Sweetwater County adopts new wind farm rules

August 10, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

GREEN RIVER, Wyo. (AP) — Sweetwater County has adopted new rules that govern where and how wind farms may be built and how the public can get involved in decisions involving them.

The County Commission approved the new rules Tuesday and they took effect immediately.

The 43 pages of new rules regulate low-frequency noise from wind turbines. The rules also cover bonding for wind turbines and specify how far apart wind turbines should be located.

Some of the county’s previous rules for wind farms conflicted with new state standards for wind farm construction, the Casper Star-Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/13oQkyv ).

“Our old regulations weren’t really that good,” Commissioner John Kolb said. “It wasn’t that they didn’t have good intentions. When you write something in regulation it needs to be done in a proper way. Sometimes you inevitably negate something in a regulation you wrote.”

The new rules require wind energy developers to model each project to enable the public to see what it would look like from at least 25 vantage points, Kolb said.

The new rules also require companies to post bond that would pay for removing turbines and restoring the landscape if a wind project is ever abandoned.

In addition, the rules address low-frequency noise from wind turbines.

“It’s typically a steady sound pressure wave,” Kolb said. “You feel it more than you hear it.”

Sweetwater County temporarily halted wind farm applications pending the update to its rules. The wind farm moratorium began in February 2012.

The county has no pending applications for wind farms now, although two developers are working with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on wind farm proposals, Kolb said.

One project is on hold because of lack of power lines and a slowdown in the wind energy market, BLM spokeswoman Serena Baker said.

Progress on the other project has slowed but its developers still hope to begin construction in conjunction with a major power line project through the area in 2016, Baker said.

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Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com

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