Permitting and siting: Key for wind farm development 

The wind industry is carefully regulated, and wind energy developers must secure proper permits from all levels of government, local through federal. Prior to building a project in any state, a developer should determine the applicable regulatory structure and understand the allocation of responsibility among federal, state, and local government agencies. Early in project development, it is important to conduct a detailed analysis of the potential permits, approvals, and consultations that might apply.

Federal permitting:

Several federal policies provide directives and guidance to federal agencies and developers of wind projects.

  • DOD Siting Clearinghouse
  • Wildlife
    • Endangered Species Act (ESA)
    • Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)
    • Eagle Protection Act
  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

State permitting:

The process for siting a wind energy project varies widely from state to state. Some states have vested primary siting authority in a state agency, while others have left this authority to local governments to handle through their land use and zoning ordinances.

In some states, the legislature has given a single agency primary jurisdiction for siting decisions on wind energy projects. In these states, a dedicated agency oversees all issues relating to the siting of new wind projects, allowing other state agencies to participate as interested parties. Examples of these types of agencies include public utilities commissions, state siting boards, or environmental agencies.

A good resource for state legislative approaches to wind siting can be found here.

Local permitting:

Wind ordinances: Ordinances adopted by counties or towns regulate certain aspects of wind projects, like location, the permitting process, and construction. Ordinances also provide clarity to wind developers and the public. They allow local governments to identify conditions and priorities for many types of development, including wind energy.

A good resource for local wind ordinances can be found here.

Key development and siting issues include: