Commercial Scale

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.

Wisconsin PSC Seeks Wind Siting Rules Comments

May 21, 2010 - 9:54am -- Anonymous

Madison - The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) is seeking public comment on the proposed wind siting rules, issued today by the PSC. The proposed rules will ultimately result in uniform wind siting standards for local units of government in Wisconsin and ensure consistent local procedures for regulation of wind energy systems.

Permitting Wind Projects in Minnesota

Proposed wind energy projects in Minnesota with a total nameplate capacity of 5MW and greater are subject to state regulation while projects under that threshold are subject to local regulation. For more information about the state permitting requirements and process, visit MN Public Utilities Commission.

Additionally, counties may elect to assume the authority to regulate wind projects up to 25MW. In order to make this election, a county must submit a letter of their intention to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission along with copies of any regulations adopted that are more stringent than the state guidelines.

Category State Minimum Setback
Wind Access Buffer (setback from land not under permittee's control) 3 rotor diameters on east-west axis and 5 rotor diameters on north-south axis
Internal turbine spacing 3 rotor diameters crosswind by 5 rotor diameters downwind
Noise Distance sufficient to meet state standard of 50dBA at night
Homes At least 500 ft and sufficient distance to meet noise standard
Public Roads 250 ft
Meteorological Towers 250 ft
Wetlands, Native Prairie, Sand and Gravel Operations Variance required for approval

 

 

Minnesota County Wind Ordinances

As of April 1, 2010, there are 87 counties in Minnesota, of which 61 had specific wind energy conversion system ordinances applicable to commercial scale wind projects. Our review of these 61 county ordinances currently regulating wind energy conversion systems in Minnesota focused on 15 specific categories:

Common categories of local regulation of wind turbines  # of MN Counties
Identification of certain zoning districts that are allowed to have wind turbines 44
Whether a permit is required 61
Setbacks, including those from neighboring properties, public roads and right of ways, and conservation lands 59
Density of turbines or internal turbine spacing and distance 18
Height requirements that regulate the total maximum allowed height of a wind turbine in the county 21
Clearance between the ground and the blades 37
Standards for creating and maintaining access roads 4
Regulations on treatment of feeder and communication lines, generally requiring them to be buried 44
Requirement of brakes or other safety equipment in the turbine to prevent catastrophic failures 24
Standards for color, finish and overall appearance of the wind turbines 54
Signs for safety and identification of owner or other emergency contact 57
Decommissioning requirements 53
Identification of potential for signal and broadcast interference 41
Maximum noise thresholds 52
Regulations on lighting of the turbines 52

JEDI Analysis in the Great Lakes Webinar

2010

Times are EDT - The Great Lakes Wind Collaborative (GLWC) Economic Development Workgroup invites you to join Suzanne Tegen, Senior Energy Analyst at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), and David G. Loomis, Associate Professor of Economics at Illinois State University and Chair of the GLWC Economic Development Workgroup, for a 75 minute webinar to learn how to use the Jobs and Economic Development Impacts (JEDI) model and hear how a JEDI analysis can demonstrate the economic benefits of wind energy in your state, region or community.

Event type: 

Unprecedented Growth of U.S. and Global Wind Energy

April 16, 2010 - 6:21pm -- Anonymous

But Will the Growth Continue?

United States wind power capacity increased by over 10 gigawatts (GW) in 2009, 20% more than was added in 2008, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). That brings total U.S. capacity to over 35 GW, more than any other country on the planet, providing 1.8% of our national electric power. Similarly, the demand for small wind systems for residential and small business use (rated capacity of 100 kW or less) grew 15% in 2009, adding 20 MW of generating capacity to the nation.

Massachusetts Community-Scale Wind Initiative Funding

March 26, 2010 - 2:07pm -- Anonymous

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center's (MassCEC) Community-Scale Wind Initiative awards grants for qualifying wind projects with a nameplate capacity greater than or equal to 100 kilowatts (kW.) A project is eligible for funding if it is located at a commercial, industrial, institutional, or public site, and if the electric system will be served by a Massachusetts investor-owned electric utility company or a Municipal Light Plant Department that pays into the Renewable Energy Trust Fund.

