New Milford residents sue state over solar panel project

NEW MILFORD –

A group of New Milford residents is suing the state over a massive solar panel project.

The project by a group called Candlewood Solar is planned for 80 acres of land off Candlewood Mountain Road in New Milford. Construction could begin this spring, resulting in 60,000 solar panels covering the now-empty field and woods.

Candlewood Solar is promising 100 construction jobs and a $50 million investment, but neighbors say the Connecticut Siting Council, which must approve such projects, rushed the plans and that it has not been well thought-out.

"There’s been no study done within Connecticut to determine where the best locations are, and that’s what initiated this lawsuit — this law — and that’s what really needs to be done," says Carl Dunham, of New Milford.

Those who filed the lawsuit say they want the Siting Council ruling overturned, or, at the very least, they want a full environmental review of the project. The council also approved the project despite objections from the town, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Agriculture.

Liba Furhman, the former New Milford mayor, is among those opposed to the project.

"It’s sinful," she says. "The electricity that they’re going to generate is not for Connecticut. It’s for Massachusetts and Rhode Island."

The lawsuit also says that glare from the solar panels could jeopardize a nearby airstrip.

The head of the Siting Council said Friday that she has "full confidence in our final decision on the project."

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