Rhode Island’s Energy Facility Siting Board decided Tuesday morning during a hearing to exclude from evidence resolutions from 35 cities and towns opposing a proposed natural gas power plant in Burrillville.
Invenergy, the power plant developer, is waiting for the board to approve its application to build the plant.
The company filed a motion with the board last week requesting the resolutions be treated as public comment, which removes them from the official record of the application and could possibly give them less weight as the board considers whether Invenergy should be allowed to build the plant.
Board Chair Meg Curran said during the hearing the resolutions - 32 from Rhode Island, two from Massachusetts and one from Connecticut - are inadmissible because they are irrelevant to whether Invenergy can establish a need for the project.
She also added the city and town councils are not qualified experts that can help establish that need and are not opposing parties in the application process.
Mike Wood, Burrillville town manager, believes the board's ruling suppresses the voices of the communities that spoke out against the project.
"This project is going to impact not only Burrillville, but Rhode Island and the region, and if cities and towns want to express their opinion, that ought to be taken into consideration," Wood said.
Invenergy declined to comment.
Only one resolution from the Burrillville Town Council will be included as evidence.
The board is expected to make a final decision on the power plant early next year.