Wind regulations to get hearing


The Connecticut Siting Council has received 41 requests for a hearing regarding the state’s newly proposed wind regulations.

All of the requests are from residents living in either Prospect or Colebrook, the two towns where the first commercial wind farms in Connecticut were proposed.

Siting Council Staff Attorney Melanie Bachman has said if the council receives 15 requests, it will schedule a hearing. The council next meets Thursday and Bachman said setting a hearing is on the agenda.

The regulations the council has drafted are an outgrowth of reviewing two applications from BNE Energy Inc., in West Hartford. BNE proposed installing two wind turbines in Prospect and six in Colebrook.

The council, which has sole jurisdiction over renewable energy projects that propose more than 1 megawatt of power, rejected the Prospect application in May 2011, citing visual impacts turbines would have on residential neighborhoods.

In June 2011, however, the council approved two separate projects in Colebrook, with three turbines at each site. The council did not find the same visual impacts as it had in Prospect.

Those approvals, however, are facing an appeal from a group of concerned Colebrook citizens called FairwindCT. That appeal is still pending in New Britain Superior Court.

State law requires the Siting Council to develop regulations for wind turbines. The public had until May 15 to submit requests for a hearing.

The proposed regulations are meant to address issues such as setback distances, shadow flicker, decommissioning of turbines, requirements for projects of different sizes, ice throw, blade throw, noise and impact on natural resources.

Along with those requests, the council has received written comments on proposed wind regulations from Pioneer Green Energy in Austin, Texas; Renewable Energy New England in Madison; FairwindCT; Michael and Stella Somers of Colebrook and Susan Wagner of Colebrook; Connecticut Light & Power and Yankee Gas; and the Department of the Navy.

Each entity that commented supports the initiative to adopt the regulations but also that they need revisions.

FairwindCT, the Somers and Wagner submitted the lengthiest comments — 22 pages, plus 11 exhibits that bring the total package to 91 pages. They wrote that the regulations fail to protect human health and safety, as well as wildlife and rural and historic resources.

“The draft regulations are window dressing, designed merely to satisfy the literal requirement of [state law requiring the regulations], without actually satisfying its intent,” they wrote. “These regulations should not be adopted as proposed.”

Pioneer Green Energy pointed out a few sections of the regulations it thought were either vague or unclear.

CL&P and Yankee Gas are primarily concerned with optical and radio frequency interference of its utilities. They are requesting the regulations require a study of these issues for turbine projects.

Renewable Energy made a series of recommendations, from changing the measuring requirements on shadow flicker from a radius around the turbine of one mile to a half mile; to removing a requirement for determining the number of bird and bat fatalities caused by the turbine before it is constructed; to taking noise measurements from inhabited dwellings, not property lines.

The Department of the Navy wants to make sure that any new turbine does not interfere with Department of Defense operations and urges that it be included in the planning of any proposed turbine.

Two Prospect residents, Timothy Reilly and Vin Ricci, said last month that their main concern is setback. They said the regulations call for the distance from the turbine to adjacent property lines to be just 1.1 times the height of the turbine. BNE’s proposed height was 492 feet in Prospect, meaning a turbine could be just 550 feet away from an adjacent property line.