As wind energy continues its growth in the U.S. and South Dakota, municipalities and counties alike are scrambling to enact ordinances to effectively manage development of wind turbines and by extension, wind farms.
Lawrence County has many residents who are interested in what wind energy can do. As a result, county officials instructed county attorney Bruce Outka and Planning and Zoning Director Amber Vogt to draft an ordinance to regulate the installation of wind turbines.
The two spoke at a special meeting with the planning and zoning board Tuesday to hammer out any thoughts or ideas on the subject.
Charles Brown, who has taken wind power to a high level, attended the county meeting. Brown, who lives outside of Whitewood, is erecting a wind turbine of his own, and owns his own wind development company. He offered some advice to the board on how to proceed.
“What you need to do is take into account what South Dakota is doing. They are doing what they can to promote wind energy,” said Brown.
Wind turbines are grouped into four classifications. Class 1, which covers turbines up to 225 kilowatts, Class 2, up to 2 megawatts, and Class 3, non-exporting which means there are two or three turbines that power a complex, like, say, a farm and the outbuildings. Class 4 is the large wind farm with the intention of selling electricity to utilities and others.
Brown told the board that the state of South Dakota has been working on statutes as well and these should be enacted by late 2008 or early 2009.
“This kind of gets complicated. You have three types of generation as well, residential, distributed generation and industrial applications,” said Brown. Residential is obviously for personal use. Distributed generation is just that, power that is distributed to the grid and industrial is for large businesses that generate power for their own use but utilize several turbines.
Board chairman Rick Tysdal mentioned that Vogt had given the board members a copy of ordinances for Sawyer County, Wis.
“We need to take a look at these, because I for one would like to see that the turbines are back from the road, so they don’t disturb the aesthetics of the area,” he said.
Member Bill Coburn was adamant about making this work. “We need to show leadership and fulfill our obligation to provide energy for ourselves. Power is made out in Wyoming, and some think that’s a good place for them. But we need to do our part and make energy that’s clean and efficient,” he said.
He added everyone needs to work together on this. “We don’t need to re-invent the wheel. Let’s go to the city council and work with our county officials,” he said.
Tysdal stated that as for himself, he would like to have a moratorium on any more permits for turbines until the ordinance is worked out. But Vogt told him there is at least one or two permits before the county right now, so maybe they might have to deal with those.
But Tysdal was sure he wants to wait. A compromise of sorts was reached when Vogt stated she and Outka would get right to work and could possibly have something for them on Aug. 14.
By Brandon Bennett
11 July 2008
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