Permitting and Zoning

Securing necessary permits and zoning approval is an essential step for all energy projects. The processes and information required for permitting wind projects vary across applications and geographic areas.


Understand Permitting and Zoning. This section of WINDExchange’s Small Community Wind Handbook discusses ordinances, zoning, and permitting related to community wind projects.

Wind Energy Ordinances. Ordinances regulate aspects of wind projects such as their location, permitting process, and construction and provide clarity to wind developers and the public. WINDExchange compiled this database of wind energy ordinances from around the country.

Wind Energy and Eagles: The Problem, the Permit, and the Path Forward: A WINDExchange Webinar. A recording and presentation are available for this webinar featuring Wally Erickson of WEST Inc., who presented on the conservation and permitting challenges associated with wind and eagles; Annie Mudge of Cox, Castle, & Nicholson, who discussed EDF Renewable Energy’s experience receiving the first eagle take permit under the new permitting rules and permitting challenges going forward; and Ian Evans of the American Wind Wildlife Institute, who presented on future eagle research needed to address permitting challenges.


Wind Energy and Wind Park Siting and Zoning Best Practices and Guidance for States. This report from the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners provides guidelines for managing the siting and zoning processes and applying siting and zoning principles to wind energy decision making.

Standardization of Permitting and Zoning (for Distributed Wind). The Northwest Wind Resource and Action Center created this permitting toolkit based on industry best practices and positive examples already in place in the region. The toolkit includes guidance on incorporating wind energy into comprehensive energy plans and a model wind energy zoning ordinance.

Federal Agency Siting Requirements

Military Aviation and Installation Assurance Siting Clearinghouse. The Siting Clearinghouse website provides a central location for information related to siting energy projects near U.S. military istallations. This resource is designed to help interested individuals and organizations understand the mission impact of proposed energy projects near military activities, as well as the Department’s mission compatibility evaluation process, procedures, and mitigation opportunities. A Preliminary Screening Tool is also available.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines. As a result of concerns related to migrating birds and endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee issued land-based wind energy guidelines in March 2012. This document discusses development of wind energy projects and compliance with the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Bureau of Land Management Renewable Energy Rule. The Renewable Energy Rule streamlines review processes and provides financial incentives designed to encourage development within designated leasing areas.

U.S. Forest Service and BLM Energy Documents. This website includes wind energy documents addressing agency protocol for planning, permitting, right of way, and wildlife monitoring.

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Renewable Energy Programs. The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management oversees offshore renewable energy development in federal waters, including offshore wind energy.


Organizations are working to provide fact-based information about the challenges related to wind project permitting, such as those surrounding wildlife or electric power system integration.

Renewable Energy Wildlife Institute is a partnership of leaders in the wind industry, wildlife management agencies, and science and environmental organizations who collaborate to facilitate responsible development of wind energy while protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Bat Conservation International, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the American Wind Energy Association, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory formed the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative to research bat fatalities at wind development sites and to find solutions.

Transmission and Grid Integration Resources

Western Grid Group develops and works to implement policies to improve the efficiency of the existing grid to provide near-term access for clean power.

Clean Grid Alliance works with utilities, the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, and other stakeholders on comprehensive, integrated transmission planning. The group also works with stakeholders to understand the operating impacts of integrating wind into the electrical power system.

The Energy Systems Integration Group addresses technical challenges associated with integrating multiple energy systems to enable clean, reliable, and affordable energy systems worldwide.