Enactment of a wind energy conversion system ordinance will not be done in haste by the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners. The five-person board, as witnessed by input during an open forum on Tuesday, Dec. 14, will take its time before a final vote.
“We’re not out to control large winds farms, only smaller ones,” said Commissioner Lee Rogness. “The purpose of the ordinance is to provide minimum standards and regulations for wind energy.”
Otter Tail County, through the ordinance, would retain regulating the installation and operation of wind energy systems not otherwise subject to oversight by the state of Minnesota. The state usually regulates wind systems of five megawatts or larger.
To that end, after enactment, the county Land and Resource Office will be responsible for administration and enforcement of the ordinance. Setbacks and safety design standards are part of a proposed draft.
“We looked into several wind ordinances and took note of recommendations from planning and zoning administrators throughout Minnesota,” said Bill Kalar, the county’s Land and Resource director. “Closer to home, we’ve looked at what Grand County (Elbow Lake area) has in the way of modifications to wind energy oversight.”
Commissioner Doug Huebsch said the county board, as suggestions come in regarding wind energy regulations, will keep in mind land use and land rights.
Farmers in the Parkers Prairie area, represented at the Dec. 14 open meeting at the County Government Services board room in Fergus Falls, are opposed to wind turbine installations in productive agricultural areas, such as the corners of irrigated fields. Proper clearances were concerns of others who spoke to county commissioners last week. Noise levels also were addressed.
David Lindig, who operates a farm south of Fergus Falls near Orwell Dam, said that he’s an advocate of smaller wind energy units. He said there needs to be a balance between proper regulations while at the same time not making those regulations too difficult for potential installers of wind units.
Copies of the ordinance can been seen on the county web site.
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