Energy and Technology Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT ESTABLISHING A MORATORIUM ON THE SITING OF WIND PROJECTS UNTIL THE ADOPTION OF REGULATIONS.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Energy and Technology Committee
REASONS FOR BILL:
With the prospective siting of two wind farms on the edges of residential neighborhoods, it has become necessary to review the process of how and where wind farms are sited in Connecticut. The process will encourage the creation and adoption of certain regulations to protect the health and safety of residents in the community.
Substitute Language: The title has been changed to An Act Requiring the Adoption of Regulations for the Siting of Wind Projects. Additional changes to subsection (b) require the Siting Council to develop regulations before acting on any applications. Once regulations have been adopted, any projects that submitted applications prior to development of regulations have the opportunity to comply with new regulations before their application can be rejected.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
US Senator Richard Blumenthal
Regulations are not new and are necessary in order to minimize the impacts on public health and the environment. Senator Blumenthal is committed to making the best use of federal tax incentives, grants and other financial assistance to keep the industry competitive and active. There are several other states and countries that have established specific setback distances from residential properties and public roads with the public in mind.
Prospect Town Council
Testimony includes a signed letter to the Energy and Technology Committee requesting a moratorium on wind projects in the region. A petition to BNE from the Planning and Zoning Commission requests expert testimony on noise levels of commercial wind turbines and safety issues associated with wind projects.
Derrylyn Gorski, First Selectman, Town of Bethany
It is necessary to adopt regulations that take public health and safety into consideration. In Wisconsin, the legislature is increasing setbacks of wind turbines from 1000 ft to 1250 ft and is considering an additional setback of 1800 ft. Ontario Superior Court is hearing a case that states the existing setback distance was an arbitrary determination and “that it was established without a scientific or medical foundation.” Many states and countries with years of experience with wind turbines are “re-examining their regulations, [which] strongly indicates the need for regulations in Connecticut.”
Barbara Bell, Connecticut Siting Council
A process already exists for the Siting Council to follow when establishing locations for all potential projects that come before them. They can be found at RCSA section 16-50j-l et seq and the Siting Council is required to follow the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act. At the request of residents, the Siting Council has held and scheduled multiple public hearings in each location where a wind turbine is planned to be constructed.
John Olsen, Vice Chairman, Connecticut Clean Energy Fund
As originally written, a moratorium on wind projects will end all future wind projects in Connecticut, stifle job creation and the current projects will lose all funding. Any additional regulations for wind sets a “bad precedent for renewable energy in the state…” Instead, Connecticut needs to be fostering and encouraging the development of more renewable energy projects.
The two proposed wind projects have been in development for two years, received necessary support from local leaders and were given funding from the CT Clean Energy Fund to conduct the necessary studies on the environment, wildlife and other appropriate areas. Fulfilling those guidelines, the projects are now under the scrutiny of the Siting Council where additional, extensive, reviews will be conducted.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Michael S. Klein, Environmental Planning Services
Existing guidelines and regulations do not take environmental impacts into consideration when establishing a site for wind turbines. The Siting Council does not have the necessary skilled or trained staff to carry out appropriate data collection and will need such staff or “the ability to retain third-party reviewers with specialized skills.” The Connecticut land-use enabling statutes provide a model for passing the costs of staff and data collection to the project sponsor.
Joyce Hemingson, President, FairWindCT, Inc.
Prospect and Colebrook residents were not informed of the proposed wind farms until there was a town meeting regarding a separate project. Wind power is increasingly popular across the world just as issues surrounding safety and health are emerging. Because of this, it is necessary for more research to be done to implement the appropriate regulations regarding setbacks, equipment failures, flicker and health concerns.
Chuck Moran, Legislative Chair, Connecticut Lodging Association
Inappropriately siting wind turbines could disrupt the tourism industry, which depends on its location to draw customers. The repercussions surrounding undesirable siting include reduced occupancy, which can lead to foreclosure and unemployment; none of which is good for a struggling economy.
