I was asked to speak as a NY town board meeting this week. They were quite interested in how to best protect their community from the threat of a proposed wind project. This is a condensed version of what I said…
Since an industrial wind project is something you may have to live with for 20± years, it seems wise to carefully, objectively, and thoroughly investigate this matter, ahead of time…
After working with 100± communities throughout the US, my conclusion is that your absolute best and first line of defense, is a well-written, protective set of wind energy regulations.
The focus of these regulations should be to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community.
These regulations can be in a stand-alone law, or part of a more comprehensive zoning document. (Where they appear is significantly less important than their content.)
Note that writing these regulations is not about excluding wind energy development — but rather it’s about protecting the citizens, small businesses, the economy, the military, and the ecosystems of your community.
So, how do you go about creating proper wind energy regulations? Well, you have two very different choices…
1 – Option One is to figure out what needs to be done, on your own.
Since this is an extremely complex technical matter (with wide-spread ramifications), you’ll need to find the following local people: physicist, electrical engineer, civil engineer, acoustical engineer, physician, financial PhD, hydro-geologist, ecologist, bat expert, ornithologist, EMF expert, real estate appraiser, and last but not least, a technically competent lawyer. That would be your team.
In addition, each of those local people need:
a) to have an interest in this matter,
b) to be supportive of citizen rights, and
c) to have the time available to assist the community.
After you’ve collected these experts (that meet those three qualifications), make sure to also allow for at least a year to do research, to have multiple meetings, etc., etc.
The fundamental question is: do you have all those resources in your community, and the time?
If you are missing any of those experts (or don’t have the time), the wind regulations that result will likely leave you not properly protected, and very vulnerable to a wind project getting built…
2 – Option Two is to stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before you.
Many are not be aware of it, but some 250 communities in the US have had to deal with industrial wind energy. Every case is different, but a few were fortunate enough to have the necessary cross-section of experts living nearby. Some were proactive, so they had the luxury and time to do more research. Etc.
In any case, in every one of the 250± other communities, there are lessons to be learned — both what to do, and what not to do. One of my beliefs is that it rarely makes sense to reinvent the wheel — and particularly not in a complex technical matter like industrial wind energy.
That’s the point of my free citizen advocacy service, and my website (WiseEnergy.org), and my monthly Newsletter (which now has some 10,000 readers). All of these are intended to sort out, and then pass on to you, the best ideas out there.
When all is said and done, it’s your community — so it’s your call how to deal with any proposed wind project.
We’ve simply tried to make it easier to be successful in dealing with this extraordinary challenge — by giving you the Science perspective, and by sharing with you some of the wind energy experiences of numerous other communities.
Let me know any questions you have, or suggestions to improve our services by leaving a comment below.