Commercial wind turbines are installed on tall towers and proper lighting is required for the safety of any nearby aviation facilities. There are also concerns with the impacts different lighting mechanisms may have on local communities and wildlife. All wind projects must comply with any applicable Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements regarding appropriate lighting, and many county permitting regulations refer to or incorporate those requirements.
Permitting regulations in this category refer to the maximum total height of a wind turbine allowed. Current wind turbine designs are the result of many years of research and development in establishing the ideal height of the tower and blade lengths in order to most efficiently capture the wind resource. Counties may chose to regulate in this category for a variety of reasons, including public safety or aesthetics.
These permitting regulations address the feeder lines and communications lines used to connect the wind turbines to the other project infrastructure, in order to minimize the visual impact from these components. Currently, the common industry practice currently is to bury these electric lines; however there may be certain geological conditions that make burying these lines impractical.
Decommissioning as a permitting regulation refers to the process for removing a wind energy conversion system once the project has reached its end. There are a variety of methods used to regulate this area of wind development, from requiring a bond or financial guarantee before a permit is issued to simply requiring a written plan for removing the turbine and associated components.
These permitting regulations refer to the minimum distance the tips of the blade must be above the ground or other nearby obstacles. This ensures both safety for structures and beings near operating turbines, as well as promoting the most efficient use of the wind resource.
Permitting requirements for safety equipment generally refer to the presence of braking systems in the event that the rotor spins too fast in high wind or to help prevent a catastrophic failure. Most modern turbines today include, in the technology design, both automatic and manual braking options to slow or stop the rotor all together.
These permitting regulations are designed to reduce the visual impact of a wind turbine, as well as minimize the impact on wildlife, especially birds. The most common requirements are for a white or grey color, and non-reflective finishes to minimize glare.
This permitting regulation category refers to the standards that apply to the service roads or construction roads of a wind project. Construction equipment for large, commercial-scale wind turbines can exceed the allowable weight and size for some rural roads and therefore counties may impose certain requirements in this category.
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.
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."