Bart Russell, Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST)
Health, property values and quality of life are of concern when considering the use and placement of wind turbines. Towns have not had adequate time to determine whether or not the use of Planning and Zoning and/or land use ordinances are appropriate. Due to the quickly evolving renewable energy industry, towns have been forced to adapt, use and construct technology that may not make sense for the town or its residents.
Helen Higgins, Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation
It is important to maintain the integrity, “scale and density of surrounding historic resources,” while not interfering “with significant historic viewsheds…The moratorium and related consultation would make the Federal Section 106 review process work more smoothly and effectively in Connecticut.”
Annette Smith, Vermonters for a Clean Environment
Two years of research of Vermont's wind development have shown that regulations are severely needed and cannot be determined on a case-by-case basis. The top two problems found were that wind development divides communities and creates conflict in addition to the unique noise profile that creates health problems.
Jeffrey Tinley, Save Prospect Corp
The standard setback distance used by most developers is arbitrary and has not been studied even though manufacturers like GE have determined that it is necessary to place wind turbines a safe distance from “any occupied structure, road or public use area.” Because Wind Prospect is near homes, businesses and Rt. 69, it is imperative that there is “further careful study and regulation” implemented to protect public health and safety.
Nicholas Harding, representing FairWindCT
Developers who have to comply with state and local regulations benefit, otherwise development is only “driven by the incentive to keep costs at the lowest possible level regardless of the consequences…Renewable energy projects should not be allowed to become the 21st century version of the 20th century abusive real estate or equipment leasing tax shelter.” Wind projects should be sited on a basis that is “subject to review such that the interests of local towns, residents, and the natural resources are all protected.”
Timothy Reilly, Save Prospect Corp
The current wind project is being rushed and the community has not been allowed to be involved or have a say in the process. Quality of life, public health and property values will be negatively impacted should Wind Prospect come to fruition. Many people relocate to Prospect because of the quiet, rural and quaint lifestyle prevalent in the community. Construction of a wind farm will disrupt the very thread that ties the community together.
Eric Bibler, Save Our Seashore, Weston, CT
Incentives for wind energy distort the economic advantages and distort the problems that accompany them, such as the significant risk of collapse. Without such subsidies, however, these projects would not be possible. Unfortunately, most operators do not have a “true appreciation for the financial risks, and/or no experience or…understanding of the technology, which is relatively new and untested.” Without regulations there is a great capacity for “waste, abuse and even tragedy.”
Richard Sargeant, Prospect
Setback distances need to be regulated to minimize the noise experienced from the spinning blades. Setback distances in other states follow: Montville, ME – 1 mile; Allegany, NY – 2500 ft from boundaries of residences; Ridgeville, WI - .5 mi from residents property lines and 2640 ft from homes; West Providences, PA – 2500 ft; Woodville, WI – 1000 ft or 3 times the total height (up to top of blade) from roads and power lines, whichever is greater and 2640 ft from residences.
William Riiska, Norfolk
Towns and their Zoning and Planning departments have the ability to adopt zoning regulations, but they must be in accordance with a plan that takes conservation and development into consideration. Such regulations need to be created in a way that is appropriate to the needs of the community and ensures that land is used in an efficient manner. Wind turbines will impact local communities and drive tourism away. While alternative energy is necessary, the state needs to take more of a role in what technology is being used and where it is being implemented.
Richard Roznoy, Esq.
Represents a homeowner living within 600 ft of the site of Wind Colebrook. The initial support for the wind project was due to the assumption that wind turbines would be located offshore and on ridgelines, not in proximity to residences. Massachusetts and New Jersey are considering regulations and setbacks at least 1.5 times the height of the turbine from the nearest property line, “setbacks at least equal to the height of the turbine to any structure or road, [and] no turbine within three times its height to the nearest existing residential structure.” The creation of rules and regulations will benefit residents and developers.
