Respect and Restore: Reassessing Local Wind Energy Standards in the U.S.

Amazon Wind Farm Texas
Texas wind farm.
Today the Center for Rural Affairs released a report entitled Respect and Restore: Reassessing Local Wind Energy Standards, that examines issues being overlooked in county and township wind energy ordinances.

“Ordinances often require developers of wind energy projects to limit noise and shadow flicker that impacts local residents as well as establish setback distances from neighboring residences. But they leave out requirements for access roads, post-construction restoration, or ensuring public roads are repaired after a project is complete,” says Lu Nelsen, Center for Rural Affairs Policy Program Associate and author of the report.
“All of these issues are commonly mentioned by stakeholders, but are rarely addressed through local regulation,” Nelsen continued. “In fact, most restoration requirements focus solely on the decommissioning of projects at the end of their life, providing very few guidelines for prior restoration or local infrastructure and adjacent land and property that may be needed.”
According to Nelsen, Respect and Restore describes different typical elements in the construction process of wind farms, and lays out potential problems landowners and communities might face. Additionally the report reviews county regulations for commercial wind energy systems. Finally, the report provides recommendations for future development of wind energy systems.
To view or download a full copy of the report go to:
“Post-construction land restoration is an important issue to many landowners, as they want their land returned to them in good condition,” added Nelsen. “Projects need to maintain access roads and an area around the base of a turbine.”
But additional land is affected by the construction process, and without proper restoration the land will not be as workable for a landowner as it previously was. Similarly, heavy machinery can have a big impact on the condition of local roads, especially in rural areas where roads were not designed to handle heavy traffic.
Nelsen’s report finds that addressing these issues directly in local regulations will provide communities with peace of mind and give developers clear requirements for post-construction restoration. Developers should use local input early in the process to limit the need for restoration by using pre-disturbed areas or existing access roads.
Additionally, Neslen points out that it is important to identify solutions like these to improve the development process. As wind development continues to grow, it is essential that developers and local officials tackle the concerns experienced by people in the community.
“Continuing to develop renewable wind energy brings real benefits to rural communities across the nation. To ensure these benefits aren’t realized at the expense of landowners and community members, wind energy projects must address the challenges presented by the construction process,” concluded Nelsen.
Image credit: By Leaflet (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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