St. Olaf Wind Turbine Case Study

For decades, Saint Olaf College has been thinking carefully about its energy consumption and impacts on the environment. On the 19th of September 2006, a 1.65 megawatt turbine became a symbol of its commitment to sustainability.

Pete Sandberg, the man who spearheaded the college's effort to erect its own turbine, came to St. Olaf in the 1980s and currently serves as the Assistant Vice President for Facilities. Since he arrived at St. Olaf, Sandberg has been involved in numerous efforts to reduce the college's impact on the environment. As early as the 1980s, St. Olaf considered restoring its land to the condition it was in before European settlement. Long before the current level of concern about climate change, Sandberg and his colleagues realized that sequestering carbon in the soil and vegetation would have been an added benefit of this conservation and restoration initiative.

An Independent Grid

In the 1990s, St. Olaf took proactive steps to upgrade its electrical supply and distribution system. In 1999, the college installed three diesel generators, which can produce up to 4.2 megawatts of electricity. St. Olaf also upgraded its internal electrical distribution system from to a 13.8kV line that loops through campus in an underground tunnel. Thanks to these investments, St. Olaf can provide electricity to almost all of its buildings even in the event of a blackout. The ability to do so allows the college to qualify as an interruptible customer and to take advantage of lower rates from its electric utility, Xcel Energy. As a result, the college saves about $150,000 every year on its electricity costs. In addition to benefiting from lower energy bills, these investments later played a key role in helping St. Olaf optimize the use of its own wind turbine.

The Seed Was Planted

In the early 2000s St. Olaf began to explore a future for wind energy on its campus, and the idea of installing a wind turbine grew out of both conviction and practicality. At the time, the college was in the early stages of planning a new 100,000 square-foot science center that would consume a significant amount of electricity. Despite pursuing LEED certification and maximizing energy efficiency, Sandberg and staff had been left to wonder how they might further reduce the operating cost impact of adding this new building to the campus grid. On-site renewable generation emerged as a potential alternative to buying more electricity from Xcel.

Plans for the wind turbine gained momentum in 2003. That spring, Honor the Earth and the Indigo Girls came to St. Olaf to launch a national tour aiming to raise money and create a groundswell of awareness and support for wind projects on Native American lands. The event also generated interest among students to begin exploring how they might sustainably harness wind energy on their campus. Little did they know, Sandberg was already one step ahead, having passed on to the administration an initial proposal to construct four wind turbines at St. Olaf.

Getting the Money and the Machine

Planning for the wind turbine began in earnest when Sandberg applied to the Xcel Energy Renewable Development Fund in response to their second request for proposals in 2004. While St. Olaf ultimately received funding, this proved to be a mixed blessing. While the college waited for the Public Utilities Commission to approve their grant contract, the federal government renewed the production tax credit which unleashed a burst of wind energy development activity. As a result of the high demand and tight supply, what Sandberg originally projected to be a $1.9 million project rose to over $2.5 million. Undeterred, St. Olaf gladly accepted the $1.5 million grant and paid upfront for the remaining costs out of their capital operating budget.

The Economic Benefits

St. Olaf worked with Windlogics, a wind resource assessment company, and determined a feasible site less than a quarter of a mile northwest of campus. The proximity made it economically feasible to connect the wind turbine to the campus' internal distribution loop, which paid off in a major way. By interconnecting with the campus grid, St. Olaf is able to consume the wind-generated electricity on-site and therefore reduce their energy imports from Xcel. The school only sells excess wind energy to Xcel at night and during break periods, when campus demand is low.

This arrangement translates into a significant financial advantage. Instead of selling their entire production to Xcel for the standard small wind tariff of 3.3 cents/kWh, St. Olaf reduces its purchases from Xcel which are set at a rate of 6.2 cents/kWh. As a result, the school is able to save about $250,000 per year on electricity bills. Since this dwarfs the $36,000 in operation and maintenance that the school pays in its service contract for the turbine, St. Olaf expects to recuperate its initial capital investment four to five years after the turbine blades began to spin.

