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. A moratorium would allow time to create regulations,” Joyce Hemingson told members of the Energy and Technology Committee at the public hearing at the Legislative Office Building.
Hemingson is president of FairWindCT, a citizens group that opposes a plan by BNE Energy Inc., a West Hartford wind developer, to erect six 492-foot commercial wind turbines in Colebrook.
BNE sought approval from the Connecticut Siting Council earlier this year to construct six wind turbines in Colebrook and two in Prospect. Its application triggered an outcry among residents and officials from both towns, who claim the council has too much autonomy.
The Siting Council, a nine-member panel, has sole jurisdiction over construction of any type of electric-generating facilities, including gas-fired plants, hydroelectric plants and wind turbines.
Barbara C. Bell, a member, told lawmakers Thursday a moratorium and added regulations are not necessary – the concerns of residents and local officials, along with the impacts on public safety and the local environment play a significant role in the council’s decisions.
Supporters of the moratorium repeatedly described wind turbines as huge industrial structures that are incompatible with residential use and are likely to contribute to an increase of sleep deprivation, headaches and other maladies.
But opponents of the moratorium overwhelmingly cited the need for the state to forge ahead with the development of alternative energy sources.
“A poor economy, a country dependent on foreign oil, and a threatened environment with no plans for green energy are major burdens that I do not want to place on my children,” Prospect resident Debra Hankey wrote in a letter to lawmakers.
“Every other New England state has wind projects successfully running,” Hankey added. “We need to practice what we preach about alternative energy sources and the need for a better environment. We can teach our kids to recycle and how to conserve energy …but if we ourselves do not act on these lessons, they will fall on deaf ears.”
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