Project Development/Planning

What is required for a wind project to be successful?

In general, a "successful" wind project is one that makes financial sense.

Five things are needed if your wind project is going to be successful; they can be remembered with the acronym CEWPI (pronounced QP):

  • C for Community support, or at least not Community resistence,
  • E for minimal Environmental impact, meaning that the project isn't located in a wetland, or close to an airport landing path, or close to a cell tower, or residential buildings, or in an endangered species habitat, etc.,
  • W for a good Wind resource,
  • P for a Purchaser of the electricity at a good rate. (If you will be using the electricity yourself, then you are the purchaser.)
  • I for an economical ability to Interconnect the project to the purchaser.

A Visual Impact Assessment Process for Wind Energy Projects

Visual impacts associated with wind development projects are often among the issues of greatest concern for surrounding property owners and the community. A guide issued by the Clean Energy States Alliance, A Visual Impact Assessment Process for Wind Energy Projects, provides an effective and objective aesthetic impact assessment review methodology that provides clear guidance for developers, planners, and regulatory decision makers and also ensures the protection of important scenic and cultural resources.

“As wind development continues to grow throughout the United States, many state and local governments are in the process of creating or revising their evaluation processes for assessing visual impacts of wind energy projects,” states the report. “There is little consistency as to what information should be submitted by a wind developer to the relevant regulatory review body. The basis for evaluating and determining the degree of visual impacts presented by proposed wind projects is often poorly understood by regulators, developers, and the general public. Establishment of clear and consistent visual impact review processes will assist developers and regulators alike and provide greater public confidence in the integrity and fairness of regulatory decision making for wind project siting.”

A Visual Impact Assessment Process for Wind Energy Projects is available on the CESA website.

Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) is a nonprofit coalition of state clean energy funds working together to develop and promote clean energy technologies and markets. 

Factsheet on Wind Turbine Interactions with Birds and Bats

The National Wind Coordinating Collaborative has released an updated factsheet summarizing the interactions between wind turbines and bird and bat populations in the U.S. The information is divided into three categories: conclusions that have broad consensus, ideas that have been presented but not broadly supported yet, and areas where knowledge gaps remain.

This factsheet is only a summary of existing literature and studies and does not provide new scientific analysis or information about these interactions. Also provided is an extensive and detailed listing of citations used in the factsheet.

Visit the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative's website to learn more and to download the factsheet. 

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

Study Finds No Impact of Wind Projects on Property Values

A new study answers a long-nagging question of whether property values will decline due to nearby wind energy development. The answer is no, according to a report released by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy: "The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United States: A Multi-Site Hedonic Analysis."

"Neither the view of wind energy facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities was found to have any consistent, measurable, and significant effect on the selling prices of nearby homes,"

—Ben Hoen, report author
A overwhelming majority of Americans support wind farm projects over other types of new power sources that might be built in their community [U.S. Saint Index© survey]. However, concerns over property values can arise when residents learn of plans for nearby wind farm projects. While such concerns are not unreasonable, given property value effects that have been found near high voltage transmission lines, landfills, and other electric generation facilities; the impacts of wind energy facilities on nearby home sales had not previously been investigated thoroughly.

"Neither the view of wind energy facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities was found to have any consistent, measurable, and significant effect on the selling prices of nearby homes," says report author Ben Hoen, a consultant to Berkeley Lab. "No matter how we looked at the data, the same result kept coming back - no evidence of widespread impacts." 

The report concludes that there are no measurable impacts on residential property values due to the three characterizations studied:

  • Area Stigma: A concern that the general area surrounding a wind energy facility will appear more developed, which may adversely affect home values in the local community regardless of whether any individual home has a view of the wind turbines.
  • Scenic Vista Stigma: A concern that a home may be devalued because of the view of a wind energy facility, and the potential impact of that view on an otherwise scenic vista.
  • Nuisance Stigma: A concern that factors that may occur in close proximity to wind turbines, such as sound and shadow flicker, will have a unique adverse influence on home values.

The team of researchers for the project collected data on almost 7,500 sales of single-family homes situated within 10 miles of 24 existing wind facilities in nine different U.S. states, and that occurred between 1996 and 2007; the closest home was 800 feet from a wind facility. The conclusions of the study are drawn from eight different hedonic pricing models, as well as both repeat sales and sales volume models.  The hedonic pricing model is one of the most prominent and reliable methods for identifying the marginal impacts of different housing and community characteristics on residential property values.

The final report can be downloaded:
http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/re-pubs.html
    
A presentation summarizing key findings is available:
http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/emp-ppt.html

"Wind Energy Guide for County Commissioners" from NACO

This guide from the National Association of Counties was released in November, 2006. According to the NACO website, "this publication is designed to provide county commissioners, planners,
and other local county government officials with a practical overview
of information required to successfully implement commercial wind
energy projects in their county."

Click here to download the guide from the NACO website.

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.

Pages

Subscribe to Project Development/Planning