April 13, 2006

Taking the wind from developers' sails

The County Board of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, after a year-long moratorium while viable guidelines for wind power development were hashed out, passed an ordinance last night regulating large wind turbines by a vote of 23-2.

Notable aspects limit the noise to 5 dB(A) above the ambient level, prohibit shadows to touch any part of neighboring property, and require the turbines to be at least 1,000 feet from neighboring property lines.

According to WINDCOWS, whose members worked long and hard for this ordinance, one of the big backers of the developers on the county board, who was chair of Planning and Parks, was voted out of office last week, replaced by a WINDCOWS member. Three other members were elected to town boards last year. Besides the group's clear mastery of the facts, these elections showed the public support for strong protection against industrial wind development.

The noise limit is significant. In Oregon, where the limit for rural areas was 10 dB(A) above the ambient level, the wind developers complained that they could not possibly meet that standard. Instead of sending them packing and preserving this modest protection from noise pollution, however, the state revised the law to satisfy the industry.

Congratulations, WINDCOWS and Manitowoc County!

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines