State panel approves Connecticut’s first wind farm

Connecticut’s first commercial wind farm is on the books: The Connecticut Siting Council in a 6-1 vote, approved the first of two related projects in Colebrook.

“A great message was sent by new the new administration that Connecticut is open for wind renewable energy,” said Greg Zupkus, co-founder of BNE Energy of West Hartford, the developer of the projects known as Colebrook South and North. “It’s good for Colebrook and all the rest of Connecticut.”

Not in the opinion of opponents of the project, who have argued they would create noise, would harm wildlife and negatively impact tourist sites nearby. “We are devastated,” said Susan Wagner, who is with the group FairWIndCT.

Wagner said the group would wait until next week to decide whether to appeal the decision to Superior Court. June 9 is the final vote on the second Colebrook project, but also by then topponents will know the outcome of legislation that would establish regulations for wind projects, and whether those regulations will apply to Colebrook.

Wagner said, however, they are “inclined to appeal.”

Each part of the project consists of three wind turbines, each capable of generating 1.6 megawatts of power. Colebrook South, the one approved today, would have 492 foot-high turbines on an 80-acre parcel off Flagg Hill Road in Colebrook.

Colebrook North would be on the opposite side of Route 44 in Colebrook. During the discussion prior to the straw poll there was some concern about the turbine height. It’s possible those turbines could be lower – about 425 feet.

The next step for Colebrook South is submission of a development and management plan, which also must be approved by the Siting Council.

Last month the Siting Council rejected BNE’s wind farm proposal in Prospect. Connecticut has been the only northeastern state without a commercial wind facility.