Connecticut’s First Utility-Scale Wind Farm Is Nearly Complete

Mark Del Franco
Written by Mark Del Franco
on September 28, 2015 No Comments
Categories : New & Noteworthy

The principals behind Colebrook, Conn.-based BNE Energy are here to dispel a myth about the lack of wind development currently in the Nutmeg State.

‘There is wind in Connecticut; you just have to know where to look for it,’ explains Gregory J. Zupkus, president and CEO of BNE Energy, which is on the cusp of completing the Wind Colebrook South wind farm next month.

BNE Energy's two-turbine project consists of two GE 2.85-103 wind turbines with a hub height of 98.3 meters. Utility Eversource Energy has agreed to buy the project's output, which will be capped at 5 MW per its power purchase agreement.

When completed, Wind Colebrook South will be Connecticut's first utility-scale wind project. A 100 kW Northland wind turbine – which powers a New Haven-based printing press – is clearly visible along the state's Interstate 95 corridor, but BNE's will be the first utility-scale wind turbines in the Nutmeg State.

Being a pioneer of sorts, it's only natural that BNE Energy would face some opposition early on.

‘Since we were the first wind project in Connecticut, we had to blaze a trail,’ Zupkus explains.

In fact, the first project the developer took to the state in 2010 was rejected. The project faced significant opposition from a few local residents who were concerned that the wind farm would have a negative effect on the visual aesthetics of the town. Residents also expressed concern over noise and impacts to birds.Â

Nonetheless, Zupkus and partner Paul J. Corey, the firm's chairman, ultimately prevailed by adhering to best practices, designing the project to mitigate potential impacts and demonstrating the overwhelming benefits of renewable wind energy to the Connecticut Siting Council, which approved the project in June 2011.

After receiving the green light from the state, there was still the challenge presented by component delivery: How would the turbines be delivered, and what route would they take? This is not an insignificant matter, as the state's leafy suburbs are unaccustomed to sharing the roads with tractor-trailors hauling wind components.

At last, Zupkus explains, delivery occurred mostly at night – the time Connecticut law designates for superloads – the logistical classification for wind turbine components.   Â

Alas, Zupkus and Corey maintain their Connecticut experience hasn't jaded them. In fact, in some ways, the delay ended up working in their favor.Â

‘The good thing about the delay is that we got to take advantage of the latest and greatest technology,’ Zupkus says. ‘If we were allowed to build at the start, we would have missed out on the latest turbine advances,’ Zupkus explains, adding that turbine provider – and Connecticut neighbor – GE was an integral partner in their effort.Â

As such, the developer is currently seeking other wind opportunities to develop, build and own wind farms in Connecticut and the surrounding area.Â

In fact, the developers are hoping to add a third wind turbine to Wind Colebrook South project next year by accessing a joint request for proposal recently put out by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection as part of a Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island procurement that seeks Class I renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, between 2 MW to 20 MW.

Adds Corey, ‘[Connecticut wind] is never going to be Texas, but it should be a greater part of the energy mix.’

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