FAIRWINDCT, INC., et al. v. CONNECTICUT SITING COUNCIL et al.,
Judicial District of New Britain
Administrative Appeals; Whether Siting Council has Jurisdiction Under § 16-50k to Issue Declaratory Rulings Approving Siting of Wind Turbine Projects; Whether Siting Council can Attach Conditions to Declaratory Rulings; Whether Siting Council Properly Measured Noise Levels. The plaintiffs are Colebrook property owners and a non-profit corporation formed to educate the public about industrial wind generation projects in Connecticut. They brought these actions to challenge the Connecticut Siting Council’s declaratory rulings approving the siting of BNE Energy, Inc.’s wind turbine projects in Colebrook. The declaratory rulings issued pursuant to General Statutes § 16-50k (a). While that subsection generally requires an applicant to obtain a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need before starting a project, it provides that the siting council shall approve by declaratory ruling, rather than by certificate, certain “grid-side distributed resources [projects or facilities]. . . .” The siting council approved the projects subject to certain conditions, including BNE’s submission of development and managements plans addressing environmental concerns. The trial court dismissed the plaintiffs’ administrative appeals, rejecting the claim that the siting council lacked jurisdiction over BNE’s petitions for declaratory rulings because BNE did not propose a “facility” as contemplated by § 16-50k (a) because “facility” is defined by General Statutes § 16-50i (a) (3) as “any electric generating or storage facility using any fuel. . . .” The plaintiffs argued unsuccessfully that “fuel” does not encompass wind power. The court also rejected the plaintiffs’ claim that the siting council lacked the statutory authority to attach the conditions to its declaratory rulings. The plaintiffs challenge the trial court’s rulings in these appeals from the judgments of dismissal. The plaintiffs also claim on appeal that the court wrongly affirmed the siting council’s finding that the turbines would satisfy state noise regulations where they contend that the noise levels were improperly measured at neighboring homes rather than at neighboring property lines. Finally, the plaintiffs contend that the trial court wrongly rejected their claim that they were denied due process when the siting council limited their cross-examination of witnesses, deniedthem continuances to review new evidence and restricted their access to technical information provided by the manufacturer of the wind turbines.