The Tehama County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved the final draft of an ordinance regulating wind and solar energy systems in the unincorporated areas of the county.
The ordinance was approved by the Planning Commission and open to public comment for 60 days, including a public hearing that was re-opened at Tuesday’s meeting prior to the 4-0 vote. Supervisor Steve Chamblin was absent.
The ordinance was five to six years in the making and aside from a comment received by George Robson there were no other public comments, Planning Director Sean Moore said.
In an email to Moore, Robson listed his concerns that wind power generators were restricted from parcels less than 10 acres, the required 1,000-foot set back actually limited the generators to parcels 92 acres and larger and that towers were not to cast a shadow onto off-site structures.
Robson also questioned whether or not the wind not blowing would be reason for the county to declare a windmill abandoned. A part of the ordinance reads that a wind energy system not in use for six months consecutively could be considered abandoned and the planning director could require a security during the permit process that would pay for the system to be removed should it be abandoned.
Resident Tom Moller disagreed that there had been no further public comment and said he had given Moore at least three articles regarding the subject.
There was no specific plan for large wind mill operations.
“They’re ugly, they don’t do anything for the view, solar makes utilities higher and they kill about 30 million birds a year,” Moller said. “Those are all good reasons not to have them in Tehama County. There ought to be a moratorium on the large windmills.”
Supervisor Candy Carlson agreed with Moller, stating she would like to see a ban on large scale operations that can become an “awful eyesore.”
The ordinance does cover aesthetics in the checklist for approval and is in line with the county’s general plan, Moore said. It is also a way to help with the climate action reduction requirements the county faces.
“Right now we have had nothing and this will give us guidelines,” Moore said. “It gives guidelines for the Williamson Act lands, set back, aesthetic, location and zone requirements.”
A portion of the ordinance dictates location and says wind systems should be in the rear yard portion of a lot where permitted unless approved by the Planning Director or Planning Commission. It also specifies that one small wind energy system, no more than 80 feet tall, per parcel for wind towers. The number and height for all wind power facilities will be determined at the time of the use permit.
While a small wind energy system is allowed on Williamson Act land, a wind power facility and dual purpose wind energy system is prohibited. A small solar energy system is allowed whereas a larger facility is not allowed unless the project qualifies for solar use easement.
For solar panels, height and set back from property lines will be determined by zone and attachment to existing buildings and towers will have to comply with the height previously set for that district. Solar also had a portion stating that after six months of non-use a system would be considered abandoned and could be considered a public nuisance to be removed.
The full wording of the ordinance is available at www.co.tehama.ca.us. It goes into effect 30 days from the ordinance adoption.