Wind Energy Regulations Stalled . . . Again
For the fourth time this year, a vote on wind generation regulations — which include legal framework for how the state should regulate those towering turbines — has been postponed.
After a huddle with a liaison from the governor’s office, Robert Stein, chairman of the Connecticut Siting Council, asked Tuesday to withdraw the proposed regulations for wind generation in Connecticut.
He said there simply wasn’t a consensus within the committee to approve the regulations that the council had submitted.
Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said he would like to understand why the committee was at an impasse.
“What are we trying to get at?” Duff said. “At some point we need to be able to move the ball forward on these regulations.”
Sen. Leonard Fasano, R-North Haven, said it should have been no surprise to the Siting Council that the Regulations Review Committee was going to reject its proposal since it submitted the same proposal it rejected without prejudice back in September.
He said the conditions under which the Siting Council can waive certain provisions of the regulations is a concern and is “giving a lot of people some angst.”
Consider the issue of decommissioning a wind turbine. Fasano said the Siting Council has the right to ask for a bond from the company that wants to erect the turbine. The bond would help ensure that if the company decides 20 years later that wind turbines are not the wave of the future, the taxpayers don’t have to pay to take it down.
“If these companies leave these towers where they are, you have problems,” Fasano said.
He said the taxpayer shouldn’t be on the hook if a company decides to abandon a turbine. There’s also issues about giving the council the power to waive noise, setback, and flicker regulations for projects.
Rep. Selim Noujaim, co-chairman of the committee, said they had a number of questions two months ago and it was the job of the Siting Council to get the answers. Instead, the Siting Council resubmitted the same application.
“We’re not against wind power,” Noujaim said after the meeting. “I’m a fan of doing things right.”
Chris Phelps, executive director of Environment Connecticut, said he was disappointed in the decision of the Siting Council to withdraw its proposal.
“We’re probably the only state in the country banning wind power,” Phelps said.
For Phelps, this isn’t about the regulations as much as it’s about renewable energy.
“Six or seven legislators are sending a loud message about Connecticut that it doesn’t want clean, renewable energy in its own backyard,” Phelps said. “They want no wind power at all.”
Noujaim said that’s absolutely not true. He said he just wants to make sure it’s done right.
Joyce Hemingson, president of Fairwind CT, said she was happy lawmakers were taking their time. She said the regulations as they stand now are the most lenient in all of New England.
She said the organization is not for or against wind power. It’s an organization, according to its website, that is concerned about the the social, health, and economic impact of unregulated wind turbines near busy roads and near residential neighborhoods.
“It’s not a NIMBY issue,” Hemingson stressed.
The state has had a moratorium on wind generation for almost two years as it has struggled to come up with regulations.
“I think we should have regulations,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Tuesday at an unrelated press conference.
He said he’s not being critical at the moment, but at some point if the state keeps picking off alternative sources of energy it shouldn’t be surprised when the state doesn’t meet the goal of obtaining 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.