Program Model Wind Ordinance
Category Regulatory Policy
Implementing sector State
Last Update
State North Carolina
Sectors Residential

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.

In July, 2008 the North Carolina Wind Working Group, a coalition of state government, non-profit and wind industry organizations, published a model wind ordinance to provide guidance for communities seeking to promote wind energy. For the purposes of this model, wind-energy systems are classified as "small" if they consist of a single wind turbine with a rated generating capacity of 20 kilowatts (kW) or less, "medium" if they have a total rated capacity of more than 20 kW but not greater than 100 kW and "large" if they have a total rated capacity of more than 100 kW.

Height Requirements: Wind turbine height is the distance measured from grade at the center of the tower to the highest point of the turbine rotor or tip of the turbine blade when it reaches its highest elevation. The setbacks (addressed below) are minimum requirements, designed to protect public safety and mitigate the impacts of noise and shadow flicker. By addressing these concerns through minimum setback requirements, the model wind ordinance omits lot size requirements and height restrictions.

Setbacks: The setback is calculated by multiplying the required setback number by the wind turbine height and measured from the center of the wind turbine base to the property line, building or road. Setbacks are generally determined by the following table:

Wind Energy Facility Type Occupied Buildings on Participating Landowner Property Occupied Buildings on Non-Participating Landowner Property Property Lines on Non-Participating Landowner Property Public Roads
Small System 0.0 1.5 1.1 1.5
Medium System 1.1 2.0 1.5 1.5
Large Scale 1.1 2.5 1.5 1.5

Setbacks may be waived under certain conditions when all affected parties agree to different terms.

Noise Requirements: Noise and shadow flicker issues for small and medium wind energy facilities are addressed by setbacks, or will be addressed by existing noise ordinances. Audible sound from a large wind energy facility should not exceed fifty-five dBA, as measured at any occupied building of a non-participating landowner. Restrictions may be waived under certain conditions.

Installation and Appearance: The installation and design of the wind energy facility should conform to applicable industry standards and meet all local, state and national codes. The wind energy facility should be a non-obtrusive color such as white, off-white or gray, should not be artificially lighted, except to the extent required by the Federal Aviation Administration and should not display advertising or decorative items.

The permit application should contain information about the size, type and location of the wind energy facility; a detailed site plan; proof of compliance with local, state and federal regulations; an environmental assessment; decommissioning plans and any agreements among participating parties.

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