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Blumenthal urges tough standards for siting of wind power projects

Hartford – Attorney General Richard Blumenthal called on state officials to draft strict standards for the siting of wind power projects in Connecticut, including two that have generated local controversy in Colebrook and Prospect.

Blumenthal, who was conducting what was likely his last press conference as attorney general before he is sworn in to the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, 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.

Wind turbine developments “can be immensely and profoundly useful as a source of energy,” Blumenthal said, “but only if they’re sited properly.”

The attorney general was flanked by neighbors of the proposed wind projects in Colebrook and Prospect, which have generated opposition based on their size, noise and proximity to residential properties.

“We think it’s a poor site,” said Tim Reilly, of Save Prospect Corp., which is attempting to block construction of two 492-foot turbines that opponents worry will subject neighbors to constant noise, flicker effects from rotors interfering with natural light, and other effects they believe will lower quality of life and property values.

Blumenthal was also joined by representatives of FairWindCT, which is opposing a wind power project planned for Colebrook.

The groups plan to participate in an administrative hearing at the Connecticut Siting Council on Wednesday. Because the proposed projects are related to the state’s regulated electric market, power to approve the plans lies with the siting council, rather than local zoning or land use officials.

Blumenthal, meanwhile, was packing. As reporters waited for his news conference to begin, staff passed by, headed for elevators with file boxes labeled “family photos,” “degrees,” “children’s drawings,” and “autographed baseball.”

The ceremonial office where he holds press briefings looked “a little bit empty,” Blumenthal admitted with a chuckle. The Democrat will succeed retiring Sen. Chris Dodd this week in the Senate, taking the seat Dodd has held for three decades.

“My time in this job is somewhat limited,” Blumenthal said of the need for new standards for wind power projects. “I plan to continue this fight in my new job.”