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County aids wind farmer

Wind is in as an alternative energy source, and Larimer County is making provision for those hoping to harness it. The first step will come on May 12 when the county commissioners consider adopting amendments to the land-use code governing smaller-scale wind generators. Then in August a separate set of amendments is expected to come before the commissioners, applying to electric transmission lines and power plants. Any larger-scale wind farms also would fall under that broad definition.

Wind is in as an alternative energy source, and Larimer County is making provision for those hoping to harness it.

The first step will come on May 12 when the county commissioners consider adopting amendments to the land-use code governing smaller-scale wind generators.

Then in August a separate set of amendments is expected to come before the commissioners, applying to electric transmission lines and power plants. Any larger-scale wind farms also would fall under that broad definition.

The first proposed amendments would set standards for those erecting three or fewer wind generators and for the first time spell out the review process.

Currently wind generators are dealt with in the same context as conventional power plants, according to planner Karin Madson. The code amendments - which the planning commission in April recommended for approval - would make that review process more specific and defined.

Individual "accessory" wind generators that provide power to a single property owner would be a use-by-right on all properties of an acre or more in all zoning districts. The generator could not exceed a height of 40 feet.

A "small wind energy facility" of up to three generators... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Wind is in as an alternative energy source, and Larimer County is making provision for those hoping to harness it.

The first step will come on May 12 when the county commissioners consider adopting amendments to the land-use code governing smaller-scale wind generators.

Then in August a separate set of amendments is expected to come before the commissioners, applying to electric transmission lines and power plants. Any larger-scale wind farms also would fall under that broad definition.

The first proposed amendments would set standards for those erecting three or fewer wind generators and for the first time spell out the review process.

Currently wind generators are dealt with in the same context as conventional power plants, according to planner Karin Madson. The code amendments - which the planning commission in April recommended for approval - would make that review process more specific and defined.

Individual "accessory" wind generators that provide power to a single property owner would be a use-by-right on all properties of an acre or more in all zoning districts. The generator could not exceed a height of 40 feet.

A "small wind energy facility" of up to three generators serving one or more property owners would be permitted through a minor special review on properties of at least an acre zoned as farm, industrial or open. Generator height could not exceed 80 feet.

In both cases the generators must be set back from property lines by at least twice their height.

Madson said the proposed amendments were developed over the past year by an informal "wind group" of those representing affected interests. Further input was offered by county agricultural, environmental and open lands advisory boards. The local effort was supplemented with research into the growing volume of wind-generator standards across the country, she added.

"There are tons of model regulations out there," said Madson. "This is what the cooperative group felt comfortable with."

Originally, she said, the group also intended to develop standards for the larger wind farms, such as the one planned by the Colorado State University Research Foundation on its 17-square-mile Maxwell Ranch property near the Wyoming border. CSURF has not yet submitted an application for the wind farm proposal it announced a year ago.

Principal planner Jill Bennett said the county refocused its work from larger wind farms alone to a state law that gives counties greater control over major public projects.

The so-called 1041 legislation authorizes counties to enact review processes and land-use regulations applying to major public facilities of statewide interest proposed to be built in or pass through the county. Wind farms would fall under that authority, Bennett said, given that county oversight could extend to power plants, electric transmission lines or pipelines.

"What we're trying to do is define what we're identifying as major facilities," she said.

The push to adopt those 1041 powers was in part prompted by the outcry of property owners over the county's lack of power to intervene in Greeley's plan to construct part of a new major water pipeline along the Poudre River in LaPorte. Currently, the county can conduct only a "location and extent" review, which Bennett described as essentially a nonbinding recommendation by the planning commission.

"The 1041 regulation is much stronger," she said, noting that such authority already has been assumed by Boulder and Weld counties.

Bennett said the staff proceeded with 1041 regulations for power plants and electric transmission lines first, at the direction of the commissioners. Later, she said, regulations will be developed relating to pipelines, although those codes cannot be applied retroactively to the Greeley pipeline.

The standards for wind farms will take over where those proposed for the small-scale operations leave off. Bennett said a draft version should be completed early this month.

The county has scheduled a public meeting on 1041 regulations for May 27, 3:30 to 5 p.m., in the Carter Lake Room on the first floor of the Courthouse Offices Building. The county will give a formal presentation at 4 p.m., and there will be time for public comment. Prior to the meeting, information will be available on the county web site, www.larimer.org, under Hot Topics


Source: http://www.northfortynews.c...

MAY 4 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/14780-county-aids-wind-farmer
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