If the Connecticut Siting Council has its way, soon you will have the opportunity to have a 500-foot tall industrial wind turbine, and many others beside it, a mere 550 feet from your property. And there will not be a thing you can do about it – other than to suffer from the constant noise, shadow flicker (sun rising and setting through the spinning blades) and severely reduced property values.
Current law says that installation of any industrial size wind turbine greater than 1 megawatt of energy under the purview of the sting council and not that of municipal planning and zoning commissioners. It’s apparent to this Yankee that residents don’t matter as much as developers to our state siting council.
From the fall of 2010 to spring 2011, I led a group named Save Prospect Corp., a band of angry neighbors, against a plan to put two of these 500-foot tall monsters in the middle of a residential area in Prospect. If it had been approved, it would have been the most densely populated area for an industrial wind turbine siting in the U.S. Fortunately, our evidence and strong spirit caused the siting council to deny the developer’s petition, something that has only happened in 3 percent of the applications/petitions before the siting council over the past 40 years.
Part of our effort was a call for creation of statewide regulations for industrial wind turbines. With the help of our state representative, Vickie Nardello, D-Prospect, and others we were able to get a law passed requiring regulations. As the saying goes, however, be careful what you ask for. The siting council has written proposed regulations and totally ignored the evidence gathered and presented at great expense (hundreds of thousands of dollars) to many residents of Prospect and Colebrook. (Last year, the council approved plans for two three-turbine wind farms in residential areas in Colebrook, which neighbors are appealing in court.
What the siting council chose to do in response to the new law was to create wind regulations based upon siting requirements favorable to industry. States that have accepted development of wind turbines in populated areas are spending much time and money dealing with the effects on neighbors who are suffering day to day. I have met with residents from Massachusetts, Maine and Iowa who have lost all hope, who can no longer sleep in their bedrooms, but instead camp out in their basements.
The Cape Cod Planning Commission called for a 3,000-foot setback for turbines, and much of Europe is now calling for a mile or more, yet the “resident-deaf” council members have decided, under their proposed regulations, that 1.1 times the height of a turbine is sufficient. So when it comes to industrial monsters irresponsibly placed, I’d have to say that residents don’t matter to the siting council.
Also at issue is the problem with infrasound caused by the wind turbines. This is noise that is on a scale below the ability of a human to hear, but it is felt by humans as a pressure. Once the infrasound penetrates homes, it is amplified. Think of a drum or the bass vibration from a loud radio in the car behind you while you are stopped at a light. To address this, the siting council has asked developers to include reports on the likely emission of infrasound from proposed turbines. The problem is that Connecticut’s own noise standards (last revised in 1978) don’t address infrasound, so there is no standard to measure against.
A public hearing on the proposed regulations is scheduled for Tuesday at 3 p.m at the siting council’s New Britain office. It’s a chance for residents to be heard on their constitutional right to protect their property, and to fight this outrageous assault on Connecticut citizens and their local planning and zoning commissioners.
Timothy C. Reilly lives in Prospect.
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