When Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection finalized its comprehensive energy strategy earlier this year, they set Connecticut on a direct path to a cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable energy. The strategy stands to reduce energy costs for the state’s residents and businesses and positions Connecticut as a true clean energy leader.
The New England Clean Energy Council applauds Malloy and DEEP for their foresight in undertaking this initiative. However, while the administration has made great strides implementing its comprehensive energy strategy in numerous ways, there remains a clear bump on Connecticut’s road to clean energy leadership. This roadblock is the lack of wind siting regulations that will allow homegrown wind energy to be an appropriate part of Connecticut’s energy portfolio.
This Tuesday, 10 members of the legislature’s Regulation Review Committee have the opportunity to remove that roadblock by approving wind siting regulations that will set permitting standards for wind generators by removing a two-year ban on wind energy projects.
With misinformation about wind energy swirling around this issue, it is important for Connecticut residents, businesses, and communities to understand that wind siting regulations will not mean wind turbines will pop up in every neighborhood, city, and town. They do mean that there will be a clear process for developers to site wind projects appropriately. Reasonable regulations such as those proposed also mean that Connecticut will have the opportunity to realize the significant economic benefits of local wind energy.
Wind energy from homegrown sources creates jobs while circulating money into the Connecticut economy. By building wind projects in-state, Connecticut will join other states taking advantage of wind energy’s benefits, such as high quality jobs for its residents in construction, operations, and maintenance of wind energy projects. Additionally, as Connecticut’s wind energy sector grows, more opportunities in manufacturing and innovation will develop as well.
The economic benefits don’t stop with just jobs. Lease payments for landowners and increased tax bases produce further economic benefits. In fact, wind leases can provide the support landowners need to keep property in current agricultural use.
Thousands of communities across the country are already reaping the economic and environmental benefits of homegrown, clean and affordable wind energy. In 2012, land-based wind energy accounted for 43 percent of all new energy generation in the United States. In fact, wind is becoming one of the most cost-effective sources of new electricity generation with prices of new projects close to competitive with the cost of natural gas electricity, which is the cheapest traditional power source in the current market.
There has been a thorough and deliberative process involving all stakeholders in the creation of the wind siting regulations before the committee this week. And it is time for the legislature to put Connecticut back on track to lead the nation in forward looking energy policy with a truly “comprehensive” energy strategy that includes regulations for wind turbine siting.
Members of the Regulations Review Committee can help secure Connecticut’s clean energy leadership and future this Tuesday, by approving the wind regulations proposed by the Connecticut Siting Council.
Peter Rothstein is the president of the New England Clean Energy Council