Federal regulators have essentially scrapped plans for a 485 MW combined-cycle natural gas power plant in Rhode Island after approving the New England electric grid operator’s request to terminate an agreement with its developer.
In an order issued earlier this month, FERC said the Independent System Operator (ISO) New England met the conditions for terminating the agreement with respect to the capacity supply obligation (CSO) of Invenergy LLC’s Clear River Unit 1 plant. The 485 MW facility first obtained a CSO in the ISO New England’s 10th forward capacity auction.
In its filing to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the grid operator said little progress had been made to begin construction on the plant, and as such, commercial operation for the project would likely be later than June 1, 2021, more than two years beyond the start of the capacity commitment period in which the plant obtained a CSO.
FERC’s order only pertained to the CSO termination filing submitted by the grid operator, and did not address whether the Clear River project was in fact “needed.”
The Clear River plant has been delayed by hearings and the developer’s search for an adequate water source. The Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board suspended final hearings for Invenergy's project after ISO-New England filed with FERC.
Despite the setback, Invenergy said the ruling does not impact the future of the project nor its commitment to Rhode Island.
“While delays have shifted our timeline, the permitting process continues, and we’re confident this important affordable energy source for Rhode Island will be built,” Invenergy spokeswoman Beth Conley said. “As power prices in Rhode Island rise to the highest in the country, including the cold weather price spike happening this week, the need for this project is only growing.”
Meanwhile, the developer has finalized a related facilities agreement with utility Eversource Energy for the Clear River Energy Center, which provides for several transmission upgrades to Eversource’s network in nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut to ready the system for the energy from the center. “All of the upgrades will be funded entirely by Invenergy, with zero ratepayer impact,” Conley said.