Wind energy needs zoning


Over the past few years we have seen tremendous growth in the efficiency, effectiveness, and use of wind power. In our report Zoned Out, we analyzed different approaches to zoning commercial wind energy systems. The report ( also broke down the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches, and what makes for effective zoning standards.

Wind energy zoning remains generally uncoordinated and subject to state and local regulations, resulting in a piecemeal approach where zoning standards vary between states and within states. In order for wind energy development to continue increasing, there must be an effective approach to wind energy zoning implemented that reduces inconsistency and unpredictability. Zoning authorities must aim for efficient and effective standards, incorporating considerations from the local areas where wind development would take place. The key to effective wind siting and zoning regulation, however, is to strike the right balance between local and state control. Authorities at the state and local level must consider the pros and cons that can result from difference ordinances.

As wind power continues to play a bigger role in meeting our energy demands, controversies and questions from local communities have arisen. How will this affect my community? What are the rules for wind energy development? These questions, and others, make it vitally important that we craft regulations that incorporate local preferences and address local concerns, while also providing clear and consistent standards for developers.

By Lu Nelsen

Contributing columnist

Lu Nelsen of the Center for Rural Affairs can be reached at [email protected]. Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.

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