The Connecticut Siting Council Thursday rejected a wind-farm developer’s proposal to construct two, 492-foot industrial turbines in Prospect, citing the density of the homes in the area and the turbines’ height.
The plan by BNE Energy Inc., of West Hartford, was the first large-scale commercial wind energy project to come before the council.
The council voted 6-2 to deny the plan. A ninth council member recused himself.
“Based on the record in this proceeding we find the visual effects associated with the construction of the proposed 3.2 megawatt wind farm to be in conflict with the policies of the state and are therefore sufficient reason to deny the proposal,” council members wrote.
The council’s chairman, Robert Stein, voted to approve the project, as did Ken Braffman, who sat in as a representative of Kevin DelGobbo, chairman of the Public Utilities Control Authority.
BNE’s chairman, Paul Corey, and president, Gregory Zupkus, declined to say Thursday whether they would appeal.
“BNE is extremely disappointed that the siting council would reject the first commercial wind project in the state, going against state policy for renewable energy because some people might see the wind turbines. We think that’s simply wrong,” Corey said.
While opponents of the project welcomed Thursday’s decision as a victory, they said the state needs regulations governing the creation of wind farm siting guidelines.
Rep. Vickie Nardello, D-Prospect, and Rep. John Rigby, R-Colebrook, sponsors of a proposed bill requiring the state to develop wind farm regulations, joined Save Prospect Corp. and FairWindCT, a Colebrook citizens group, at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford Thursday to applaud the decision and show support for the bill, which is expected to be voted on by lawmakers next week.
“The siting council’s decision confirms the belief that wind projects need to be developed carefully – if not we could serve as the poster child against wind projects,” said Nardello, co-chair of the energy and technology committee. Nardello said she expects the measure to pass based on conversations with fellow lawmakers.
Tim Reilly, president of Save Prospect, said his group was ecstatic over the council’s decision, but he said wind farm guidelines are still needed and would ensure a smoother, less contentious process. “Several of the siting council members made it clear today that had there been regulations their job would have been easier,” Reilly said.
Colin Tait, the council’s vice chairman, recused himself from voting, after a request by BNE. On Wednesday, Tait had recused himself from participating in deliberation on a separate proposal to put an industrial wind farm in Colebrook, saying he is a member of the Colebrook Land Conservancy.
A decision on BNE’s proposal to construct six industrial wind turbines in Colebrook is pending. The siting council is scheduled to vote on the proposal in early June, and plans to take a straw poll at its next meeting on May 24.
“We’ll have to see what the results for Colebrook are – certainly if it follows the result in Prospect it will kill the wind industry entirely in Connecticut,” Corey said.
If the council rejects the proposal, “It will not only spell the end of wind farms, but all renewable energy projects in Connecticut,” Zupkus added.
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