Drivers going through Colebrook on Route 44 may notice the state’s first two commercial turbines towering over treetops a short distance from the road. The owners of those turbines are now proposing to build a second, larger wind farm in the nearby town of Goshen.
Wind energy development in Connecticut has been challenged by the state’s small size, scarcity of wind, and the lingering effects of a three-year ban the state placed on turbine construction while it figured out how to regulate them.
But BNE Energy of Colebrook is eyeing a tract of heavily forested land owned by the Torrington Water Company in Goshen as a potential site to build six more turbines. At peak, the new wind farm would produce four times as much electricity as the farm in Colebrook.
"It's a great location. In our opinion, it's one of the best, if not the best site in Connecticut," said Paul Corey, BNE's chairman. "From looking at all factors: the water company owns over 5,000 acres of land, we'd literally be on a ridgeline, there's very few houses in the area."
BNE CEO Greg Zupkus said although the property is surrounded by protected watershed land, it could still one day be sold for development. He said building turbines there could help preserve open space.
“[That] means no chemicals from lawns flowing down the hills. No oil dripping off a truck in their driveway, or a car dripping in the driveway and the rain washes it through the forest into the reservoir," Zupkus said.
Goshen First Selectman Bob Valentine said he’s keeping tabs on a suit BNE recently filed against the town of Colebrook over their tax assessment because the outcome will affect how Goshen taxes the new wind farm if it's built there.
"My hope is that that will be settled out in Colebrook by the time that this project gets built, we’ll have a good sense of the value of these," Valentine said. "The tax base part of it will be a positive aspect, but that’s not the first thing I would think about necessarily."
Valentine said he first wants to hear what residents think. There was strong pushback from some community members in Colebrook against the first wind farm’s construction -- but right now, Valentine said not too many people know about the proposal for Goshen. He said the idea of renewable energy is something the town might embrace.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is now reviewing proposals for smaller scale clean-energy resources and expects a decision later this summer. If approved by DEEP and later the state’s Siting Council, BNE said their turbines could be running in Goshen by the end of 2018.