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New wind turbine rules must be more specific

The latest draft on wind turbines (as distributed at the Sept. 18 meeting) by the Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission staff reflects an impressive continuation of the strife for succinct, but yet sufficient rules.

Most importantly, there is now a fundamental limitation on industrial wind turbines in excess of 300 feet in height: "a disproportionate impact" on other property owners will not be allowed. But for large turbines, this new rule and the rest of the proposal need to be a little more specific for reliable protection when it comes to noise level control, visual impact, and certain economics.

(1) There should be a maximum noise limit (ideally not more than 35 decibels) at the property line. (Abandon the subdivision approach with its focus on roadways, water, sewage and drainage and return to placing these rules into the zoning dode, where we generally would look for rules on structures on properties).

The proposed "separation distances" prescribe minimal to potentially affected buildings, etc. This leaves without protection any future use closer to the turbines. The preferable solution would be to key off an allowable noise level at the wind farm's property... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The latest draft on wind turbines (as distributed at the Sept. 18 meeting) by the Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission staff reflects an impressive continuation of the strife for succinct, but yet sufficient rules.

Most importantly, there is now a fundamental limitation on industrial wind turbines in excess of 300 feet in height: "a disproportionate impact" on other property owners will not be allowed. But for large turbines, this new rule and the rest of the proposal need to be a little more specific for reliable protection when it comes to noise level control, visual impact, and certain economics.

(1) There should be a maximum noise limit (ideally not more than 35 decibels) at the property line. (Abandon the subdivision approach with its focus on roadways, water, sewage and drainage and return to placing these rules into the zoning dode, where we generally would look for rules on structures on properties).

The proposed "separation distances" prescribe minimal to potentially affected buildings, etc. This leaves without protection any future use closer to the turbines. The preferable solution would be to key off an allowable noise level at the wind farm's property line.

(2) We need rules on visual impact protection, after hearings with input from the public, depending on the aesthetics and view sheds in the particular countryside.

(3) An assessment of the economics would take into account the quality of the wind energy in the proposed locations; realistic risks to adjoining property value diminutions; connectivity with the existing power grid and expected usability of the intermittent power source; viability of project without production tax credits (close to $1.5 million for the a large turbines); and, considerably greater than proposed liability (bonded) for construction and operations damage as well as reclamation cost.

As is well known, the fast track exception from a full Maryland Public Service Commission review for projects of not more than 70 megawatt (by no means small, claimed to be enough for 60,000 homes), calls for a local review procedure.

Moreover, wouldn't it be strange having to apply for traditional, often minimal special exception uses and variances while these multi-million dollar structures could be placed into the country side without local review and input?


Source: http://www.times-news.com/o...

OCT 9 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/17428-new-wind-turbine-rules-must-be-more-specific
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