May 18, 2008

Board OKs wind devices

JOLIET – The Will County Board has approved rules for devices that convert the power of wind into electrical energy.

Residents in unincorporated Will County have expressed interest in using these devices on their property to reduce energy costs, according to the resolution that the board passed Thursday.

The new ordinance allows small wind devices in some residential areas, with a minimum lot size, and keeps neighbors’ well-being in mind, said Jim Bilotta, R-Lockport, chairman of the county board’s land use committee.

“It’s a great start,” Bilotta said of the ordinance. “It protects the residents and the neighbors.”

Wind and energy

The ordinance addresses three types of devices, according to a memo from Brian Radner, senior planner for the county land use department. Those devices are:

• Rooftop mounted electric-generating wind devices: These are attached to a structure and are limited to 15 feet in height above the structure, Radner said in his memo.

Each device has a rated nameplate capacity of 5 kilowatts or less, he said.

• Small wind energy systems: These systems come in a variety of tower heights, and some can be over 100 feet in height, Radner said.

Each device has a rated nameplate capacity of 100 kilowatts or less, according to Radner’s memo.

“The primary function of a small wind energy system is to produce electricity for use on site,” the memo said.

• Wind farm facilities: These are typically located on a large number of acres, whether leased or owned, Radner said. Their sole purpose is to produce electricity for sale to a utility or for use off-site, the memo said.

Wind farm facility towers can be as tall as 500 feet, Radner said.

The memo cited U.S. government data which indicated that Illinois was producing 733 megawatts of wind energy by the end of 2007.

County ordinance

The minimum lot size for a commercial wind farm in Will County jurisdiction is 1,000 acres, Bilotta said.

Regarding small wind energy systems, the ordinance lists several eligible zoning districts, but the minimum lot size is 5 acres.

Regarding rooftop-mounted devices, the smallest piece of property on which these devices will be allowed is land under R-2 residential zoning, with a minimum lot size of 1 acre, Bilotta said.

The ordinance allows the rooftop-mounted devices and small wind energy systems as a permitted accessory use. A county permit would be required.

For a wind farm facility, the ordinance requires a special use permit, Radner said.

“The county board recognizes that the proliferation of the use of wind farm facilities and electric-generating wind devices throughout the county could have a detrimental effect on community character, well-being, health and the enjoyable use of property if this land use remains unregulated,” the resolution states.

“This is really months of work put together, and I think we have a good ordinance here,” Bilotta said Thursday.

By Tony Graf

The Herald News

18 May 2008

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