Model Ordinance for Wind Energy Facilities in PA
They are intended for use as general templates for municipalities to review and adapt to their own particular needs. Please keep in mind that these sample model ordinances are merely models, and should be used only as a guide in developing or amending your own ordinances as they pertain to wind energy facilities. No assurances are made regarding the enforceability of any ordinance. Each municipality should confer with its own solicitor regarding such matters.
On the page where the document is available, it also states:
Note: This model ordinance was designed to provide guidance to local governments that wish to develop their own siting rules for wind turbines. While it was developed as part of a cooperative effort involving several state agencies, the model itself has no legal or regulatory authority.
Who wrote this model?
Since North East seems ready to adopt this model as their own, we might want to see who these agencies and groups were that wrote it in the first place. Who do they represent? What is their position regarding wind energy?
The work group consisted of:
the Governor’s Office, DEP, DCNR, PA State Association of Township Supervisors, County Commissioners Association, Wind Energy Associations and Penn Future with the assistance of DCED
Taken one at a time:
- Governor’s office – (Ed Rendell in 2006) the umbrella under which the group was organized
- DEP – Department of Environmental Protection – advocates for wind energy
- DCNR – Department of Conservation and Natural Resources – advocates for wind energy
- PA State Association of Township Supervisors – one of the groups for which the model was written
- County Commissioners Association – one of the groups for which the model was written
- Wind Energy Associations – any wind energy groups, including industry groups, advocating for wind energy
- Penn Future – a very politically active environmental group advocating for wind energy as one of its primary missions
A few examples of errors and omissions
- Height restrictions – there isn’t a single word mentioning height. What if today’s giant 500 foot tall turbines are superseded by some future, super giant 1000 foot model? It might sound crazy, but there’s nothing in the ordinance to stop them from building one.
- Hours of construction – heavy equipment running 24 hours a day? Nothing in the ordinance about it.
- Hours of road use – tie up roads with material and equipment delivery when people are driving to or returning from work? Block highway entrance and exit ramps? Block roads while raising power lines? Oversize and super loads move very slowly. No mention.
- Noise – Audible noise no more than 55 dBA at the exterior of any occupied building on a non participating property. Louder anywhere else? Louder inside the house? Louder inside an outbuilding? Louder on some days due to weather conditions? Vibrations you can feel but not hear? Well, it was quiet when we were there. You must be exaggerating and vibrations aren’t mentioned.
- Removal during decommissioning – everything must be removed to a depth of 36 inches. So, that 50 foot diameter, 400 ton, steel reinforced concrete base will be just 36 inches below the surface. It doesn’t look like that portion of the farm will be returned to farming.
- Signal disruption – Interfere with radio, TV, telephone and Doppler radar signals? Well, they must make “reasonable efforts” to avoid doing that and mitigate any harm if they do. Problems with your Dish or Direct TV or cell phone? Hey, they tried to make it better. Sorry.
- Inquiries and complaints – they must supply a number to call and they must “make reasonable efforts” to respond to complaints. Really, seriously, they tried, you were just unreasonable.
It protects the wind developers – not you
There’s more, but you get the idea. This isn’t written to protect you, the North East township resident, it was written to protect the wind developers. Why are we using it?
Instead of starting with a document written in the interest of wind energy developers and proponents, making it easy to build turbines in a location unsuitable for these massive structures, why not engage the services of legal counsel experienced in protecting communities from the effects of wind turbines and write an ordinance any developer has to meet if he wants to install any turbines, whatsoever? If they can’t meet the North East community’s requirements, then no turbines.
N. Swan says
I HIGHLY recommend watching this documentary. It highlights ALL of the concerns that I had learning about the proposed wind turbines in North East. Maybe we could have a public viewing like Gas Land.
N. Swan says
N. Swan says
Yvonne S. says
It’s in the process of happening N. Swan!
Again all I see is your one side of the story, to be fair you need both the good and bad, your video has a man saying blades turn at 150 mph, NOT TRUE all people in the video are one sided
You need to have both good and bad , then let the people make there own choice .
Make sure your town has a good ordinance, With the right set backs, that are fair to all.
I have set up groups to go on trips to talk to people in a wind farm project area , we talked
to people that lived in the village, the landowners that signed leases, the ones that did not,
the board members and so on , did not talked to the developer , got the good and bad
then went back and talked as a group
. We worked with our town to come up with zoning that’s good for all , not just one sided
The people that live in the village, people that don.’t want to sign need to understand
they do not have all the say, the landowners that live in a project area that do pay large tax
bills have rights to.
You will always have people that are for something, or against it.
Every project that I have looked at you had the people that didn’t live in the area trying to
tell the one that did what to do. (Westfield Ny. the people in the village had signs, (good idea bad location) How is it fair that they can tell a farmer or large landowner what right for there land ????
THE RIGHT ZONING TO BE FAIR TO ALL,
1000′-1200′ FEET FROM HOMES , 500 -600′ FROM ROADS AND PROPERTY LINES OF NON LEASE, Non leases within a area of the project should get a payment
Also instead of use of a 1.5mw turbine let them use a large one 2.5mw,
which in turn will be less turbines for a project. Keep the project under 100mw,
or so, Your right we are not out west were you can put them every were .
But you can make it work.
Teresa Sculley says
Merle, you are right about one thing. I shouldn’t tell my neighbor what to do with their farm, land or home. In the same respect my neighbor shouldn’t tell me that I should tolerate numerous 500′ noisy stationary dinosaur in their backyard. I can put up a fence to block out a neighbor’s purple house or ugly water feature but even my fence can only be so high. My neighbor must put up a fence around an in ground pool for safety and liability. My neighbor has to post a permit of changes to put up a structure or addition that might block the view from my yard or home. The township zoning office has neighbor notification forms to get approval for changes. I was at a meeting where a change in zoning was requested. The neighbors in this rezoning area were to be notified of the changes so that they would understand the impact of the changes. I live within .03 miles of this turbine area and I never received notification from my township or my neighbor! Why? If it is such a good idea to have 500′ wind turbines in the neighborhood, why not tell the neighbors? Why keep it a secret?
Tammy C Truitt says
The proper zoning is key. In order to protect citizens from the blade throws, ice throws, shadow flicker and low frequency noise, a mile setback from non-hosting residents and at least 2,000 feet from roadways is needed. In Europe, the standard setback is 1 km or more. In California, there are areas that have a 3/4 mile setback.
The only reason setbacks of less than 2,000′ are being proposed is because these projects will not fit with less. State and Federal officials refuse to get their hands dirty so they leave it up to local officials who are blinded by the economic promises of Big Wind.
Abby L. says
Merle — You’ve suggested twice that this website should post the good and the bad. I suggest that if there were anything good to say about turbines, somebody would say it. Why can’t I find a “we love turbines” website? I think it’s because there is nothing good to say about them. — Abby L.
Maybe there happy with what they have so they don’t have to post anything.
Pa. is one of the leading states to have wind power, and your gov. see it as a
plus along side the other thing your great state has to offer. Nat. gas,oil solar
and so on. Go to a wind farm and talk to the people.
Tom Wasilewski says
Height restrictions indeed are needed in the ordinance–
whoever said future industrial wind turbines may be 1,000 feet in height not 500 feet high was correct. Right now in Denmark they are doing research on wind turbines which are 750 feet high (top of the turbine blade). They say the larger the wind turbine-both the blades and height -the more electricity it will produce. The people of Denmark are finally saying NO to land-based wind turbines. So look for even bigger turbines for North East and the rest of Erie County. Thousand feet high wind turbines are certainly a possibility unless the American taxpayers and electric ratepayers say ENOUGH ALREADY concerning this Wind Turbine Energy Scam.