NEW BRITAIN – Evidentiary hearings on the proposed wind turbines in Colebrook will resume Tuesday afternoon, but there may be precedent in the making.
Draft findings of fact, released April 19, in similar proceedings regarding a proposed wind farm in Prospect point towards approval. The Prospect project, due to its similar size and scope to each half of the pair of Colebrook proposals, has been considered a model for how events will play out in Colebrook.
BNE Energy, the West Hartford-based company seeking to build the turbines, submitted the application for the Prospect plan first. Consequently, the proceedings in Prospect are approximately one month ahead of the progress in Colebrook’s hearings.
The Prospect proposal offers two wind turbines, each with the capacity to generate 1.6 megawatts of electricity. The turbines would produce the same amount of energy as the proposed turbines in Colebrook. However, the opposition to the plan, as well as the process itself, has grown along similar lines in Colebrook and Prospect.
Objection to the proposed turbines led Prospect’s state representatives to draft legislation addressing the concerns. The bill, HB 6249, was referred to the Appropriations Committee on April 21 and calls for regulations on setbacks, flicker, a requirement for the developer to decommission the facility at the end of its useful life, different requirements for projects of different sizes, ice throw, blade shear and impact on natural resources. The draft findings of fact on the Prospect plan touch on all of these fields.
According to the document, there are two houses within 900 feet of the northern turbine of the Prospect proposal. The odds of a 2.2 pound ice fragment striking the closest house is, at worst, once every 8,391 years. The odds of ice striking the other house, located 885 feet east of the turbine, are less than once every 10,000 years. Ice dropping from the turbine blades is not a factor, as the worst-case scenario mentioned in the draft fact findings is no more than 226 feet from the base of the turbine.
Neither of the calculations take ice mitigation methods into account, and the two houses are located near the farthest range of the least likely distance that an ice fragment could be thrown. Similar concerns have been raised in Colebrook, although BNE Energy has asserted that the turbines in both Colebrook proposals are at least 1,000 feet from any house.
The findings also state that noise levels will not rise to the point of requiring regulation. Potential flicker would be no more than one-third the level that could potentially trigger epileptic seizures, according to the findings. Impact on wildlife, over the long term, is expected to be minimal.
The land that will house Prospect’s turbines will be near a watershed area, and the Connecticut Siting Council’s draft fact findings state that the impact on groundwater will also be minimal.
The land in question is adjacent to a derelict factory – the United States Cap and Jacket property – and a contaminated groundwater plume is already migrating away from the factory’s site and away from the turbine’s land.
Parties and intervenors in the Prospect proceedings can file written comments with the Connecticut Siting Council until Thursday.
Prospect’s decision must be handed down by May 16, but the deadline for the draft finding of facts, opinion, decision and order is May 12. Similarly, a decision must be made on the two Colebrook proposals by June 11. Draft findings of fact in the Colebrook proposals should be released May 19, according to the Connecticut Siting Council’s schedule.