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Providence City Council might oppose power plant in water supply case

On Monday night, a resolution aligning the City of Providence against the proposed Burrillville power plant moved forward in City Council. The resolution urges the city to stand against the energy company behind the power plant. It now moves on to committee, where it will be debated before it can get to a full vote.

Providence City Councilman Seth Yurdin asked the council at a special meeting to pass a resolution that would realign the city as plaintiffs in the Rhode Island Superior Court case of the Town of Burrillville and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) v. Clear River Energy LLC (CREC) and the Town of Johnston.

The case surrounds the proposed plant’s water supply. The Town of Johnston wants to sell public water to CREC, a subsidiary of Invenergy, the company behind the Burrillville plant. The plaintiffs, including Burrillville and the CLF, are arguing that Johnston does not have a right to sell water to an outside source.

The water comes from the Scituate Reservoir, which was created by a 1915 law that also stipulated how the water could be used. Plaintiffs say that the water can’t be sold to CREC according to that century-old law.

Alicia Kelley, a member of the grassroots organization Keep Rhode Island Beautiful, is fighting to stop the Burrillville plant. She said that the project can’t move forward without a water supply set in stone, and that the power plant would also be a detriment to the local community.

“We would have huge amounts of carbon dioxide go into the air,” Kelley said. “We would not meet our requirements of the Resilience Rhode Island Act. There’s a lot of moving pieces as to why this plant is bad, but the biggest one is literally putting a power plant in the middle of the last large flats of forest in Rhode Island, and if not that, southern New England.”

The City of Providence was pulled into the case when Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein asked more towns and organizations to be defendants, according to Kelley. Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, as well as the Providence Water Supply Board, have publicly expressed their opposition to the Burrillville Power Plant. Kelley said that Councilman Yurdin wanted the city to realign its place in the case to match its officials’ stances against the power plant.

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