The Johnston Town Council approved a resolution to provide water to a proposed Burrillville power plant operated by Invenergy Services LLC last week. Documents submitted by the company to the Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) provide insights into the amount of water the plant requires to operate. The proposed plan is currently under review by the EFSB.
The Clear River Energy Project is a nearly $700 million, 1,000-megawatt natural gas and oil-powered plant proposed for Wallum Lake Road in Burrillville. The controversial proposal, which has drawn environmental concerns from residents across the state, overcame a major hurdle when the council approved a more than $18 million, 20-year water supply and economic development agreement on January 10.
Under the agreement, water the town purchases from the Providence Water Supply Board will be trucked from a facility in Johnston, which has yet to be purchased or built, to the plant in Burrillville. The power plant is still several years away from completion.
The 86-page report was provided to the Sun Rise by Duffy & Shanley, Inc., Invenergy’s local media relations firm. The report describes the plant as a dual fuel combined cycle facility that will utilize dry cooling to conserve water use. Daily demand for water will vary depending on the plant’s workload, ambient air temperature and the type of fuel being used.
The plant will use natural gas as its primary source of fuel; however, during the winter the natural gas supplies in New England may be constrained because natural gas is also used as a heat source. When natural gas is not available, ultra-low-sulfur distallate (ULSD), diesel fuel with a lowered sulfur content, will be used. During that time, the plants water usage will increase.
Under full load normal conditions utilizing natural gas, the report estimates the plant’s water usage demands are approximately 15,840 gallons per day. During full load summer conditions, approximately three months out of the year, water usage will increase to 18,720 gallons per day.
Based on those figures, the company estimates that two truckloads of water per day would be needed under normal conditions, and 2.3 truckloads of water per day would be necessary for summer conditions.
The report states that during “infrequent” periods when the facility is required to change the turbines from gas to oil, because the grid operator determines the severity of winter conditions require conserving natural gas for heating needs, daily water demand will rise to 724,320 gallons per day. When this is necessary, the demand will be met with reserves of water stored in tanks on site.
The on-site water tanks will be replenished over time after being used, with the rate of refill determined by the number of trucks used to make deliveries. In the report, Invenergy provides an example of a three-day oil firing, which would require an additional 9.1 truckloads of water per day over a one-month period to refill reserves. That number is lowered to 4.5 additional truckloads per day if the refill process is stretched out over a two-month timespan.
Wastewater will be trucked to publicly owned treatment works or other privately owned facilities in the area licensed to treat industrial wastewater.
The council’s approval of the resolution has come under scrutiny. Council chambers, which can hold 87 occupants, were at capacity more than an hour before the session began. Residents and non-residents were then left to wait in the nearby hallway and outside the building. Some have questioned the legality of the meeting, which was called on short notice.
According to Amy Kempe, the public information officer at the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office, her office has received “in excess of 10 open meeting complaints” which are currently being reviewed.
“It is uncommon for our office to receive this many complaints over one particular meeting for a public body,” she said.