Report: Local regulations for wind energy projects can protect interests of rural landowners

Wind turbines in northern Iowa. (Brooke Raymond/Flickr)
Wind turbines in northern Iowa. (Brooke Raymond/Flickr)
Nick Fetty | June 9, 2016

Local regulations could be key to protecting the interests of landowners and communities when pursuing wind energy projects, according to a recent report.

Respect and Restore: Reassessing Local Wind Energy Standards was published last month by the Nebraska-based Center for Rural Affairs. The report’s authors outline the impacts that heavy construction vehicles and other equipment associated with wind energy projects can have on land and infrastructure not designed for such loads. The report also discusses various county and municipal ordinances that affect the construction and decommissioning of wind energy projects.

The report’s authors recommend that county and other local governments enact ordinances that better protect rural lands and roads, particularly during the construction of wind projects. The authors conclude:

“As wind development continues to grow, it is essential that developers and local officials work to tackle the concerns and issues experienced by community stakeholders. Continuing to develop renewable resources provides tangible benefits to rural communities across the nation. But to ensure that these benefits are not realized at the expense of landowners and community members, wind energy projects must be developed in a way that addresses the challenges presented by the construction process.”

The Center for Rural Affairs published a similar report last year which outlined zoning, methods for regulation of wind energy development, and state and local control of regulations on wind projects in Iowa and other Midwestern states.

Iowa was the first state in the country to produce more than 30 percent of its electricity from wind and currently leads in the nation in percentage of energy production from wind power.

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