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Change in ordinance blowing in the wind; Proposal would allow for private energy systems

The Warren County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing this month on proposed supplementary regulations for wind energy systems that have been tossed around by planners at several meetings since October. The supervisors will hold a hearing on May 19 at 7:30 p.m. on changes to Chapter 180 of the zoning ordinance that would add the definition of a turbine and allow private use of wind energy systems.

FRONT ROYAL -- The Warren County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing this month on proposed supplementary regulations for wind energy systems that have been tossed around by planners at several meetings since October.

The supervisors will hold a hearing on May 19 at 7:30 p.m. on changes to Chapter 180 of the zoning ordinance that would add the definition of a turbine and allow private use of wind energy systems.

The revised ordinance would allow, with a conditional-use permit, "wind energy system, commercial power generation" -- defined in the proposed ordinance as "such facilities owned and operated for the specific purpose of generating electricity to put out on the electric grid" -- in the agricultural, commercial and industrial districts.

According to the proposal submitted by Planning Director Taryn Logan, private-use wind energy systems would consist of "a wind turbine, a tower and associated control or conversion electronics, which has a rated capacity of not more than 100 kilowatts and which is intended to primarily reduce on-site consumption of utility power." The sale of excess electricity back onto the electric grid also would be permitted.

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FRONT ROYAL -- The Warren County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing this month on proposed supplementary regulations for wind energy systems that have been tossed around by planners at several meetings since October.

The supervisors will hold a hearing on May 19 at 7:30 p.m. on changes to Chapter 180 of the zoning ordinance that would add the definition of a turbine and allow private use of wind energy systems.

The revised ordinance would allow, with a conditional-use permit, "wind energy system, commercial power generation" -- defined in the proposed ordinance as "such facilities owned and operated for the specific purpose of generating electricity to put out on the electric grid" -- in the agricultural, commercial and industrial districts.

According to the proposal submitted by Planning Director Taryn Logan, private-use wind energy systems would consist of "a wind turbine, a tower and associated control or conversion electronics, which has a rated capacity of not more than 100 kilowatts and which is intended to primarily reduce on-site consumption of utility power." The sale of excess electricity back onto the electric grid also would be permitted.

The Planning Commission voted 3-0 to forward the ordinance to the supervisors after holding its own public hearing last month. Residents who spoke at the hearing were mostly in favor of bringing wind energy resources to the county, but some had concerns about restricting privately used energy system towers to 80 feet. County planners have since raised the height limit to 100 feet.

Towers in the industrial zoning district, meanwhile, would be limited to 120 feet. The same limit also would apply to towers used for commercial power generation. Wind energy laws in Rockbridge County and nearby Clarke County also hold private-use towers to 100 feet, according to data presented by Logan at Tuesday's meeting.

In the city of Suffolk, however, towers can be as high as 120 feet for small systems and 250 feet for larger ones. Turbines placed on taller poles generally have access to more constant winds, and they should be at least 25 feet taller than surrounding trees and structures, according to research from the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute.

Warren County's proposed ordinance also would mandate that noise levels for energy systems not exceed 60 decibels as measured at the closest neighboring dwelling. Those levels, however, could be exceeded during emergencies such as power outages or severe wind storms. Wind energy systems declared unsafe by a building official would also need to be repaired to meet local, state and federal safety standards or removed within six months.

Wind power supplies roughly 48 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in the United States annually, powering the equivalent of more than 4.5 million homes, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The wind energy industry is seeking a national standard of 25 percent renewable electricity by the year 2025.

Also on Tuesday, the supervisors unanimously tabled for further discussion a request to appropriate funds obtained from its easement agreement with the Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Company totaling $33,573 for tar and chipping of cart paths at the Front Royal Golf Club, $14,543 to purchase a sand machine, $3,000 to build a new boat ramp and $9,174 for capital improvements at the golf club.

In February, the supervisors approved an agreement with Trans-Allegheny for the purchase of a few acres along an easement on the golf club's property to make way for a proposed 500-kilovolt power line, a deal which netted the county $609,840.

County Administrator Doug Stanley said the proposed use of the funds would allow the county to be reimbursed for costs associated with the acquisition of the property. It would also allow the county to make improvements to the facility without using direct tax dollars. But, South River District Supervisor Linda P. Glavis and Chairman Archie A. Fox said they had reservations about funding such projects, particularly in light of the weakened economy.


Source: http://www.nvdaily.com/news...

MAY 11 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/20268-change-in-ordinance-blowing-in-the-wind-proposal-would-allow-for-private-energy-systems
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