By Editors of Power Engineering
Invenergy has withheld a regular tax payment from the town of Burrillville, Rhode Island, in protest of the use of the funds to oppose the power plant it hopes to build there.
Instead, Invenergy has put the $500,000 installment into an escrow account, the Providence Journal reported.
“We reached a good-faith tax agreement with the town,” said Michael Blazer, chief legal officer for Invenergy. “Their conduct clearly violates the foundation of good-faith underlying our agreement. Until this dispute is resolved, we are putting scheduled payments into an escrow account. That money will be waiting there, for the benefit of Burrillville residents and taxpayers, when the town decides to uphold its end of the agreement.”
Town Council President John F. Pacheco III said “it is our intention to use Invenergy’s own money to finance our fight to keep them out of Burrillville” when the tax agreement was finalized in late 2016. The Providence Journal said funds from Invenergy were used to hire utilities lawyer Michael McElroy to argue against the plant before the state Energy Facility Siting Board, as well as for consultants to assess Invenergy’s stated economic impact from the plant.
The town of Burrillville objected to Invenergy’s move in a statement.
“This is a heavy-handed attempt by Invenergy to intimidate and silence the Town of Burrillville and its opposition to the Clear River Energy Center power plant,” the statement. “Withholding funds promised to the Town, unless our attorney (and presumably) our public officials agree to support the power plant and agree to limit our pronouncements to approved Invenergy messaging is outrageous.”
Invenergy’s development of the 1-GW, $1 billion Clear River Energy Center has faced opposition from Burrillville and other nearby towns since it was proposed, and Invenergy recently pushed back the opening date to June 2021.