County Wind Ordinance Survey

The County Wind Ordinance Survey was designed to help users navigate through the permitting regulations for wind energy development at the local level. The information provided will be useful for all wind developers but specifically targets Community Wind developers who are interested in local permitting and siting rules as well as local officials who are working to develop wind ordinances for their area. This survey provides a single place to access the local permitting and siting rules for a certain area as well as providing additional resources for information relating to wind energy siting, such as wildlife interactions and federal permit requirements.

This survey fills an important role in supporting Community Wind by providing an easily accessible and understandable mechanism that will help rural residents to more easily navigate the local wind energy permitting and siting process and will assist local officials who are working to develop wind ordinances in their area. This first phase of our expanding County Wind Ordinance Survey builds on the research performed by a university intern and focuses on Minnesota because of its leadership in successful Community Wind development.

Read specific information from the survey about Permitting Wind Projects in Minnesota.

Using the County Wind Ordinance Survey

The Windustry County Wind Ordinance Survey provides basic information about each county and a quantitative listing of the wind energy regulations that exist in that county, if applicable. Similarly this resource can provide a listing of the counties that regulate in a particular category. Also included in the survey is a listing of the many other informational resources that are available on permitting of wind energy conversion systems. Phase One of the project focused only on Minnesota counties, however this resource will be expanded to include additional states in the future.

Once you have selected the desired state, there are two ways to search for information:

  1. Search by County: Searching for the regulations by county is particularly useful if you are interested in all the areas of regulation within a particular county. Also, this option allows for county officials to look at what regulations nearby counties or similar counties across the state have found to be important.
  2. Search by Regulation: Searching for county regulations in a particular category is useful for local officials and state regulators who are interested in seeing which counties find a certain category of regulation to be important in their area. View Permitting Regulation Categories in the Windustry Wind Energy Glossary for definitions.
MN County Wind Ordinance Survey
Click above link for interactive tool.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wind Turbine Guidelines

In 2007 the Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee was established to provide advice and recommendations on developing effective measure to avoid or minimize impacts to wildlife and their habitats related to land-based wind energy facilities. The Committee is comprised of 22 members representing federal, state, and tribal governments, wildlife conservation organizations, and the wind industry. 

The Committee's guidelines are founded on a "tiered approach" for assessing potential impacts to wildlife and their habitats. This allows developers to identify potential problems at each stage of development. To find contact information and to download the guidelines and recommendations, visit the USFWS Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee homepage

Wind Energy Siting Handbook from AWEA

According to the AWEA website, "The Wind Energy Siting Handbook was developed by the AWEA Siting Committee to inform wind energy developers and other interested parties about environmental siting issues relevant to land-based commercial-scale wind energy project development in the United States.

"This handbook has been designed to provide technical information and useful tools based on the industry’s collective experience in siting wind energy projects and assessing potential impacts."

Click here to go to the AWEA website to download this 178-page document.

Wind Rose

A wind rose shows the direction and the frequency of that direction that the wind blows at a particular location. Wind roses are used in wind projects to portray the amount of energy that comes into the wind project from various directions.

Wake Losses

The space behind a wind turbine that is marked by decreased wind power capacity due to the fact that the turbine itself used the energy in turning the blades. The wind behind the turbine, in its wake, is less effective at generating energy for a certain distance in the downwind direction due to turbulence created by the upwind machine. Thus, when siting a wind farm, it is important to space turbines as to minimize the impact each has on the others’ power production capacity, taking into account additional costs for laying of electrical cable and other infrastructure required when machines are spaced further apart.


A term used in siting and permitting for the construction of structures that refers to the distance from the base of the structure to existing easements, roads, buildings, bodies of water, or other geographic or man-made structures or property lines.

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