In final hearings, BNE counsel takes wind out of experts' testimony
Credit: By JASON SIEDZIK, Register Citizen Staff, registercitizen.com 6 May 2011 ~~
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NEW BRITAIN – In more ways than one, time is running short for parties to have their say in Colebrook’s proposed wind turbines.
The evidentiary hearings held at the Connecticut Siting Council Thursday are scheduled to be the last round in the proceedings on Colebrook North, the project proposed for Rock Hall Road. While BNE Energy, the company seeking to build the turbines, started the hearing with their testimony on Colebrook North, BNE’s counsel picked apart several expert witnesses retained by FairwindCT, one of the groups opposed to the turbines.
FairwindCT had moved to combine the two Colebrook proposals, as well as the petition for a similar wind farm in Prospect, but the Connecticut Siting Council rejected the plan. Prospect’s petition is approximately one month ahead of the Colebrook projects, and will be decided no later than May 16.
Connecticut Siting Council vice-chairman Colin Tait chastised the various parties before the council Thursday not only for testifying on the Colebrook South proposal, but also for repeatedly rehashing topics that had already been addressed earlier in the process. Time was running out during the hearing, not only because of the encroaching deadline, but also because of the looming scheduled dinner break.
FairwindCT’s witnesses included Michael Bahtiarian of Noise Control Engineering and Glenn Chalder of Planimetrics, and both were questioned heavily about their input. Bahtiarian testified, in pre-filed material, that the turbines will exceed the legally-allowed noise levels as set by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. Increasing the setbacks of the turbines would help, Bahtiarian said, but not enough to be substantial.
“Setbacks are the only thing we have to reduce this,” Bahtiarian said.
Additionally, Bahtiarian said the turbines would be more “offensive” from a noise perspective than the nearby Northwestern Connecticut Sportsmen’s Association shooting range. Bahtiarian said the sounds from gunfire are intermittent and the club holds its events on weekends, during the day. The turbines, on the other hand, would produce noise consistently and at night, potentially disturbing neighbors.
“Most importantly, it interferes with sleep,” Bahtiarian said. “If the gun club were to operate at 3 a.m., it’d be equally offensive.”
However, during cross-examination by Carrie Larson, who represents BNE Energy, Bahtiarian acknowledged he did not know the exact location of the gun club’s grounds, and mistakes in distance calculations impacted some of his findings. Noise Control Engineering’s survey used a sensor placed at 117 Pinney Street – on the opposite side of the Rock Hall Road parcel – and Bahtiarian acknowledged he did not know how far the sensor was from the proposed turbines site.
Bahtiarian’s report incorrectly cited distances between some of the proposed turbines and property lines, which were off by approximately 125 feet in two separate cases. Bahtiarian corrected his research, stating that two of the three figures in question would still be at or over the limit.
“Numerically,” Bahtiarian said, “it’d change every single one.”
Chalder’s computer simulations also drew questions. One turbine is depicted from a perspective that could be construed as being sited in the middle of Rock Hall Road, as well as floating in mid-air. Chalder said the simulation estimates a tower height of 329 feet, as well as 100-meter blades. However, BNE Energy’s proposal calls for 82-meter blades, and Chalder had not performed any analysis with the shorter blades.
In the latest round of legal maneuvers, Larson moved Thursday to strike the pre-filed testimony of Chalder and Michael Carboni from just days earlier. Carboni’s additional filing was made in response to a BNE Energy testimony from March 25, but did not arrive until May 3. Carboni’s testimony, according to Larson, was made well past the pre-filing deadline of April 19, and no explanation was made as to why it took Carboni six weeks to respond.
“The record in this proceeding simply cannot be left open indefinitely,” Larson wrote in her motion. “This testimony must be stricken from the record as untimely.
Larson also moved to strike Chalder’s testimony due to its combined nature. Chalder’s additional testimony, according to Larson, was in response to testimony on the Colebrook South proposal, not Colebrook North, and is therefore irrelevant to the proceedings at hand. Both motions were rejected.
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