Stella and Michael Somers, Colebrook
Stella and Michael are owners of Rock Hall Bed and Breakfast, which appears on the National Register of Historic places. The location was chosen based on the rural location and its history. Time, money, and resources were utilized in an exhaustive process to qualify as a historic place. If a wind turbine is allowed to be constructed within proximity of a historic structure, it would “negate the protection that inclusion on the Nation Register is supposed to provide.” Wind energy projects near residences and historic sites will threaten the livelihood and means of support for local residents and employees in addition to threatening the surrounding properties, safety and public health.
Susan Wagner, Colebrook
The local Planning and Zoning board will penalize local residents for “any tiny infringement of the clear regulations they have created,” yet three industrial wind turbines were approved for placement “adjacent to my property without any town permission [or] any discussion…” The studies of the negative effects of sound and “infrasound” are particularly disconcerting. There is a need for scientific studies into the harmful effects of the sonic and subsonic rays.
Calvin Goodwin, Prospect
Personal research into wind projects lead to findings from GE stating that, “…megawatt-scale wind turbines cannot be located in densely populated areas,” thus the Prospect is not an appropriate location. Appropriate regulations are needed to prevent developers from ignoring a manufacturers suggested setback distance.
Karen Dunn, Prospect
Industrial-sized wind turbines do not belong in residential areas.
Darcy Anderson-Abbott, New Hartford
“Residences, businesses, wildlife, landscapes and resources in any community need to be the focus of regulations.” Without necessary regulations and review, it could have devastating economic impacts on the community in an already difficult time.
John Lamontagne, Prospect
Lives within 800 ft of the property line of the proposed site for Wind Prospect. The turbines slated for development are “too big, too large, too loud, too close to be sited on New Haven Road.” BNE is seeking fast-track approval in addition to fighting public hearings and have “filed objections to requests for important information to be present at [said] hearings.” The statutes allowing for the siting of the wind turbine in Prospect go against the existing zoning laws that prevent anything taller than 35 feet from being constructed.
Helen Plante, Prospect
The construction of Wind Prospect will negatively impact her father's quality of life, personal safety and the devaluation of his property as his residence is 1500 feet from the proposed site. Siting wind turbines near a dense neighborhood is not an appropriate location.
Joseph Lukeski, Prospect
Property values will drop with the development of the wind farm. As a result, it will be difficult for homeowners to move without losing money, thus forcing them to remain in their homes. Developers are not considering the safety or the quality of life of residents. It is imperative that developers be responsible when siting their proposed projects.
Katie Lanouette, Prospect
The endless noise and flicker of wind turbines will negatively impact her quality of life as she is living with an inoperable brain tumor. She has to live a very restricted lifestyle because the weather and other surroundings can negatively impact her quality of life. Selling her house will not be an option if property values fall as a result of the wind turbines.
Tom Satkunas, Prospect
His property line is within 400 ft of the proposed site and a residential neighborhood is not the right location for loud, giant structures.
Kristin Mow, Colebrook
With small children living in close proximity to wind turbines, it is important that health impacts are taken seriously and taken into consideration. Symptoms like sleep deprivation, stress, nausea, disorientation and headaches, among other issues, have been experienced by people living near wind turbines.
Manuel Cords, Colebrook Land Conservancy, Inc.
The moratorium should last for 1-year to determine a “rule making process either in the Legislature or by the Siting Council with legislative oversight.” Investigations into effects on property values, noise, local control, environmental impacts to wildlife should be taken into consideration.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Jessie Stratton, Environment Northeast
Adopting the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative's Best Practices is a better alternative. The Best Practices Approach will provide the Siting Council a “framework for appropriate review while also providing developers the kind of early guidance and relative certainty of what the rules will be…” The National Wind Coordinating Collaborative has already examined “the technical considerations of wind siting and a wide array of issues and impacts including land use, wildlife, water, public health, noise, vistas and cultural and paleontological resources.” A moratorium is not a feasible way to encourage wind or other renewable energy projects in the state: it has the potential to undermine or change the state's RPS and sends a negative message to developers about Connecticut's renewable energy goals.
