January 4, 2011

Blumenthal calls for clear standards to guide wind farms

By Janice Podsada, The Hartford Courant, www.courant.com 3 January 2011

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, joined by residents of Prospect and Colebrook, said Monday that Connecticut must develop comprehensive guidelines to regulate wind farms and wind turbines.

Under current state law, the Connecticut Siting Council has sole jurisdiction over the location of wind turbines as tall as a 40-story building.

Although wind farms are considered a critical alternative energy source, the debate over which jurisdictions should have a say as to where they’re located is heating up.

This week the siting council is scheduled to begin reviewing the first of three petitions that would allow construction of wind turbines projects in Prospect and Colebrook, which would be the first wind turbines in Connecticut. 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. “They are 200 feet higher than the Statue of Liberty. Green energy will undermine its purpose if we fail to develop sound standards to protect against damage to the environment and quality of life.”

Blumenthal’s call for the creation of wind turbine siting guidelines followed a meeting Monday with representatives of Save Prospect and Colebrook-based FairWindCT, which oppose large wind turbine developments in their towns.

BNE Energy Inc., based in West Hartford, recently submitted two petitions to the Connecticut Siting Council. The first would allow the company to build two 400-foot-plus wind turbines at 178 New Haven Road in Prospect. The second proposes as many as six, 400-foot-plus turbines in Colebrook on either side of Route 44, near the Norfolk line.

BNE Energy could not be reached Monday for comment.

“While local residents do not have the jurisdiction to make a decision, their concerns are taken into account,” said Linda Roberts, the siting council’s executive director. “The council considers environmental impacts, public safety, the proximity to houses and schools.”

Save Prospect said residents did not learn of BNE’s intention to construct the two giant towers until mid-October, and that the town’s zoning board had no say in the project.

Under BNE’s proposal, the turbines would be 850 feet from Route 69 and 11/4 miles from homes and schools, putting commuters and residents in harm’s way should the turbines malfunction, said Tim Reilly, president of Save Prospect.

“If a Prospect resident wants to put a pool or a deck in their yard, they are required to obtain a permit,” Reilly said. “However, BNE Energy does not have to obtain local approval to construct two 492-foot tall structures.”

The group, worried about noise and other environmental impacts, has also expressed concern over the threat of “ice throws.” When ice that collects on the turbine’s rotor blades breaks up, Reilly said, the spinning blades can fling large pieces of ice more than 1,000 feet.

“Currently there are no setback regulations in Connecticut for wind turbines. Other states have adopted setbacks from 3,168 feet to well over a mile,” Reilly said.

Joyce Hemingson, president of FairWindCt, said that without state regulations the group supports a moratorium on wind turbines.

Blumenthal, scheduled to be sworn in Wednesday as Connecticut’s junior U.S. senator, pledged to push for state and national wind farm standards.

“My time as attorney general is limited,” he said, “but I intend to continue this fight even in my new job.”

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2011/01/04/blumenthal-calls-for-clear-standards-to-guide-wind-farms/