NEW BRITAIN – 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. However, the council was able to take some action, granting a Colebrook resident intervenor party status in the proceedings.
“I’d take a straw poll,” said Connecticut Siting Council chairman Daniel Caruso, “but I think we’re prohibited from doing that.”
The council unanimously dismissed BNE Energy’s objections to granting Robin Hirtle a voice in the approval process, opening the door for one of several avenues of opposition. Ms. Hirtle is currently suing BNE Energy over one of the proposed wind farms, which will be on two parcels of land straddling Route 44. The agenda item only specifically addresses the Flagg Hill Road parcel, one which Ms. Hirtle claims BNE Energy has been accessing through a private driveway.
Because the Colebrook applications did not arrive in time to schedule public hearings, the combined projects will need to wait until the next Connecticut Siting Council meeting, currently scheduled for Jan. 27 at the council’s headquarters in New Britain.
BNE Energy had another concurrent project in Prospect on the docket, though, and interested parties in the Colebrook project were on hand to see how the Prospect project plays out. One was Emily Gianquinto, the attorney for FairWindCT. Formed by neighbors near the Rock Hall Road parcel, FairWindCT is a nonprofit organization opposed to not only the Colebrook farm in its current iteration, but allowing any residential wind farms before proper regulations can be crafted.
Tim Reilly of the Save Prospect Corporation has similar goals. Mr. Reilly approached his local state legislators about drafting a law that would impose a moratorium on residential wind development until regulations are imposed. State Rep. Vicky Nardello and State Sen. Joan Hartley agreed, drawing up the bill.
“There’s no standards they have to meet,” said Mr. Reilly.
Prospect’s application came in before the Colebrook applications, meaning the council could act on it first. Mr. Caruso noted that there are restrictions in place, meaning that the review process must be completed by May 16, and acted quickly to grant the city of Prospect intervenor party status in the project, as well as Save Prospect.
According to Mr. Caruso, there is no requirement to hold public hearings in the town where a project will be completed. However, due to the nature of the project – the turbines in the Prospect proposal will generate a total of 3.2 megawatts, smaller than each of the two Colebrook parcels, which will generate 4.8 megawatts each – Mr. Caruso elected to schedule two meetings in Prospect. “I certainly believe it’s necessary to have a public hearing,” he said.
The hearings will be scheduled for Feb. 23 and 24, with the Connecticut Siting Council walking through the Prospect project location at 2 p.m. on Feb. 23. Following a brief presentation, the council will open the floor to public hearing on the 23rd. The schedule passed unanimously.
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