Bumps in the Road

The road to acquiring their own turbine has not been without surprises or setbacks. While awaiting a decision from the Renewable Development Fund, not only did the project's capital costs spike, but the company from which St. Olaf originally planned to purchase a turbine, NEG Micon, was acquired by Vestas. Consequently the school had to re-enter negotiations with Vestas and ultimately sign a more expensive service contract. Accepting the grant set limits on St. Olaf in other ways, too. One of the conditions required St. Olaf to pass all environmental attributes of the wind energy, sometimes called green tags or renewable energy credits, to Xcel. Furthermore, St. Olaf was also not eligible for the Minnesota Renewable Energy Production Incentive, which ceased accepting new applicants in 2005. A final surprise came after the turbine went up and production numbers failed to meet the projections. Initial estimates projected 6 million kWh of energy would flow from the turbine each year, but annual figures to date have averaged about 4.5 million kWh-roughly a quarter of the school's yearly electricity consumption. Luckily, though, this underperformance has not significantly impacted the financial viability of the project, which remains on-schedule to pay for itself by 2011.

Overall, Pete Sandberg considers the St. Olaf wind turbine an unequivocal success. It stands tall as a source of pride for the school and a highly visible symbol of the college's commitment to the environment. The wind turbine also offers learning opportunities for professors to incorporate into their courses. Sandberg is regularly called upon to give tours to groups who come to learn about wind energy from greater Northfield and beyond. Indeed, St. Olaf serves as a model for many other campuses around the country that contact Sandberg to learn how they might replicate his success. Although St. Olaf currently has no plans to add another turbine, the one they already have is not likely to fade into oblivion. The campus plans to transform the site of the turbine into a living model of sustainability. Student groups will practice organic agriculture on some of the surrounding farmland, and nearby a new building covered in solar panels will house art studios and produce enough electricity to meet on-site needs and feed excess into the St. Olaf grid.

Aeronautica Windpower

Turbine sizes: 225kW and 750kW

Aeronautica Windpower manufactures mid-scale 225kW and 750kW wind turbines in Durham, NH for the North American markets. These mid-scale turbines are appropriate for schools, industry/commercial, green communities, municipalities and agriculture.

Aeronautica Windpower
11 Resnik Road
Plymouth, MA 02360
www.AeronauticaWind.com
800-360-0132

Economic Development Impacts of Community Wind Projects: A Review and Empirical Evaluation

“Economic Development Impacts of Community Wind Projects: A Review and Empirical Evaluation” by E. Lantz and S. Tegen, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in April 2009.

Community wind projects have long been touted (both anecdotally and in the literature) to increase the economic development impacts of wind projects, but most analyses of community wind have been based on expected results from hypothetical projects. This report provides a review of previous economic development analyses of community wind projects and compares these projected results with empirical impacts from projects currently in operation.

Read the Report

Advanced Renewable Tariffs for Wisconsin Analysis and Case Study

"Advanced Renewable Tariffs for Wisconsin: Analysis and Case Study" was prepared by the University of Wisconsin Madison Energy Analysis & Policy Certificate Capstone Project.

ART is a policy which aims to encourage customer-sited development of renewable energy. An ART is unique because a regular customer becomes the producer (who we will refer to as a Renewable Power Producer (RPP)), and the electric utility becomes the customer. This is different than net metering and a RPS; net metering is essentially running the kWh meter backwards-thus, the value for a kWh of renewable electricity is equal to the retail rate-while a RPS establishes a quantity obligation.

There are many ways to establish energy payments for an ART. The various methods are primarily based on:

  1. Generation cost, which provides a payment based on the cost of the technology
  2. Avoided cost, which sets the payment based on displacing fossil fuel-based generation
  3. Premium rates, which establish energy payment at a specified level above the retail rate for electricity

This analysis uses a generation cost approach-generation cost is the most common form and is consistent with the Governor‘s Task Force on Global Warming-to determine energy payments for each renewable technology.

Pages

Subscribe to Commercial Scale