Republican-american article # 2, august 21, 2018
Just a few corrections to below:
- Lisa and Mike Ostrove are not pilots.
- Carl Dunham does not own Candlelight Airport.
Group files complaint over solar project
BY KURT MOFFETT Republican-American
August 21, 2018
Kurt Moffett/Republican-American NEW MILFORD – The state agency that approved a solar-generated energy facility in December 2017 made numerous mistakes in reaching its decision, a group of concerned residents contend in a recently filed legal document in New Britain Superior Court.
The group, dubbed Rescue Candlewood Mountain, states in the document attorney Daniel E. Casagrande filed Aug. 9 that the state Siting Council “committed irreversible error” by approving the project in “the face of the developer’s failure to provide critical information on the effect this massive razing of forestland will have on important natural resources on the site, including several vernal pools and the upland habitats of the rare species who depend on the forest and the pools for their survival.”
Rescue Candlewood Mountain, along with members Lisa and Michael Ostrove, who are also members of Candlelight Farms Aviation, appealed the council’s decision in February to not require the builder, Massachusetts-based Candlewood Solar, to have a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for the construction, operation and maintenance of the solar power farm on Candlewood Mountain. They object to the clear-cutting of 15,000 trees on 84 acres to make way for 60,000 solar panels for a 20-megawatt electric energy plant that would sell the electricity to utilities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Candlewood Solar submitted its proposed project last year to the New England Clean Energy Request for Proposals, a three-state solicitation by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection that included Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Connecticut did not select Candlewood while Massachusetts and Rhode Island did.
DEEP has had environmental concerns about Candlewood’s project, particularly about the loss of more forest land and the subsequent impact that has on wildlife.
The Housatonic Valley Association is also concerned. Association Regional Conservation Director Tim Abbott has said the state should have given Candlewood’s project a “more careful review” than it had. He said Candlewood’s proposal was “rushed through” the application phase in June 2017, just before July 1, when changes in state law would have required a more extensive examination by multiple state agencies that oppose it, including the DEEP and the state Department of Agriculture.
Casagrande said state law requires the Siting Council to deny a “fast-track” ruling on Candlewood’s application because the DEEP told the Council the project would have “a materially adverse effect on this core forest.
“The council improperly ruled that the new law – whose obvious purpose is to protect the ever-increasing loss of forest in our state – did not apply to this petition because the developer filed it three days before the effective date of the law,” Casagrande wrote in his Aug. 9 legal brief.
The council stated in its Dec. 21 ruling that Candlewood’s proposal would not negatively affect the environment and that it met all applicable water quality standards.
Casagrande in his brief stated the Council also abused its discretion in other ways, including:
Failing to require Candlewood to submit a decommissioning plan. Candlewood’s proposal calls for it to lease the land for 20 years. The plaintiffs said Candlewood should be required to return the area to its forested state when the lease expires.
Approving the project with the hope that Candlewood would be able to have a 100-acre conservation easement placed on another portion of the property, when there was no proof that either the current or prospective property owner would agree to such a restriction.
Approving the proposal even though Candlewood admitted it had not searched for any alternative sites outside of New Milford.
Approving the project without requiring the developer to perform necessary environmental testing and studies, or to submit a meaningful storm-water runoff prevention plan that would protect nearby residences.
Meanwhile, there is a separate appeal pending from another resident and owner of Candlelight Farms Airport, Carl M. Dunham, Jr. He states in his appeal that the airport is approximately a half mile from the proposed solar project and his primary concern is how the sun’s glare reflecting off the panels would affect pilots’ ability to see while flying a plane.