Martin Aikens, I.B.E.W. Local 103 Union
Wind energy, along with other renewable energy sources, is “creating skilled jobs for union members.” With the advent of solar and wind, I.B.E.W. implemented the technology and trained its workers in those fields to be at the forefront of the industry. Wind technology is very successful in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and will be successful in CT. It will produce a clean energy and green jobs. With this moratorium and without this technology, CT will fall to the behind in the development and advancement of the industry.
Christopher Phelps, Environment CT
Unforeseen consequences of a moratorium can kill existing wind energy projects and can deter potential developers from “pursuing additional wind energy projects in CT now or in the future.” The existing process the Siting Council follows can and should lead to the establishment of practical standards governing the siting of wind turbines.
Paul J. Corey, BNE Energy, Inc.
Wind energy projects foster economic development, create green and manufacturing jobs in CT, and help the state meet the mandated goals of 27% renewable energy by 2020. The two wind projects will provide 25% of annual energy use to Prospect and more than 400% to Colebrook in addition to becoming the largest taxpayers in each town.
In the development process, BNE conducted every study in this bill prior to submitting a petition to the Council and needed to get approval from local officials in both towns before looking at possible sites. The moratorium is “in direct contradiction to the Energy Independence Act…, state-mandated RPS standards and goals,… and UAPA – state law requiring the Council to render a decision on the pending petitions within 280 days.”
Francis Pullaro, RENEW
A moratorium will be very detrimental to the renewable energy industry in CT, especially with the goal of using 27% renewable energy by 2020. Legislation was supported in Massachusetts that would create a “process to fast track the permitting of community scale on-shore wind projects…” because it included reasonable environmental and siting standards.
James Van Dyke, Environmental Sustainability
Owns and operates the first mega-watt wind turbine at a ski resort in the Berkshire's in MA. The project took 3 years from concept to generation and has been operating for another 3 years without complaint. Not only does the presence of the wind turbine offset the cost of energy, it has also drawn more visitors to the resort (15%-23%). The gain from this has been an economic boon for the region with the increase in tourism. The Siting Council already has the regulatory authority necessary to make the necessary decision regarding turbine siting, with access to additional reviews should they be necessary.
Charles Rothenberger, CT Fund for the Environment
Many, if not all, issues of concern are already subject to review by the Council and the implementation of guidelines and review by the Legislature should not impede the development of existing wind projects. Instead of the current open-ended process (which will stall Class I renewable wind energy projects), a deadline should be established when the Siting Council must adopt regulations. The New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning and the MA Department of Energy Resources “have issued guidance documents for local regulation of wind facilities and both offer similar guidance in dealing with flicker…”
Lori Pelletier, CT AFL-CIO
There are concerns about the economic impacts and impacts on jobs in the state. Green energy manufacturing has become a bright spot in the diminishing manufacturing industry in CT. Connecticut is leading the nation when it comes to fuel cell technology and fuel cell workforce. The state needs to continue leading in this industry by incorporating all forms of green technology. Stalling energy projects in CT will hinder economic recovery and stifle the development of the renewable energy development.
David Swirsky, DBA/New Age Energy Group, LLC
Current process has manufacturers instructing developers to determine the appropriate setback of a wind turbine based on the sited location. Tower height should be regulated by the FAA, especially since the size of a project is based on wind availability. Flicker is only “detrimental if the turbine is near a highway or major interchange of excessive use.” Right now there is a 100 Kw tower near I-95 in New Haven with no issue. In an attempt to avoid bird kills, “most lines should be built to go underground versus have additional overhead lines.”
Chris Kearns, Alteris Renewables
It is necessary to clarify the difference between “on-site, distributive generation, community scale and wind farms.” Federal incentives are available this year for wind energy projects and financial assistance will be lost, stopping the development of future projects, if a moratorium is passed.
