Library from Connecticut
The legislature's Regulation Review Committee approved rules that require setbacks, address concerns over noise and shadows created by spinning turbine blades, stipulate how siting officials may measure the height of wind turbines and provide other technical details. For example, a wind power developer must submit a visual impact report that analyzes how each of the proposed wind turbines sites is visible along with any alternative locations.
But what has changed is that the key federal incentive for wind development -- known as the production tax credit -- has expired, and that may mean even with siting regulations on the books in Connecticut, nothing may happen with large-scale wind projects. “It could be too little, too late possibly,” said Paul Michaud.
Connecticut's three-year moratorium on construction of new wind turbines could be lifted by the end of April, if legislators approve regulations on the structures.
As Connecticut moves on several fronts to diversify its supply of energy, proposals for wind power have stalled as state lawmakers struggle to reach agreement on rules for turbine locations, shadows created by spinning blades and other details.
The answer to this largely procedural question has the power to slow or stop construction of the wind farm. If wind is a fuel, then the wind farm is an electric generation facility and clearly under the jurisdiction of the Connecticut Siting Council. If not, the council never had the ability to approve the wind farms as it did.
But it hasn't been an entirely clean tenure for Esty. The department has made enemies, at various times, of heating oil dealers, clean energy advocates, and renewable power developers. In October, state utility regulators publicly questioned the benefits of a Maine wind farm Esty chose for a state contract.
Allco filed a lawsuit against Dan Esty, the DEEP commissioner, in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, claiming the contracts amount to the state setting wholesale power rates. That’s against the Federal Power Act that gives U.S. regulators the exclusive right to oversee wholesale markets, Allco said.
Allco argued in its complaint to U.S. District Court in New Haven that Esty violated the U.S. Constitution and the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) in establishing a fixed price for wholesale electricity. That right belongs exclusively to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the company said in its lawsuit.
But the situation has prompted some soul-searching as some residents worry more wind turbines will turn the woodsy state into New England's utility closet. Opponents also question wind power's environmental merits and say turbines aren't worth spoiled views or noise. Larry Dunphy, a Republican state representative, recently posited a future when "you won't be able to climb a mountain without seeing blinking red lights and spinning turbines."
Federal regulators are being asked to resolve a regional rift over who should pay for new power lines needed to carry renewable electricity to southern New England. Vermont has joined New Hampshire and Rhode Island to oppose the cost-sharing formula being promoted by Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine. ...the more populated states are trying to offload much of the cost of the new power projects on other states in New England.
Jim Finley, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said his organization asked the siting council to withdraw its proposed regulations so a compromise can be reached. He said some of CCM's member towns and cities want the regulations to force developers to post bonds to indemnify host communities and to require a plan to decommission closed facilities.
The Connecticut legislature on Tuesday again extended the moratorium against the construction of wind turbines, with no possibility of the ban being lifted before federal tax credits that expire at the end of the year.
For the fourth time in a little less than a year, a legislative committee has declined to approve regulations for wind turbines in Connecticut, leaving in place a moratorium on wind power projects that has been in effect for more than two years. It reaffirms Connecticut as the only state in the region, and possibly in the nation, that specifically does not permit wind projects.
The average 8-cent price for the two contracts was only possible because Connecticut is buying a large amount of cheaper power from Maine — probably 6-7 cents per kilowatt hour — that makes the cost of the Connecticut solar power — probably 12-15 cents per kilowatt hour — more affordable on average.
"We think that it is likely there will be significant additional transmission investment needed to maintain reliability and improve access to these clean, intermittent power sources," Lee Olivier, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in an earnings call Friday. "But it is too early to estimate how much that additional investment will be and exactly when it will occur."
The PZC voted 7-1 to deny Snow Hill Wind’s application to erect a 197-foot, 8-inch test tower just north of Interstate 84 behind the motel. Snow Hill Wind is a branch of Pioneer Green Energy and was represented at the meeting by Adam Cohen.
"The environmental effects … will primarily accrue to the citizens of sparsely populated Aroostook County, certain parts of Canada's Maritime Provinces, and the Atlantic Ocean," regulators said in their decision to approve the contracts. On the electricity from Maine: "Because of transmission limitations, it appears that the electricity generated by this project will remain exclusively or largely in Maine and not be delivered to Connecticut or elsewhere outside of Maine," regulators said.
On the electricity from Maine, regulators said, “Because of transmission limitations, it appears that the electricity generated by this project will remain exclusively or largely in Maine and not be delivered to Connecticut or elsewhere outside of Maine.”
Bill Whitlock, executive vice president of the east region for EDP Renewables North America, said that the company has leased all 58,467 acres of land required to build the Number Nine Wind Farm, named for a small pond just west of Bridgewater, Maine. He said the company has plans to acquire land rights for the 50 miles needed to connect the project to the electric grid.
Other projects in the same bid were disqualified based on lack of site control, including one that made it all the way to the final stage in the process and was recommended, like the EDP Renewable project. The two companies, which submitted bids that weren't chosen by the state, first raised the concerns about EDP Renewable's apparent lack of site control in filings with state utility regulators in the past two weeks.