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Wind energy regulations earn OK in Stonington

Stonington – The Planning and Zoning Commission approved a regulation Tuesday night that will allow property owners to install small wind energy systems if they meet certain requirements.

The proposal was submitted by resident Julia Roberts, who has said the town has numerous large properties that would be appropriate for the smaller systems. These systems supply power to individual homes through traditional towers with rotating blades or the newer helix-shaped systems.

Roberts sought approval for the wind systems because, she said, she is an advocate of alternative nonpolluting sources of energy, individual energy self-sufficiency and reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels.

A small wind energy system typically provides power to run electric devices in a home, and if the power it produces exceeds those needs, it can be fed back into the local power grid. Homeowners can then get credit for the power when there is not enough wind-generated power to meet their needs, and they need power from the grid.

The proposal would allow a system on a lot if the homeowner receives site plan approval from the commission and meets zoning regulations. Systems would have to be on the same lot as the building they serve and would only be allowed on lots of more than 40,000 square feet or about 1 acre in the following zones: RA-40, RR-80, RC-120, GBR-130, M-1, GC-60, TC-80, LI-130 or HI-60.

The maximum tower height would be 40 feet, and the systems could not generate more than 20 decibels of noise at the property line.

After a public hearing on the proposal, the commission made several modifications to Roberts’ proposal including limiting the number of systems to one per lot in residential zones and two per lot in commercial zones.

The regulation also requires the tower and associated equipment to use natural colors, be made of nonreflective materials and have screening and landscaping.