County Wind Ordinance Standards

Program County Wind Ordinance Standards
Category Regulatory Policy
Implementing sector State
Last Update
State California
Sectors Residential

Assembly Bill 45 of 2009 authorized counties to adopt ordinances to provide for the installation of small wind systems (50 kW or smaller) outside urbanized areas but within the county's jurisdiction. The bill also addressed specific aspects of a typical wind ordinance and established the limiting factors by which a county's wind ordinance can be no more restrictive. Counties may freely make more lenient ordinances, but AB 45 was designed to establish maximum restrictions a county may impose if they choose to develop a small wind ordinance. These provisions apply only to county ordinances developed after January 1, 2011. Maximum restrictions in the following categories are specifically included in the bill:

  • Tower height
  • Acreage of land parcel
  • Setbacks
  • Public notice
  • Noise level
  • Visual effects
  • Type of turbine used
  • Tower drawings and line drawings
  • Engineering analysis

These standards remain in effect until January 1, 2017. By January 1, 2016 the California Energy Commission (CEC) is required to prepare a report for various committees of the General Assembly detailing the number of local wind ordinances adopted after January 1, 2011; the number of applications to install wind turbines that were received and approved by those counties; and the tower heights, parcel sizes and the generating capacities of the wind turbines. The committees will consider these facts and any recommendations offered by the CEC to determine if these ordinance guidelines should be continued, modified or terminated.

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