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Wind Permitting Toolkit and Model Zoning Ordinance: A WINDExchange Webinar
March 16, 2016
The permitting process for wind energy projects can vary greatly from county to county, and this lack of uniformity often leads to inefficiencies for permitting agencies and their constituents.
Mia Devine, project manager at Northwest SEED, presented the new Wind Permitting Toolkit. The toolkit provides information on how jurisdictions can standardize their zoning regulations and permitting processes to ensure safe and cost-effective wind energy development that is appropriate for their communities. The toolkit includes examples of incorporating wind energy into comprehensive plans and a model zoning ordinance.
Dana Peck, executive director at the Greater Goldendale Chamber of Commerce, shared a rural county's experience on creating a programmatic environmental impact statement and related planning changes to shape renewable energy project permitting and the subsequent development of 1.2 gigawatts of wind projects, which doubled the county tax base and underpinned the financial viability of many ranching families.
Padma Kasthurirangan, vice president of Niagara Wind & Solar, Inc., presented two case studies that explained how certain tools have positively impacted the permitting process in the state of New York. With 62 counties and 932 towns with home-rule law, it is challenging to permit almost anything in New York. Small wind permitting is made more complex by a lack of awareness about the industry and applicable standards, resulting in small wind projects challenged to meet the requirements. Niagara Wind & Solar focuses on distributed wind for farms, primarily because of siting and relative permitting ease, and has had some success with the tools developed in the Distributed Wind Energy Association's Permitting & Zoning Committee.