Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Model large wind energy ordinance

A model ordinance for small wind, from Malone, New York, has been previously presented. The Malone definition of small wind energy systems is more realistic than the one reproduced here. Malone limits small wind systems to 10 kW and to tower heights of 65 feet on parcels of 1-5 acres and 100 feet on parcels over 5 acres. The Malone ordinance also requires 1500-ft setbacks for large wind energy systems if they are forced through despite the ordinance's outright ban. (Manitowoc also produced an ordinance for small wind, but it is highly restrictive because of efforts by wind company representatives on the drafting committee to sabotage the whole law-making effort.)

The Manitowoc County ordinance, which became effect May 1, is notable for its strict limitation of noise to 5 dB(A) above the ambient level at any point on neighboring property. Here are excerpts.

Large Wind Energy System Ordinance

"Large wind system" means a wind tower and turbine that has a nameplate capacity of more than 100 kilowatts or a total height of more than 170 feet, or both.

24.06. Standards

(1) Location. (a) A large wind system may only be located in areas that are zoned A3-Agriculture or PA-Prime Agricultural. (b) A wind tower may not be located within one-quarter mile of any area that is zoned C1-Conservancy or NA-Natural Area or within one-quarter mile of any state or county forest, hunting area, lake access, natural area, or park.

(2) Set Backs. The wind tower in a large wind system and each wind tower in a wind farm system must be set back:

(a) at least 1.1 times the total height of the large wind system from the property line of a participating property.

(b) at least 1,000 feet from the property line of a nonparticipating property unless the owner of the nonparticipating property grants an easement for a lesser setback. The easement must be recorded with the Register of Deeds and may not provide for a setback that is less than 1.1 times the total height of the large wind system.

(c) at least 1.1 times the total height of the large wind system or 500 feet, whichever is greater, from any public road or power line right-of-way.

(10) Lighting. A wind tower and turbine may not be artificially lighted unless such lighting is required by the Federal Aviation Administration. If lighting is required, the lighting must comply with FAA minimum requirements and, whenever possible, be at the lowest intensity allowed, avoid the use of strobe or other intermittent white lights, and use steady red lights. If more than one lighting alternative is available, the alternative that causes the least visual disturbance must be used.

(12) Appearance, Color, and Finish. The exterior surface of any visible components of a wind energy system must be a nonreflective, neutral color. Wind towers and turbines in a wind farm system that are located within one mile of each other must be of uniform design, including tower type, color, number of blades, and direction of blade rotation.

(13) Signs. No wind turbine, tower, building, or other structure associated with a wind energy system may be used to advertise or promote any product or service. No word or graphic representation, other than appropriate warning signs and owner or landowner identification, may be placed on a wind turbine, tower, building, or other structure associated with a wind energy system so as to be visible from any public road.

(14) Noise. The noise generated by the operation of a large wind energy system may not exceed the ambient noise level by more than 5 dB(A) as measured at any point on property adjacent to the parcel on which the large wind energy system is located. The noise level generated by the operation of a large wind energy system will be determined during the investigation of a noise complaint by comparing the sound level measured when the wind generator blades are rotating to the sound level measured when the wind generator blades are stopped.

(15) Flicker or Shadow Flicker. The owner of a large wind system must take such reasonable steps as are necessary to prevent, mitigate, and eliminate shadow flicker on any occupied structure on a nonparticipating property.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, animal rights