The company proposing to build a natural gas power plant in Burrillville will begin pre-engineering work in early August, but a strong opponent of the project claims the announcement is "an obvious effort at misdirection."
Developer Invenergy will work with a contractor to sample the soil in the area where the plant’s power transmission line would be. The tests will help engineers plan out their construction of the line that would connect the plant to the regional electrical grid.
However, Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental advocacy group and opponent of the plant, said Invenergy is trying to make the project look further along than it actually is.
Jerry Elmer, senior attorney at CLF, said for the power plant to be approved by the state, Invenergy doesn't need soil samples, it needs legal permission from National Grid, a state utility company, to build the transmission line.
"It is unclear if or when it’ll ever happen, and saying that 'We’re going to begin looking at the land' is fatuous nonsense," Elmer said.
Elmer said without that agreement, Invenergy can’t connect its power plant to the grid or supply its energy.
However, Beth Conley, spokeswoman for Invenergy, said in an emailed statement the power plant "remains on track to begin operations in 2021."
"Energy projects like this one routinely conduct pre-engineering and permitting work well in advance of the start of construction," Conley said.
Rhode Island’s Energy Facility Siting Board is holding final hearings on the power plant. Their decision whether to approve the project is expected this fall.