Connecticut lawmakers Tuesday have the opportunity to clear a major roadblock standing in the way of the state’s clean energy future by approving wind siting regulations that will set permitting standards for wind generators and remove a ban on wind energy projects that is detracting from Connecticut’s leadership on energy policy.
While Connecticut has made great strides implementing its comprehensive energy strategy in the last year, the effective three-year moratorium on wind energy development is keeping the state from being a true clean energy leader. But on Tuesday, 10 members of the Legislative Regulation Review Committee have the opportunity to change that.
The Siting Council and the Legislative Regulation Review Committee have worked tirelessly with various stakeholders to develop wind siting regulations that set forth a clear and fair 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 recirculating funds in the Connecticut economy. By building wind projects in the 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 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. Prices of new projects come 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 Tuesday. It is time for the legislature to put Connecticut back on track to lead the nation in a forward-looking energy policy with a truly comprehensive energy strategy and regulations that site wind appropriately so that residents, businesses and communities can realize the benefits that make this indigenous, renewable resource an enormous value to the state.
Members of the Regulations Review Committee can help secure Connecticut’s clean energy leadership and future Tuesday, by approving the wind regulations proposed by the Connecticut Siting Council.
Peter Rothstein is president of the New England Clean Energy Council.