Matthew Kearns, Firstwind
Wind power is an economic opportunity that can bring good-paying, skilled jobs to Connecticut. An analysis from the University of Southern Maine concluded that each megawatt of wind power created in Maine since 2006 created two jobs and contributed $200,000 to the state's economy. This industry can also help lower Connecticut's high electricity rates.
Joe Fleherty, Constituent
The bill will stifle economic development and investment in a prosperous industry. This will send the wrong message to potential developers and send them to other states. The projects in development will, not only, bring necessary tax revenue, they will help preserve open spaces.
James Zupkus, Engineer, Unisys Corporation
Similar opposition has emerged when installing Doppler Weather Radar. Such opposition merely delays important reviews and will end job creation in the industry, prevent needed tax revenue and limit economic development in the region. There are no reports showing a decrease in property values in conjunction with wind turbines. It is also irresponsible for local towns and the state to prevent the Siting Council from doing its job.
Ray Wills, Oakville
The imposition of additional regulations and a moratorium flies against Connecticut's support for renewable energy development. Wind development helps create jobs, stimulates the economy and is an additional tax base that will help local towns.
Victor Visockis, Newington
As part owner of the land sited for the wind farm in Prospect, it is exciting that the land could be used for the development of clean energy and to preserve as much open space as possible. The alternative use for the land is a housing development, the cost of which will “easily outstrip any tax revenue.” From the beginning of the project, all concerns have been addressed in the intensive process that is required just to begin the Siting Council review.
Northwest Connecticut is an ideal location for wind energy as there are “abundant wind resources and open space to support clean wind energy.” Connecticut is the only state in New England not taking advantage of the resource. Wind is a “renewable investment in our state and towns, creates jobs and [supports] economic development and strengthens our local tax base.”
Michael Libertine, South Windham
Imposing a moratorium could “have a devastating effect on the wind industry in CT. Such action will pose additional barriers for renewable energy, while creating a negative effect on jobs, our economy and the environment…The Siting Council…has the expertise and resources to review energy facilities in an unbiased, unemotional fashion to promote the best interests of the entire state, not just one neighborhood or community.”
Curtis Jones, P.E. LEED AP
The Siting Council has reliably and consistently fulfilled its responsibilities. There is absolutely no evidence that they have been lacking in doing so. As such, additional oversight of the Siting Council is not needed and “will only serve to further restrict economic recovery.” Connecticut is already limited in where to get renewable energy as “there are no significant additional sources of hydroelectric power and the sunlight is much less than our sister states in the sunbelt.”
The following constituents contributed similar testimony:
Jeffrey George, Prospect
Kathleen Wiener, Prospect
April Slauson, Naugatuck
William and Patricia Rinckel, Prospect
Robert and Margaret Luddy, Prospect
Debra Hankey, Prospect
Kenneth Dupont, Naugatuck
Michael Dreher, Prospect
Robert Dorr, Waterbury
Derek Brown, Prospect
Paul Villillo, Prospect
Glenn Weston-Murphy, Guilford
BNE has followed necessary process since 2006 with Planning and Zoning up until submitting its petition with the Siting Council. The project had been met with positive feedback from local and state officials until the introduction of this bill. A moratorium will not help our state move away from our dependence on outside energy sources nor will it help lower our high electricity costs.
The project will help the state accomplish its mandated goal that 20% of electricity must come from Class I renewables by 2020. It is important as parents, a community and a state to follow through with what we are teaching our children about conservation and the environment. Putting an end to wind projects, even temporarily, will make those lessons obsolete.
A moratorium on clean energy sends the wrong message to communities throughout the state in a time when we need to take our energy usage, energy needs and our future into consideration. Wind Prospect is an important opportunity for the town to become green, especially since it will cover 25% of the towns energy use in addition to becoming the largest tax contributor in the town.
Reported by: Katie Breslin
Date: 28 February 2011