White paper examines commonalities, differences in wind energy

Small Towns

Lu Nelsen, policy associate, lucasn@cfra.org,  402.687.2100 ext. 1022; Teresa Hoffman, policy communications associate, teresah@cfra.org, 402.687.2100 ext. 1012; Rhea Landholm, brand marketing and communications manager, rheal@cfra.org, 402.687.2100 ext 1025

LYONS, NEBRASKA – The wind energy industry remains one of the fastest growing in the U.S. It has not only increased capacity, but provided consumers and utilities with clean energy and created additional economic benefits, according to a white paper released today by the Center for Rural Affairs.

“Review of Wind Energy Setbacks: Commonalities and Differences Among Three States,” authored by Lu Nelsen, with assistance from Lauren Taylor, examines how communities in Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota address zoning setbacks for projects.

“Zoning plays an important role in setting clear standards for developers and protecting the interests of local residents,” Nelsen said. “But, standards should be carefully tailored so they do not restrict development and the resulting economic benefits.”

Setbacks for turbines and projects are one of the most common pieces of a wind energy ordinance. Nelsen said standards should meet a county’s needs, rather than a one size fits all approach.

“Many counties employ some kind of wind energy setback, ranging from a set or fixed distance from the turbine to variable distances based on the height of a turbine,” he said. “No matter the approach a county may use to zoning, they should identify a balance between addressing the concerns of local community members while allowing for development.”

The white paper analyzed trends in setbacks and zoning ordinances for 258 counties in Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota; and while it found that setbacks varied between counties and states, there are similar themes in the way they are applied.

One key difference that emerged was the presence of setbacks in relation to wetlands or wildlife management areas, with Nebraska counties featuring significantly more ordinances than Iowa and South Dakota counties.

Click here to  read the full white paper, “Review of Wind Energy Setbacks: Commonalities and Differences Among Three States.”