HARTFORD—Gov. Dannel Malloy and his appointed head of the newly consolidated Department of Energy and Environmental Protection are on record as saying that they do not approve of a proposed moratorium on the placement of wind turbines in the state.
Two proposed wind power sites—one in Colebrook and one in the New Haven County town of Prospect—have been the sources of controversy since Hartford firm BNE Energy purchased land and filed plans to install turbines there. Local campaigns in both towns have sprung up to prevent them from being built. In Colebrook, the Rock Hall Luxe Lodging, a bed-and-breakfast that abuts one of the sites, is attempting to use its status on the National Register of Historic Places as a legal blockade to BNE building such a structure.
A pair of bills authored by State Rep. Vickie Nardello (D-Prospect) and State Sen. Joan Hartley (D-Waterbury), who both represent Prospect, and brought before the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee earlier this month, would indefinitely prevent the construction of wind turbines in the state until regulations are written regarding their placement. The proposed bills have not yet left the committee, and the deadline for the committee to render a decision on them is March 24.
Presently, there are no laws in Connecticut regarding the placement of wind power structures. The Connecticut Siting Council, which oversees the placement of all telecommunications and electrical equipment in the state, presently has jurisdiction over wind turbines.
Several environmental groups, which are in favor of wind-generated power, spoke against the moratorium in Hartford after it was proposed. State Rep. John Rigby and State Sen. Kevin Witkos, who represent Colebrook, both said in prior interviews that they had not come to a decision on supporting the moratorium yet.
Governor Malloy, who was elected in November, spoke to the issue Feb. 9 on Waterbury radio station WATR’s “Talk of the Town” show, when asked by host Larry Rifkin if he supported the moratorium.
“If we’re talking about a delay for regulation purposes that’s one thing … if we’re talking about simply trying to kill wind turbines in the state of Connecticut then we should admit that’s what we’re trying to do: We’re trying to do away with wind turbines as a way to generate electricity,” the governor responded. “But let’s not parse words here—it’s one or the other, and I don’t think really the design is to talk about regulations; I think the design is to end wind turbines. And I think that’s the context in which to have the debate, not pretending that it’s about regulations.
“And by the way, if the legislature decides that they want to kill wind turbines, then they should stand up and affirmatively vote that but not try to do it by saying, well we just need regulations. We’ve been regulated to death in this state,” he added.
Governor Malloy could not be reached for further comment. However, Daniel Esty, a professor of environmental law at Yale University and the governor’s nominee for the head of the new Department of Energy and Environmental protection (a new state entity formed as part of the governor’s efforts to consolidate the state government, said Wednesday that he and the governor were opposed to the bill.
“I would suggest we need some regulations, and that’s something that, as new commissioner, I’m committed to prioritizing and getting to work on, rather than shutting down these activities, which is a blunt instrument,” he said.
Mr. Esty added that he agreed regulations were needed as an addition to the Siting Council’s practices, and said he was reviewing the regulatory model that the state of Massachusetts—which has wind turbines—uses to regulate their placement.
“I think we need to do some renewable, energy-specific elements that would allow us to have a process which ensures wind turbines, solar energy facilities, and any sort of renewable energy has a structure or review, that’s appropriate to the issues raised by that form of power generation,” he said.
Meanwhile, the first public hearings and site tours by the Siting Council on the turbines—concerning the site in Prospect—were scheduled to begin Wednesday and Thursday.
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