of the proposed water withdrawal. Since gaining Intervener status, Charlestown has retained experts on several relevant subject areas to analyze the Water Supply Plan Supplement filed by Invenergy. Charlestown has had to internalize the costs and expenses for these experts and legal fees due to the actions of the applicant.
The Rhode Island House convened the Special Legislative Commission to study the Energy Facilities Siting Act for the first time Tuesday. The purpose of the commission is to “make a comprehensive review of the Energy Facility Siting Act and provide recommendations for improving and updating the act. Let’s hope it gets better!
Charlestown Asks For Extension To Review Invenergy Documents Because Invenergy Has Been So Slow To Supply Them
Charlestown has filed a motion with the EFSB asking for an extension of the final EFSB hearing until January 28 because Invenergy has not yet released information requested by the Town, making it impossible for the Town’s experts to evaluate Invenergy’s water withdrawal plan.
This does not affect the December 5 public hearing date at the Charletown Elementary School.
When: Monday, November 27 at 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Where: Hearing Room A of the Public Utilities Commission office building, 89 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick, Rhode Island
What: Since mid October the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), Burrillville, and the Narragansett Tribal Council have all filed legal motions dealing with the Invenergy power plant proposal. The Narragansett Tribal Council’s motion is to intervene as Charlestown did into the water withdrawal issue. The CLF and Burrillville have motions for discovery or to dismiss. The session is open to the public, but no public comment will be heard.
When: Tuesday, November 21 at 7 p.m.
Where: Cross Mills Library (map in post)
What: Invenergy plans to withdraw groundwater from Charlestown and carry it by tanker trucks to Burrillville where it will cool the turbines of the proposed gas and oil fueled power plant. You can learn all about the project that will use this water at this informational meeting.
Who: This event is sponsored by the Rhode Island Association of Conservation Commissions and the Burrillville Land Trust. Burrillville Land Trust President, Paul A. Roselli will lead the presentation and discussion.
If you have a Facebook account visit our Facebook event on the December 5 hearing to sign up as “Going” or “Interested” and Facebook will send you a reminder as the date of the hearing gets near. Please also consider inviting your Rhode Island Facebook friends to this Facebook event.
In late September, the tribe contracted with Invenergy to supply water from tribal wells that are sourced from the southern portion of the Lower Wood Aquifer, located in the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed. The watershed comprises all or parts of Charlestown, Richmond, Hopkinton,Westerly, Exeter, West Greenwich, and South Kingstown in Rhode Island, and North Stonington, Stonington, Voluntown, and Sterling in Connecticut.
Thanks to residents of Burrillville who shared these two videos of tanker trucks carrying water to an existing power plant in northern Rhode Island.
Members of the Hopkinton Town Council voted unanimously Monday to send a letter of support to Charlestown, congratulating the town on having received intervenor status in its effort to halt the sale of water by the Narragansett Tribe to a proposed power plant.
Council President Frank Landolfi said he was troubled by the possible effects of such a sale on the entire area. “There’s too many consequences, I think, of that happening,” he said. “I think we need to band with the others as we did with the railroad. Unfortunately, the Narragansett Tribe was with us on the railroad. This wasn’t a very transparent process.”
When: Tuesday, December 5 at 6 p.m. (doors open at 5 p.m.)
Where: Charlestown Elementary School, 363 Carolina Back Road (Rt. 112), Charlestown (map in post)
What: Hearing to allow public comment from Charlestown citizens and others on Invenergy Thermal Development’s proposal to withdraw groundwater from Charlestown and transport it by tanker trucks to Burrillville to cool the turbines of the natural gas and diesel power plant they are seeking to build in the forest in that town.
Invenergy now proposes to connect Charlestown and Burrillville with a caravan of tanker trucks carrying water from the Indian Cedar Swamp in Charlestown to cool the turbines of the power plant in Burrillville.
Steve Ahlquist Blog – “Is the Energy Facilities Siting Board, a quasi-judicial permitting authority for all licenses required for siting, construction or alteration of a major energy facility in Rhode Island, the right place to be deciding upon issues of Narragansett Indian Tribe governance?”
Hearings in Charlestown and Burrillville on Water Withdrawal for Power Plant set for December 5 and 6
- When: Tuesday, December 5, from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
- Where: Charlestown Elementary School Gym, 363 Carolina Back Road (Rt. 112), Charlestown
- When: Wednesday, December 6, from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
- Where: Burrillville High School Auditorium, 425 East Avenue, Harrisville, Rhode Island
The original agenda for the August 17 Watuppa Water Board meeting had no notice about the deal with Benn Water. The revised agenda merely added the words, “Contingent Water Supply” with no additional details. At the meeting, as can be seen in the video, details are kept to a minimum and the discussion is somewhat circumspect. There is no mention of Invenergy, or a power plant, only of Benn Water. The Town of Burrillville is mentioned once (at the 1m35s mark), mistakenly referred to as a possible “primary source of water.”
