Findings favor wind turbine project


NEW BRITAIN — A decision by the Connecticut Siting Council on a proposed wind turbine project in Prospect is not expected until May 12, but findings on the project presented on Monday by the council’s staff all but guarantee approval.

Members of Save Prospect Inc., a group of neighbors fighting the project, said they are prepared to continue their battle in court if the council approves the project.

Council members on Monday went over a draft of a fact-finding report regarding the application of BNE Energy Inc. of West Hartford to install two 1.6-megawatt wind turbines at a 67.5-acre parcel at 178 New Haven Road in Prospect. The same company is proposing installing six turbines in Colebrook. That petition is pending.

If the Prospect project is approved May 12, it will be the first commercial wind project to be approved in the state.

The draft findings of fact presented at the siting council meeting on Monday were based mostly on testimony presented by BNE. The findings included:

  • The project would not exceed Department of Environmental Protection Agency noise criteria.
  • The project would not pose an unacceptable risk of hurling dangerous chunks of ice onto neighboring houses. The report said a 2.2-pound piece of ice could be expected to strike a neighboring home only once in every 8,000 or more years, even without taking into account mitigation steps.
  • The “shadow flicker” effect of sun shining through the whirling blades of the wind turbines ” … would be below recommended levels” of the Epilepsy Foundation.
    Also, according to the findings, one turbine would be expected to cause the deaths of 2.3 birds a year and the “expected mortality of bats at the site is expected to be low to moderate but may be higher.”

Neighbors of the project have mobilized since November and raised some $100,000 to fight the turbines. About 20 showed up at Monday’s hearing. Several said evidence the group presented, some 2,500 facts, was left out of the report. Only six of the 212 findings in the report could be attributed to the group.

“That says a lot,” said a disappointed Jeannine Lavallee, a resident of Woodcrest Drive.

Karen Dunn, also of Woodcrest Drive, pointed to the report’s finding that the turbines would be sited in an area of “low residential density.” Save Prospect’s findings contend that the project would be located in an area with one of the highest densities — if not the highest — in the country for commercial wind power generation.

“It’s been very one-sided. It’s a done deal and the money is speaking,” Dunn said.

Dunn, Lavallee and several others said the neighbors will take the siting council to court if the project is approved.

Another meeting is scheduled for May 2, when changes requested by council members will be incorporated in the report. These could include more detailed information on what council members called an alternative location based on BNE’s willingness to relocate the northern turbine 160 feet south-southwest, away from the nearest residence.