AWEA Releases New Small Wind Handbook

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) have released the most comprehensive guide to date for small wind turbine owners and local officials seeking to understand and improve permitting regulations affecting small wind energy systems.

Washington, D.C. – October 7, 2003 [] Prospective turbine owners and planning officials alike will find the handbook, “Permitting Small Wind Turbines: Learning from the California Experience,” useful reading. It is the first publication to explain in detail how California’s groundbreaking state law (Assembly Bill 1207), establishing permitting standards for small wind energy systems, applies at local levels. The guide also directs turbine owners to special state incentives that reduce the costs of small-scale renewable energy installations. “The state of California has sent a clear message that it wants small wind turbines to help shore up our energy supply,” said Bob Therkelsen, CEC Executive Director. “This handbook will help wind turbine owners negotiate the local permitting process and let county and other local officials know what they can do to make that process easier.” The handbook is also a valuable resource for counties and residents outside California because it provides up-to-date information to address the most common issues raised in response to small wind turbine installations, including visual impacts, acoustics, concern for wildlife, and property values. It concludes with a model small wind zoning ordinance that AWEA recommends for all counties across the country, and provides recommendations for best practices with a list of “dos and don’ts” for counties reviewing small wind permit applications. “This handbook fills a long-standing need for information about small wind turbines and how local agencies can make sure prospective turbine owners are treated fairly in obtaining permits for their machines. The CEC deserves a lot of credit for taking the initiative to make it happen,” commented AWEA deputy executive director Tom Gray. The handbook is built on lessons learned in a state that has made significant efforts to promote small wind turbine development. It uses specific case studies and county ordinances to illustrate the progress that has been made, highlight personal experiences, and recommend solutions that could simplify permitting processes in the future. Noteworthy sections include: – A review of the most common issues neighbors raise about small wind turbines, with documented facts that refute the myths, including Web links to reference publications. – A step-by-step checklist for obtaining a permit for a small wind energy system in California. – An explanation of permitting ordinances for small wind systems in select California counties. – Descriptions of policies that have proven both productive and counterproductive for small wind development. – An extensive reference section that includes contact information and links for county officials, state programs that offer incentives for small wind turbines, wind maps and other resources, turbine dealers and manufacturers, and advocacy groups that promote residential energy systems. As part of the project, AWEA prepared a ranking of windy acreage by county and zip code based on the new wind maps developed by the California Energy Commission. “Permitting Small Wind Turbines” was written by AWEA’s small wind advocate team, directed by Heather Rhoads-Weaver, in cooperation with Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (NW SEED). The publication is available online at the link below and printed copies can be ordered from the California Energy Commission.


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