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Approval of one Colebrook wind turbine may ease passage of another

NEW BRITAIN – With Colebrook South passing the Connecticut Siting Council’s muster, its other half saw favorable opinions on Thursday.

The council released its draft findings of fact on June 2, as well as taking a straw poll to judge which way the winds might blow on the state’s second residential wind generation facility. Colebrook South – which was approved by the council at the June 2 meeting – had a 6-1 favorable result from its straw poll, and the Colebrook North proposal tentatively might pass by a wider margin.

According to Connecticut Siting Council executive director Linda Roberts, the council’s straw poll on Colebrook North – the project proposed for Rock Hall Road – found the participating members almost unanimously in favor of the plan. The council voted 7-0 in favor of approving the proposal, with only Phil Ashton voting “yes, possibly.” Ashton was the only vote against the Colebrook South proposal, which calls for turbines on Flagg Hill Road.

Each half of the overall BNE Energy project will generate 4.8 megawatts of electricity, according to the company’s proposal. Combined, the two wind farms could potentially produce four times Colebrook’s energy demand. Excess energy would go to neighboring towns such as Norfolk and Winchester.

One of the reasons that Colebrook South was approved and a similar plan in Prospect was rejected was due to the higher population density in Prospect. The draft findings of fact for Colebrook North reinforce this, as a chart lists the population densities of Connecticut (723 people per square mile), Litchfield County (204) and Colebrook (48).

Otherwise, the two proposals are fairly similar. This fact is noted in the draft findings of fact, which reference the similar topographical characteristics of Colebrook North and Colebrook South. Additionally, the draft findings of fact state, Colebrook South was the original proposal to come from BNE Energy, while the owner of the property that would become Colebrook North approached BNE Energy in the spring of 2010. BNE Energy entered into a long-term lease in July 2010, noting its similar characteristics to the Colebrook South site.

The Colebrook North proposal will come up for a vote on June 11. Votes on the previous two wind projects to go before the Connecticut Siting Council were identical to their respective straw polls. Colebrook South passed by a 6-1 vote, but Prospect was rejected by a 5-2 vote.