Would you buy a car that runs 24 percent of the time? You couldn’t predict when that 24 percent of the time would occur, and the car would cost more to drive than the one you own now. Doesn’t make sense, you say? Take a closer look at industrial wind energy.
Last year, industrial wind facilities in Maine had an average efficiency of 24.3% and those in Vermont, 23.1%. Connecticut has fewer wind resources than these states and no industrial wind facilities – yet. There is a moratorium here on wind facilities until regulations drafted by the CT Siting Council pass the legislature.
Under the proposed regulations, the Siting Council could create industrial zones for wind facilities anywhere in your town, ignoring local planning and zoning, wetlands and conservation commissions. The Siting Council wants to give itself the power to waive even its own regulations concerning setbacks, noise and shadow flicker. The Siting Council also says it has no responsibility for decommissioning once a wind facility’s projected life span of 20-25 years is up – negotiations for that will fall to the host town.
Wind facilities face increasing push-back in other New England states, where noise regulations are more stringent than Connecticut’s outdated statutes from 1978. Large turbines standing 492 feet tall (as high as City Place Tower in Hartford) disrupt nearby residents with noise and infrasound, disrupting sleep and causing health problems. The value of their homes changes as well.
Electricity from wind is more expensive. According to the New England Wind Integration Study, developing 20% wind in New England would require 4,095 miles of new lines at an estimated cost of between $11 and $15 billion. The costs will fall to ratepayers. The State of Connecticut is currently considering bids to satisfy its Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). The winners could be industrial wind facilities throughout New England. Even wind companies without an existing facility are in the running because gaining a long-term PURA contract helps attract financing – and equally important – get approvals from other state agencies for proposed facilities.
Attorney General George Jepsen and Dan Esty, Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, recently announced success in pressuring the federal Department of Energy to strengthen energy-efficiency standards for certain appliances and equipment. Commissioner Esty added that “energy efficiency is at the heart of Governor Malloy’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy to bring cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy to our state.” How do industrial wind facilities fit this strategy? They are not efficient, cheaper or more reliable in our region.
Now is the time to contact your state legislators and the Regulations Review Committee before their September 24 meeting. Insist upon regulations that incorporate lessons learned in other states, such as greater setback distances, noise specific regulations, and local input. You’ll find public testimony on the draft regulations under “Pending Proceedings” at the Council’s web site, www.ct.gov/csc.
Joyce Hemingson is the president of FairWindCT, a non-profit group that supports experience-based industrial wind regulations for Connecticut. For more information go to: www.fairwindct.com.