CANAAN – While wind whipped through the northwest corner, the company behind the first industrial wind projects in Connecticut is working to repair the damage caused by another initiative.
BNE Energy, which is building two sets of three wind turbines in Colebrook, was also looking at two potential sites in Canaan before presenting their plans to Colebrook. One of these sites was at Freund’s Farm, and the project got as far as the installation of meteorological equipment. However, in the process of installing the tower, BNE Energy inadvertently had trees cut down on state property.
“It was unfortunate, and we certainly didn’t do it intentionally,” said BNE Energy chairman Paul Corey. “We relied on a survey that was done on behalf of the state some years ago. DEEP recognized that and we were able to work through a consent agreement.”
Corey said that the company relied on an inaccurate survey in 2007 when it had trees cleared. The survey was compiled on behalf of Connecticut’s Department of Agriculture over 20 years earlier, and the company went ahead with the tree removal based on the survey. However, the firm found out about the inaccurate survey after retaining a different civil engineering firm.
“They were concerned that we may have been on state land based on the work they were doing for us,” Corey said.
After realizing they had done so, Corey continued, the company reported their findings to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection – then known as the Department of Environmental Protection – and have worked out a settlement. The consent agreement between the company and agency, which was released in mid-November, calls on BNE Energy to replant and watch the land in question. BNE Energy, under the agreement, will monitor the growth of invasive species “so the parcel grows back to the forested area that it was,” Corey said.
“We’ve been working with them ever since,” Corey continued.
The company’s proposals were denied by Canaan officials – the local boards had a say in the projects because of their smaller scale – but the plans are not completely off the table. Instead, Corey said, they are continuing to consider other options for the Freund’s Farm property. The original proposal called for “one turbine to help power the farm, produce green energy and so forth,” according to Corey.
BNE Energy presented two plans to Canaan residents and officials in Oct. 2010, not long before the company offered their proposals for Colebrook. The Canaan plans would have placed one turbine behind Lone Oaks Campground, as well as the proposed turbine at Freund’s Farm, but the plans were put on ice due to a lack of suitable regulations.
Connecticut would respond to the lack of regulations for wind turbines after the Connecticut Siting Council approved the proposed turbines in Colebrook. The Connecticut General Assembly passed a bill calling on the council to draw up regulations, and the proposed requirements were scheduled to go before the regulations review committee on Dec. 18.
“It’s important that we have good regs for the state,” said Joyce Hemingson of FairwindCT, “even though it looks like industrial wind will not be a major factor.”
Although the highest potential for wind energy in Connecticut could be found in northwestern Connecticut, Hemingson argued that the turbines would not produce enough energy to make an impact in Connecticut’s energy needs. FairwindCT formed in response to the proposed turbines, and has made effective regulation of wind turbines a priority.
“The efficiencies there are not impressive either,” said Hemingson of six existing wind turbines in Maine. “People have to realize that wind is not going to reach the level of base load generation.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding