CLEAR LAKE – Pending a referral period that stretches throughout the first 20 days of June, updated wind tower ordinances within Deuel County are set to be adopted.
In a pair of meetings held earlier this month, including a second reading held on May 23, the Deuel County Commission adopted wind tower ordinances that brought a conclusion to a contentious chapter between participating and non-participating county landowners and residents as well as wind energy developers.
According to Commission Chair Gary Jaeger, the updated ordinances break down into several main points including tower setback distances from non-participating landowners and communities and limits on decibels and annual flicker effects. The adopted ordinances were first proposed as changes near the end of a previous meeting on April 25, which required another round of public notices before a first reading could be conducted.
Under the updated ordinances, setback distances from non-participating landowners must be a minimum of four times the height of the tower. With some wind towers stretching as high as nearly 500 feet, setbacks distances could be as far as approximately 2,000 feet from non-participants. Setback distances between participating landowners are to be at 1,500 feet.
In addition to the non-participating landowner setbacks, the commission also adopted setbacks in relation to Deuel County’s communities. According to Jaeger, wind towers will be subjected to a 1.5-mile setback from Clear Lake, Toronto and Gary. Altamont, Brandt, Goodwin will see wind towers set back at least one mile.
Meanwhile, lake residents would also see minimum wind tower setbacks. According to Jaeger, wind towers must be set back at least one mile from Bullhead Lake and two miles from Lake Alice. Lake Cochrane residents will see a separation of three miles from wind towers.
Wind towers will also be subjected to maximum decibel levels of 45 to non-participants and 50 for participants.
Wind towers will also be required not to exceed 30 hours of flicker effects annually. Flicker effects occur when the Sun’s glare bounces off a wind turbine, casting an intermittent shadow.
In addition, Jaeger said the commission also adopted a provision requiring that wind energy developers post a bond in the event a tower is decommissioned before the terms of the agreement with a participating landowner are up.
According to Jaeger, that bond will provide a level of financial assurance to participating landowners even in the event of an early termination.
With the second reading now conducted, Jaeger said there will be a period beginning June 1 where county residents can refer the updated ordinances to a vote. The June 1 date will coincide with a public notice publication in the county’s official newspaper, Clear Lake Courier. Any referral must be submitted to the county government by June 20.
While the county waits on a final resolution to an issue that stoked the passions of many residents, Jaeger sensed through the latest round of public testimonies that there was a general feeling among residents to have some sort of ordinance in place after many months of discussion.
“When you’ve taken all that research and worked at it for that long, it’s time to move forward,” Jaeger said. “Now the process has moved into the hands of the people.”
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