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Connecticut OKs wind power rules ends moratorium

HARTFORD — Connecticut lawmakers broke an impasse over energy policy on Tuesday, approving wind power regulations that end a moratorium on new turbines producing clean energy.

The legislature’s Regulation Review Committee approved rules that require setbacks, address concerns over noise and shadows created by spinning turbine blades, stipulate how siting officials may measure the height of wind turbines and provide other technical details. For example, a wind power developer must submit a visual impact report that analyzes how each of the proposed wind turbines sites is visible along with any alternative locations.

A 2011 law called for the state Siting Council to adopt regulations governing wind power.

But the Regulation Review Committee had rejected several proposed rules since late last year. Legislators discussed concerns that regulations for a waiver for noise are ambiguous, whether money should be placed in escrow to handle abandoned equipment and the distinction between wind turbines on land and offshore.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, attending a meeting about energy issues on Monday, told reporters he looked forward to approval of the rules.

“This has been tied up for over two years,” he said. “It’s time to get regulations promulgated and allow projects that are appropriately sited to move forward.”

Sen. Bob Duff, the Senate chairman of the Energy and Technology Committee and a member of the Regulation Review Committee, called the new rules a “sensible policy” that encourages competition and lower costs.

“The effective moratorium on wind development prevented that technology from competing freely, but I expect we will soon see new projects move forward,” he said.

Connecticut is generally not seen as a top-tier source of wind power.

The state has no mountains to produce wind corridors and no access to the Atlantic Ocean, which powers stiff winds. As a result, wind power is not expected to become a major source of energy in the state, but developers see potential to serve many consumers.

It’s also important for the Malloy administration, which has emphasized renewable energy as part of a strategy that also calls for a huge expansion of natural gas pipelines.

The lack of rules has stalled proposals, including a plan to build four to eight wind turbines in eastern Connecticut.

Fair Wind for Connecticut, a Litchfield County group that has sought regulations, said the new rules are not perfect. For example, it criticized a setback distance of 1.5 times the height of an industrial wind turbine from property lines that it says would allow turbines too close to homes.

Still, Fair Wind praised the rules for providing new protections for residents and homeowners.

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