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900 MW Gas-Fired Power Plant Set for Rhode Island

As another footnote to the changing electric generation fuel mix in New England, plans for a new 900 MW natural gas-fired power plant in Rhode Island were unveiled, with Gov. Gina Raimondo touting the project's boost for the state's economy and environment.

Global power plant developer/operator Invenergy said the $700 million Clear River Energy Center would generate overall economic impact in the state of $1.3 billion during the period of 2016-2034.

The announcement comes in the wake of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant being closed at the end of last year (see Daily GPI, Aug. 28, 2013), and with the Marcellus shale gas bonanza making gas-fired generation more of a viable option for New England states. Invenergy last year proposed a 1,300 MW gas-fired generation plant in northeast Pennsylvania and Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. LLC this summer announced plans to expand its infrastructure to serve plants expected to develop in the region (see Daily GPI, June 19).

Invenergy officials and the governor promised affordable electricity and increased reliability for Rhode Island from the proposed new plant, "using the world's most advanced power generation technology." With state and local permitting approvals, the Clear River project could begin construction in the fourth quarter of 2016, with a targeted commercial start in the summer of 2019, company officials said.

The new plant would be owned and operated by Invenergy, which has developed more than 9,000 MW of independent power generation, including utility scale wind, solar and gas-fired plants and energy storage facilities in the United States, Canada and Europe. About 3,100 MW of the projects are gas-fired.

Invenergy said the Clear River plant will propose connecting to the New England Independent System Operator (NE-ISO). Permitting applications are being prepared for submittal to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the state's Energy Facility Siting Board and the town of Burrillville, where the plant would be located.

Rhode Island electricity consumers pay the fifth highest retail rates in the nation, and New England's regional grid faces the retirement of about 6,000 MW in aging power plants. "By displacing older, inefficient plants, Clear River is projected to save ratepayers $280 million cumulatively between 2019 and 2022," an Invenergy spokesperson said.

In addition, the project would allow NE-ISO to meet the capacity shortage forecasted for the Rhode Island zone of the regional grid, the power plant company said. "We are tackling our regional energy challenges, committing to cleaner energy systems in the long-term and putting Rhode Islanders back to work," said Gov. Raimondo.

Michael Sabitoni, the head of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council, said the project would create more than 300 jobs for local workers, and once operating, would employ 25 permanent skilled employees with a total annual payroll of $3.5 million.

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