Library from Connecticut
A new bill before the General Assembly's Energy and Technology Committee would stall wind turbine projects until the Connecticut Siting Council adopts regulations specific to commercial wind turbines. The committee met Jan. 3 to consider the moratorium which state Rep. Vickie Nardello (D-Prospect) and state Sen. Joan Hartley (D-Prospect) introduced in response to concerns over the projects proposed by BNE Energy, Inc. of West Hartford.
A pair of bills authored by State Rep. Vickie Nardello and State Sen. Joan Hartley are scheduled to be brought before the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee for hearings Thursday, Feb. 3. One bill calls for a moratorium on the siting of wind projects until regulations are adopted, and a second bill would limit the location of generation facilities.
Citizens groups from Colebrook and Prospect told lawmakers Thursday they should approve a proposed bill that would put a moratorium on any commercial wind turbine projects until state regulations governing their placement are developed. "It's a new industry and, as it expands, health and safety issues continue to be cited."
Prospect Corp. and FairWindCT's press conference will be held before lawmakers on the state's energy and technology committee are scheduled to hear public comments on a bill that would put a moratorium on wind power development to allow for the creation of state regulations.
Ms. Somers added that she had visited a wind turbine farm in New Hampshire that was located on 1,400 acres of property (as opposed to the 80 acres on Colebrook's two sites), and found the turbines to be as disruptive as she had thought. "Even at a mile away, you could have a conversation, but it was like being a mile away from LaGuardia or JFK," she said. "It was, of course, dependent on how the wind was that day. On that particular day we could have a conversation, but it was like a steady airplane going by. It's not appropriate for a residential neighborhood."
"They're [wind turbines] industrial, they don't belong here," insists Tim Reilly, a high school teacher who helped found the Save Prospect Corporation to block the wind turbines proposed for that Waterbury suburb. "They don't belong in anybody's backyard, they don't belong in any neighborhood."
The Connecticut Siting Council on Thursday, meeting at its New Britain office, approved eight applications from Colebrook residents seeking party status, or the ability to present evidence against siting wind turbines. It was the second time the board acted on applications from BNE Energy Inc. of West Hartford.
Plans for a pair of wind turbine sites in this tiny town that would represent Connecticut's first step toward commercial wind power are set to be heard before the Connecticut Siting Council at its next meeting on Jan. 20.
Wise people (and politicians) often say perception is more important than reality. Take the case of wind energy in Connecticut. What are the perceptions and what are the realities? With the proposed wind projects in Colebrook and Prospect currently being so hotly debated, perhaps it's timely to consider a few points.
"When [residents] found out about the Rock Hall and Flag Hill applications at a town meeting in November, people were surprised," Hemingson said. "We formed the group to see what we could do to educate ourselves and the town about what is being proposed. We found out that there are no real [state] regulations when it comes to large wind turbines."
Siting Council Chairman Daniel Caruso said although the council has no legal obligation to hold public hearings, he thought it would be appropriate given the controversial nature of the issue.
The Connecticut Siting Council began taking a long, hard look at a proposed pair of wind farms in Colebrook - one day early. As it had been less than 30 days since the council received BNE Energy's petitions for two separate sets of three wind turbines, the Connecticut Siting Council acknowledged that it could do little at the present time.
More residents of Colebrook, Winchester and Norfolk are planning to file similar petitions, said Joyce Hemingson, president of FairWindCt, a Colebrook citizens group. The group is calling for a moratorium on the approval of commercial wind farm developments until regulations governing their location in residential areas are established.
Save Prospect's Tim Reilly said at the Connecticut Siting Council meeting that they have been speaking to members of FairWindCT on a regular basis, making the case that the current regulations - which regard just air and water safety - are not enough. Both Save Prospect and FairWindCT support a moratorium on residential wind turbine development until such regulations can be crafted.
Blumenthal said the state lacks clear and strict standards to guide their placement, and a growing number of citizens' groups say local residents and authorities should not be left out of the decision-making. "These projects are of massive magnitude," Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal said that the officials who now make decisions on approving construction of projects like the two wind farms are operating in an environment of "lawlessness" - not in violation of the law, but in the absence of any guidelines about what criteria to consider.
The proposals by BNE Energy Incorporated would place wind turbines on hilltops in the two towns. Despite the fact that he will be out of office on Wednesday, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal came to their aid Monday. "These turbines have been proposed without any standards, essentially in a situation of lawlessness," Blumenthal said.
BNE Energy Inc. has faced stiff opposition in its efforts to operate the first commercial wind farms in Connecticut ...But now the windmill company faces what might be a bigger problem: the possibility that it cut down 2.3 acres of trees inside a state forest.
The concerns voiced about the windmills at the meeting revolved not around the turbines themselves, but their location. As they will be placed in a largely residential area, neighboring residents were worried about the noise, turbine blades - the windmills will be approximately 100 meters tall, most likely using 41-meter blades - and flickering.
BNE Energy's plan to put the state's first wind farm in town met with some degree of opposition. One potential neighbor has taken her case to the Connecticut Siting Council, seeking the rejection of the plan. According to the petition, BNE Energy has been accessing [Robin] Hirtle's property to reach their parcel of land. There is a mutual easement in place affecting both BNE Energy and Hirtle, stating that it "shall be limited to residential use exclusively."