The Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB), in a Sept. 15 order, designated certain agencies, including the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission, to render an advisory opinion on the Burrillville Interconnection Project and associated structures.
As noted in the EFSB’s preliminary decision and order, the Narragansett Electric Company d/b/a National Grid and Clear River Energy LLC (Invenergy) (collectively referred to as the applicants) on Feb. 22 filed with the EFSB a joint application to build and alter major energy facilities.
The applicants propose to connect Invenergy’s proposed Clear River Energy Center (CREC) to the electric transmission system by building a new 6.8-mile, 345-kV transmission line (3052 Line), the preliminary decision noted. The applicants also propose to alter two existing 345-kV transmission lines, the preliminary decision said.
The new line would be built in Burrillville between the CREC and the Sherman Road switching station, the preliminary decision said, adding that the first 0.8 miles of the 3052 Line would be built within a new 250-foot-wide right of way (ROW) controlled by Invenergy and located between the CREC and the existing Narragansett right of way (ROW) (Segment 1).
The remaining six miles of the project would be located within the existing Narragansett ROW that runs in a northeasterly direction to the Sherman Road switching station, the preliminary decision said. The 1.6-mile portion of the Narragansett ROW, from the intersection of the Invenergy ROW to about 0.19 miles south of the Clear River (Segment 2) is 300 feet wide. The preliminary decision also noted that the remaining 4.4-mile piece of the Narragansett ROW is 500 feet wide (Segment 3); Segments 2 and 3 are occupied by the existing 345-kV transmission lines, the 341 Line and the 347 Line.
In addition to building the new 3052 Line, the applicants propose to rebuild and realign the existing 341 Line and 347 Line in Segment 2 to make room for the new 3052 Line, the preliminary decision noted, adding that the 341 Line would be shifted north to new structures and wires installed parallel to the existing 341 Line. The 347 Line would be shifted north to the existing structures and wires of the 341 Line, the preliminary decision said, noting that the existing 347 Line structures and wires would be removed and replaced with new structures and wires for the 3052 Line.
The preliminary decision further noted that the project would also include realigning about 260 feet of the 328 Line, an existing 345-kV transmission line at the Sherman Road switching station.
As noted in the preliminary decision, while the Energy Facility Siting Act makes the EFSB the final licensing authority, an applicant for an EFSB license must still apply to all state and local governmental bodies for permits and licenses that would, absent the Siting Act, be required. Instead of issuing a permit or license, however, the state or local governmental body must act at the direction of the EFSB and issue an advisory opinion to the EFSB regarding such permit or license.
The preliminary decision added that advisory opinions directed by the preliminary order must be submitted to the EFSB within six months of the order, that is, by March 15, 2018. The final hearing for the instant application, which will continue over as many days as necessary, has not yet been scheduled, but must begin by April 30, 2018, the preliminary decision noted.
The final hearing must be concluded not more than 60 days after its initiation, and the EFSB must issue its final decision within 60 days after conclusion of the final hearing.
The preliminary decision added that issues to be considered at the final hearing are:
- Are the proposed transmission facilities necessary to meet the needs of the state and/or region in connecting Invenergy’s proposed generation facility to National Grid’s electric transmission system?
- Are the proposed transmission facilities cost-justified and can they be expected to transmit energy at the lowest reasonable cost to the consumer; capable of remaining consistent with the objective of ensuring that their construction and operation will comply with all applicable laws, rules, regulations, and ordinances under which, absent the Act, a permit, license, variance, or assent would be required; or does consideration of public health, safety, welfare, security, and the need for the proposed transmission facilities justify a waiver of some requirement where compliance therewith cannot otherwise be assured?
- Will the proposed construction, alteration, and/or operation of the proposed transmission facilities cause unacceptable harm to the environment?
- Will the proposed transmission project enhance the socio-economic fabric of the state?
- Is the construction, alteration, and/or operation of the transmission project consistent with the State Guide Plan?
The agencies that are directed to render advisory opinions are the Burrillville Zoning Board of Review, Burrillville Building Inspector, Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, Rhode Island Department of Transportation, and Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.
Among other things, the preliminary decision added that the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission is to render an advisory opinion as to the need for the proposed transmission project and whether it is cost justified.