“…we herein request an additional public hearing in Burrillville, Rhode Island,” writes Invenergy lawyer Richard Beretta, “to be held prior to the commencement of the Final Hearings, on December 4, 2017… As a result of modifications to its application since the initial public hearing, Invenergy requests the opportunity to present for public comment the contents of its application… inclusive of the Water Supply Plan filed on January 11, 2017 and the supplement filed on September 28, 2017.”
“While Tribal Council members have not received a copy of the purported agreement between Invenergy and the Tribe, generally speaking formal contracts that may be implied or expressly created in this type of agreement require a tribal resolution, signed by the Chief or First Councilman. Such a resolution requires a special tribal meeting and a vote by the body. No tribal meeting or vote has occurred regarding a proposed agreement to sell tribal water to Invenergy.”
Having decided, despite the arguments of Invenergy lawyers, that Charlestown is an “affected community” as defined under the Energy Facilities Siting Act, the town was allowed intervenor status as it pertains to the water supply only.
Energy Facility Siting Board Rules Charlestown is an Affected Community and Will Have a Public Hearing
On Tuesday, October 17, Charlestown Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero successfully presented the Town’s motion for intervener status before the Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB). The EFSB has determined Charlestown is an affected community and the EFSB must now hold a public hearing in Charlestown. Under the state law that controls the process the EFSB uses […]
Westerly Sun: “The heavily redacted documents make it impossible to identify where the water will be withdrawn from the Narragansett parcels and what routes will be affected by tanker truck traffic, Platner said in her testimony. The maximum withdrawal quantity is also missing from the documents, making it impossible to gauge the impact on the town and the aquifer, she said.”
Once we get more reliable data, we’ll be able to assess impacts such as safety, noise, air quality, cumulative damage to roads, and energy used. Invenergy will pay for the water, but all these other costs associated with health, safety, and diminished quality of life will be borne by the communities the trucks pass through. And it all depends on how much water is trucked on any given day.
Invenergy recently announced the tribe as the back-up water supplier to cool its proposed plant. However, tribal members claim the water deal was made illegally without a vote from the tribal body, which violates the their constitution. Darlene Monroe, tribal elder and march organizer, said the next step is to file a court order that would put a stop to the water agreement.
“this isn’t a Charlestown issue or a tribal issue alone. This is a regional issue and towns from Westerly to Narragansett need to be aware of it and let the state’s Energy Facility Siting Board know they want to be involved. And if it involves Westerly it involves Pawcatuck, since the aquifer supplies Pawcatuck’s water through Westerly.”
“Charlestown’s interest, therefore, is the potential of a material, adverse impact on Charlestown’s water supply as a consequence of the operation of the proposed Power Plant. To this extent, the Town of Charlestown is an “affected community” … “As such, a public hearing must be conducted in Charlestown, with notice at least 30 days prior, and prior to the final hearing on the Application.”
In his motion to intervene, Charlestown Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero notes that the water deal between the Narragansett Indian Tribe (NIT) and Invenergy concerns a “water supply for the area comprising Charlestown, including the NIT, is through a variety of private, public and quasi-municipal wells using a common aquifer, known as the Lower Wood River Aquifer, located within the Pawcatuck River Basin.”
The Energy Facilities Siting Board should not allow the developers of the Invenergy power plant to use an agreement to withdraw groundwater from within the Town of Charlestown to satisfy any requirement for a backup water supply because of insufficient notice to the Town of Charlestown, insufficient information provided to the Town, and a need for the Siting Board to seek additional legal advice.
Westerly Sun: “You may now become an affected community under the Energy Facility Siting Board’s regulations and if that’s the case they may need to amend the proceeding that they’re in now and have a hearing in Charlestown, but only if we’re allowed to intervene,” Ruggiero said.
Westerly Sun: “We haven’t been notified, we’ve had no calls from the state agencies, and no calls from the tribe,” council President Virginia Lee said Friday. “We have no information so we’re going to discuss with our lawyers how to go about getting the documents we haven’t been provided and how to get the data.”
RI Future: Both Spears and Monroe also said selling tribal water, which Spears said comes from “sacred springs” on the reservation and is part of the Wood-Pawcatuck watershed, violate tribal ethics.
This document from Invenergy is so heavily redacted that it is not possible to estimate the impacts of the water withdrawal or possible tanker truck traffic.
There are no maps and no data. It does not identify where the water will be withdrawn in Charlestown except that it is from Narragansett land. The route that the tanker trucks will take is redacted.
The agreement with the Narragansett government is missing in its entirety. It is impossible to know if there is any upper limit on the quantity of water to be withdrawn.
ecoRI News: “John Brown, Narragansett Indian Tribe medicine man, gave ecoRI News a list of reasons for agreeing to work with what could be one of the biggest polluters in the state.”