HARTFORD – One day before the Connecticut Siting Council signed off on the second of two wind turbine proposals in Colebrook, the Connecticut House of Representatives rejected an amendment that would have put the brakes on the turbines.
Representative John Rigby offered an amendment to HB 6249, which would call for specific regulations on wind turbines, during deliberations Wednesday. His amendment would expand the moratorium that was initially pushed aside, but the amendment was rejected. Ultimately, the House of Representatives passed the Senate’s version of the bill by a 131-16 vote, with four members absent.
Rep. Rigby’s amendment would have added a sentence to the bill stating that “any wind turbine project for which an application was accepted by the siting council on or before the effective date of this section, shall suspend construction of such project until the siting council adopts such regulations and such applicant has the opportunity to satisfy the regulation requirements.”
This amendment would have halted construction on BNE Energy’s turbines in Colebrook until suitable regulations could be drafted. As passed, the bill simply stops the Connecticut Siting Council from acting on any petitions for wind turbines before regulations could be drafted. Applications that have already been approved would not be subject to the moratorium.
Specifically, the bill calls for regulations regarding “a consideration of setbacks, including considerations 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, different requirements for projects of different sizes, ice throw, blade shear, noise, and impact on natural resources.”
However, the window to build new turbines before the permit suspension begins opened a little wider. Before the Senate passed the bill unanimously by a June 7 36-0 vote, Senators Kevin Witkos and John McKinney introduced an amendment pushing the bill’s effective date to July 1, 2012. Previously, the bill would have taken effect immediately before Rep. Vickie Nardello introduced – and the House adopted – an amendment setting the effective date to July 1, 2011.
The delay pleased BNE Energy president and CEO Gregory Zupkus, who said after the bill’s initial passage by the House of Representatives that “we feel that sends the right message, that Connecticut is open for renewable energy business.” Zupkus added that “we associate with a lot of peers across the nation, and they were watching how the Connecticut Siting Council would rule on this.”
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