November 26, 2013

CT extends wind ban until at least February

HBJ File Photo
HBJ File Photo
A wind farm in New York from developer EDP Renewables, the company that Connecticut plans on buying its out-of-state wind power from.

The Connecticut legislature on Tuesday again extended the moratorium against the construction of wind turbines, with no possibility of the ban being lifted before federal tax credits that expire at the end of the year.

The ban on wind construction extends back to June 2011 when the legislature passed a law saying no new turbines could be built until the Connecticut Siting Council came up with regulations on the size, location, and manner of each turbine. The siting council has proposed those regulations five times over the last two years, and each time the legislature's Regulation Review Committee votes against them.

In the Regulation Review Committee hearing on Tuesday, the members did not vote on the latest version of the proposed regulations. Instead, the members caucused beforehand and told the siting council afterward to withdrawal its proposal, said Melanie Bachman, acting executive director of the siting council.

The committee wants the siting council to meet with Rep. Selim Noujaim (R-Waterbury) and Sen. Andres Ayala (D-Bridgeport) to discuss their concerns about the proposed regulations.

Because of this latest delay, Connecticut will not lift its ban before the federal production tax credit for wind power expires at the end of the year, changing the economics of any planned Connecticut wind project, such as the one planned for Ashford by Texas-based Pioneer Green Energy.

The earliest the siting council can get a new proposal before the committee is late February, Bachman said, and that would be an aggressive timetable.

In order to make February, the siting council board would have to approve any changes to the regulations in its monthly meeting on Dec. 12, the Connecticut Attorney General's Office would have to complete its 30-day legal review of the regulations by the end of January, and the council must submit its latest proposal to the regulation committee by Feb. 4 in order to get on the agenda for the Feb. 25 meeting.

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