Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Connecticut
Windmills may be more plentiful and produce power more readily in the vast stretches of California and Texas than in Connecticut, but several towns remain undeterred in their search for cheaper energy. Some local officials, fed up with the rapidly rising cost of power, are considering zoning law changes to permit wind power turbines. It's the latest move by officials in Canaan, Goshen, Harwinton, Thomaston and Watertown to find less costly alternatives to heat schools and town office buildings. ...Zoning regulations and environmental concerns also present challenges. The aesthetics and environmental impacts of the enormous towers with huge spinning blades sometimes provokes opposition from residents even if they back renewable energy alternatives.
State and regional regulators acknowledge the hurdles - especially in northern New Hampshire - but don't have ready solutions. A bill before the New Hampshire Senate would have the state be ready to act if no regional solution is forthcoming. ISO New England, which manages power for the region, is considering changing rules so more of the costs of transmission upgrades could be shared regionally. But as things stand now, backers of projects generally must pay for upgrades needed to connect them to the system. "None of this is a real speedy process," acknowledges Michael Harrington, senior regional policy adviser for the state Public Utilities Commission.
The potential approval of a wind turbine on Kurt Karpavich's Farm Circle property again provided an impassioned debate during the Planning & Zoning public hearing on Wednesday, January 16. ...The public hearing on the matter was closed and P&Z voted to table action on Mr. Karpavich's application. Prior to the aforementioned decision, Farm Circle residents continued to plead with the members of P&Z for a resolution to the issue which will not allow Mr. Karpavich to have a wind turbine on his property. Following a sitewalk of Mr. Karpavich's property last month, members of P&Z still have yet to determine which area of Mr. Karpavich's property is best suited for the wind turbine. P&Z has tried to find a resolution to the issue which suits both parties, including surrounding neighbors, who have expressed their opposition to the wind turbine under any circumstances. The wind turbine regulations were approved last fall when details of wind turbine approval was set according to various factors including height variance and setback distance, as well as minimum acreage requirements according to the residential zone.
The Planning and Zoning Commission of Watertown wants to establish a baseline when it comes to wind turbines so it doesn't have to deal with applications on a case-by-case basis. The amendment would restrict wind turbines to one per lot, cap the noise from the generator at 55 decibels and not allow them in front yards. The turbines would also only be allowed in certain residential zones.
Central Maine Power and Maine Public Service have asked the ISO New England to review the feasibility of a transmission line that would link northern Maine with the regional grid and create a path for wind power to flow to load centers in southern New England. Tim Brown, MPS director of corporate planning and regulatory affairs, said Thursday that the line, expected to be in excess of 100 miles, would allow transmission of more than 500 MW of wind power, most of it still in planning. While the idea of connecting northern Maine to the regional grid has been discussed for years, it has taken on a new significance given the difficulty utilities and merchant generators have encountered when they've attempted to build plants in the high-demand southern New England states. In addition to growing demand, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have renewable portfolio standards, which create pressure for more large scale wind. But no major projects have been built in southern New England. In northern Maine, about 42 MW of wind is operating and an additional 500 MW has been proposed. If the line is not built, Brown said wind electricity in northern Maine could be routed into Canada then into southern New England. That, however, would require major upgrades to grid interface between MPS and New Brunswick Power. Brown said the utilities expect the ISO impact study to be completed by the end of 2007.
BRIDGEPORT - Planned developments around the city, such as the $1.2 billion redesign of the Steel Point peninsula, may include new energy efficient technologies. During a meeting Monday in City Hall Annex, officials - including Mayor John M. Fabrizi and state Sen. Bill Finch, D-Bridgeport - heard about energy efficient and environmentally friendly options and resources from several sources. Rina Bakalar, Bridgeport's director of central grants, said the city is planning to pursue the use of "green" technology.
NEW HAVEN - Wind turbines may be headed to the Elm City, with possible locations ranging from the summits of East Rock and West Rock to Long Wharf and Lighthouse Point. The idea is just starting to get off the ground, but the first turbines could be built by fall 2008, according to Emily Byrne, a policy analyst for Mayor John DeStefano Jr.
The city is starting small, with a proposal to install four or five different kinds of wind turbines to see which work best. They will be placed in one of three locations currently under consideration, all near water. If the Board of Aldermen supports the idea, the wind turbines would be fully funded by the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (to which all of the state's electricity ratepayers contribute through their utility bills).
Although the approach is too late for projects that have already begun a federal review process, a dozen New England congressmen and senators have asked for help from the Department of Energy in coordinating a regional approach to siting liquefied natural gas facilities. Reps. Tom Allen and Mike Michaud have both signed on to this request, which makes sense for future energy projects.
Yet, despite the operation of New Jersey’s small wind project since January, there is uncertainty about whether wind farms, particularly gigantic turbines positioned off the region’s coastline, will be embraced here. On Long Island, a 40-turbine project being considered off the South Shore is facing stiff resistance from opponents who argue that the turbines will damage pristine ocean views, fail to deliver cost-effective electricity and create environmental problems. In New Jersey, powerful local politicians have lined up behind wind power, where up to 80 turbines — rising 380 feet or more above the water along the South Jersey coastline — have been proposed to take advantage of the near-constant breezes.
Politicians aren’t just shooting the breeze about harnessing offshore winds to generate electricity. A recent report by the city’s Clean Energy Task Force discussed the possibility of a wind farm, or several windmills that could provide an alternative source of power, Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. said. At the same time, House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford, at a recent “Energize Connecticut” public forum he helped organize in Ansonia, said wind and solar power, fuel cells and other renewable resources must increasingly play a part in meeting the state’s energy needs.
STERLING -- More than six months of testing have convinced Exeter Energy to take the next step in its plan to put electricity-producing windmills in Sterling. Ken Wycherley, chief executive officer of Exeter Energy, said the company will erect a tower 160 feet high this week to measure wind speeds and directions on land it is leasing from the town in the industrial park.
``The problem we're having with all these wind farms is . . . they're proposing to put them in all the worst places," said Thomas W. French , assistant director of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. ``If they could do what the Russell Biomass plant did, which is to find a preexisting, historical industrial district, we'd be applauding them." As part of the ongoing state permitting process for the plant, French's division worked with its developers to reroute proposed power lines to reduce their impact on wildlife.