An expert witness has been contradicted by his own email in a hearing before Rhode Island’s Energy Facilities Siting Board.
Invenergy Thermal Development LLC has proposed to build a $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil-burning power plant in northwest Rhode Island. The proposal is currently before Rhode Island’s Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB).
The proposed plant will be a nearly 1,000-megawatt natural gas and diesel facility in Burrillville, Rhode Island. Opponents of the project argue that the plant is unnecessary.
Invenergy retained Ryan Hardy to testify at the hearings before the Energy Facilities Siting Board. Hardy opined that the power-purchase agreement or capacity supply obligation (CSO) that was awarded to Invenergy was proof that the plant was needed to keep the lights on and the electric grid running smoothly in Rhode Island.
Jerry Elmer from the Conservation Law Foundation and Michael McElory, attorney for the town of Burrillville, argued that the termination of the CSO by the operator of the regional power grid meant that the proposed power plant was unnecessary.
Hardy argued that the loss of the CSO and the subsequent confirmation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was the result of Invenergy failing to meet construction and approval benchmarks. It did not have anything to do with “whether or not the plant is needed.” Hardy said, “I don’t agree that it condemns the (power plant). In the state of Rhode Island, a facility needs an EFSB permit to be built. It does not need a CSO.”
The Independent System Operator filed its request to terminate the CSO when Invenergy pushed back the targeted date of operation from 2019 to 2021 or later.
However, an email that Hardy sent to two Invenergy senior managers, John Niland, and Ken Parkhill, on October 4, 2017, seems to contradict his testimony.
In his email, Hardy wrote, “Based on our experience before the Rhode Island EFSB and NTE Killingly’s (power plant) experience before the (Connecticut) Siting Council, it appears that the applicable state permitting boards are unlikely to approve the construction of new natural gas plants without having secured a CSO through an FCA (ISO New England auction).”
When Elmer questioned Hardy about his email, Hardy explained that the email was only about potential issues and questions that Niland may encounter during an upcoming meeting. He said, “This is not my opinion. These are talking points that were for Mr. Niland to have a discussion with the ISO New England.”
Elmer said that Hardy’s response shows that he was being dishonest with Invenergy or asking Invenergy to be dishonest with ISO New England. Elmer said, “This casts Invenergy in a very, very unfavorable light…. [T]he fact that they would lie to the ISO is very revealing and damaging to Invenergy. ISO depends on getting accurate information from power-plant operators all over New England. They use that information to keep the grid running. If a plant operator gives false, dishonest information to the ISO, the ISO is unable to do its job.”