Connecticut Considers Wind Power Moratorium

Published March 14, 2011

Connecticut legislators, responding to citizen concerns about environmental impacts, are considering legislation to place a moratorium on all commercial wind development until specific regulations are adopted.

BNE Energy Possibly Affected
West Hartford wind developer BNE Energy has proposed three project sites in the towns of Prospect and Colebrook. BNE seeks to place two 1.6 megawatt turbines in Prospect and six 1.6 megawatt turbines in Colebrook.

“It will truly make Colebrook a green entity overnight once the projects are built,” said Paul Corey, chairman of BNE Energy.

BNE Energy is waiting on government approval for the wind projects. A moratorium would put the projects on indefinite hold.

“All of the types of studies that the proposed bill would require in terms of regulations, we’ve already done them and we’ve made those filings with Connecticut Siting council, and currently it’s under review,” Corey said.

Wind Power Receiving Scrutiny
Rep. Vickie Nardello (D-Prospect), who co-chairs the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee, and Sen. Joan Hartley (D-Waterbury) coauthored the bill that would require the Connecticut Siting Council to adopt specific regulations concerning wind development.

The Connecticut Siting Council has jurisdiction over all public power facilities, including the development of wind projects. This allows the Council to weigh each proposal on a case-by-case basis.

Corey said BNE Energy does not oppose reasonable regulation, but he said those reasonable regulations are already in place.

“If they were to impose regulations on wind, it would be the only technology that has specific regulations. So we don’t think it’s good for renewable energy; we don’t think it’s good for wind, in particular, in Connecticut,” he said.

Proposed Restrictions
The specific regulations being proposed include considerations of tower height and distance from neighboring properties; the strobing and flickering of light through turbine blades; a requirement for the developer to decommission the facility at the end of its useful life; different requirements for projects of different sizes; limiting ice throw and blade shears; impact on natural resources; and a requirement for a public hearing for wind turbine projects.

“Any regulations are possible,” said Linda Roberts, executive director of the Connecticut Siting Council. “As to their effect on Connecticut’s renewable energy goals, it is evident the development of wind energy would be postponed until such time as they are drafted and passed. It goes without saying Council review of the sites in Prospect and Colebrook would also be delayed.”

“We are the first wind project before the Siting Council, and their decision in our proceedings is going to set precedent for future cases,” said Corey.

Connecticut’s Renewable Portfolio standard mandates 20 percent of the state’s electricity come from Class 1 renewables, such as wind and solar, by 2020.

Alyssa Carducci ([email protected]) writes from Tampa, Florida.