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Wind turbine legislation passes another hurdle – Connecticut’s Joint Appropriations Committee

HARTFORD – Yet another committee has signed off on legislation that would impose regulations on wind turbines.

The Joint Appropriations Committee voted 40-10 to approve House Bill 6249. Six committee members did not vote – they abstained or were absent. The vote makes the Appropriations Committee the third to approve of the bill, following a favorable report from the Planning and Development committee and favorable substitute from the Energy and Technology Committee.

Representatives Roberta Willis, the Democratic representative of the 64th District, and 63rd District representative John Rigby, a Republican, both voted in favor of the bill, as did 69th District representative Arthur O’Neill and ranking member Craig Miner of the 66th District. Rigby’s district includes Colebrook, while Willis’s district stretches from Torrington to Sharon, including Salisbury.

State Senator Joan Hartley, whose district comprises Prospect, and Beth Bye, a state Senator whose district includes Burlington, also voted in favor of the bill. Sen. Jason Welch, who represents Harwinton, Bristol, Plainville and Plymouth, voted against the bill. State Rep. Bill Simanski, who represents New Hartford, Granby and part of Barkhamsted and East Granby, was absent.

The bill would impose an immediate moratorium on wind turbines in Connecticut until the Connecticut Siting Council can draft appropriate regulations that are specific to wind turbines. Currently, there are no wind-specific regulations, but the bill was prompted by proposals to build turbines in Colebrook and Prospect.

Specific areas the bill seeks to regulate include setbacks, consideration of tower height and distance from neighboring properties, flicker, a requirement for the developer to decommission the facility at the end of its useful life, project size consideration, ice throw, blade shear and impact on natural resources. These areas are addressed in the Connecticut Siting Council’s draft findings of fact regarding BNE Energy’s proposed wind farm in Prospect, released April 20.

Noise and flicker were two items also touched upon during the Connecticut Siting Council’s evidentiary hearings on the Colebrook proposals Tuesday. According to Thomas Wholley, the turbines will not cause discrete tones, as a study of sounds generated by the turbines does not show that the turbines create tones any higher in volume than other frequencies. Wholly is Director of Air Quality and Noise Services for Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.

Wholley, who was testifying during cross-examination of BNE Energy chairman Paul Corey, stated he was unaware of any studies that indicate wind turbines were related to aerodynamic modulation.

Evidentiary hearings continued in New Britain Wednesday on Colebrook North, the project planned for Rock Hall Road, and will resume May 5. Between the two hearings, though, the Connecticut Siting Council will meet to discuss the draft findings of fact on the Prospect proposal.