Wind Impacted by Conflicting Zoning Codes

Alissa Doerr, Center for Rural Affairs Legal Extern, examines the impact of uncoordinated zoning practices for wind energy in the American Midwest for her Zoned Out report.

The states included in the report are Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. It also broke down the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches, and what makes for effective zoning standards.
 
“Wind energy zoning remains generally uncoordinated and subject to state and local regulations, resulting in a piecemeal approach where zoning standards vary between states and within states,” Doerr said.
 
According to Doerr, an effective approach to wind energy zoning has to be implemented in order to reduce the inconsistency and unpredictability resulting from the lack of coordination between communities and governments in the Midwest. She asserts that the problem can be solved by finding the right balance between local and state control.
 
A sense of uncertainty accompanies the growth of wind energy in rural economies across the Midwest. Communities are worried about how the broad implementation of alternative energy will affect their economies and infrastructure. There is even more uncertainty regarding the laws which dictate wind energy development. Doerr believes that the zoning authorities should aim for efficient, effective standards which take into consideration the necessities of areas slated ffor wind energy development.
 
Doerr explained further that, the key to effective wind siting and zoning regulation is to strike the right balance between local and state control, avoiding some of the pitfalls for either approach, while trying to capture the benefits. Authorities at the state and local level must consider the pros and cons that can result from difference ordinances. The ideal balance should be focused on consistent standards that still allow for local autonomy.
 
In her concluding stipulation, Doerr states that “As wind power continues to play a bigger role in meeting our energy demands, it’s important that we craft regulations that incorporate local preferences and address local concerns, while also providing clear and consistent standards for developers.”
 
Click here to read and download the full report.
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