May 6, 2011

Connecticut Siting Council holds another hearing on proposed wind turbines in Colebrook

By JASON SIEDZIK, Register Citizen staff, 5 May 2011

NEW BRITAIN – As the Connecticut Siting Council holds another evidentiary hearing on the proposed wind turbines in Colebrook, Prospect could once again be a precedent-setter.

An informal straw poll taken at a council meeting earlier in the week showed nearly the entire board in favor of rejecting BNE Energy’s plan to build two industrial turbines in Prospect. The turbines would be similar to the six proposed turbines in Colebrook. Size and siting concerns have been raised regarding the Prospect plan, which is similar to the Colebrook opposition.

A rejection by the Connecticut Siting Council would be exceedingly rare. Cornwall First Selectman Gordon Ridgeway said after the council approved a cell phone tower in town that approximately 95 percent of applications which have gone before the Connecticut Siting Council are approved. Paul Corey, BNE Energy’s chairman, emphasized that applicants have to do their homework before applying, though.

The hearing will focus on Colebrook North, the project on Rock Hall Road. According to Stella and Michael Somers, the owners of the Rock Hall Inn Bed and Breakfast, the turbines will be close enough to spoil views from the Rock Hall Inn. BNE Energy has countered this claim with a video simulation of the turbines from the viewpoint of Rock Hall Inn. The video was submitted to the Connecticut Siting Council as evidence Wednesday.

To a degree, the opposition to the turbines in Colebrook has been personal. Recently filed evidence in the proceedings illustrates this, as one of the parties filed a motion to have their medical records sealed under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

The evidentiary hearing should be the final round, according to the Connecticut Siting Council’s schedule. Draft findings of fact are scheduled to be released for review May 19, and the record will be closed June 2. A decision on the Prospect turbines, meanwhile, is due May 16.

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