June 19, 2006

Small wind study offers best practices, model zoning bylaw for proper installation

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) has released a report designed to facilitate the installation of small wind turbines across Canada. The Small Wind Siting and Zoning Study provides "best practice" guidelines for retailers, installers and owners, plus a model zoning bylaw to help municipalities ensure the proper installation of turbines under 300 kilowatts (kW) rated capacity in Canadian businesses, farms and homes.

"There is a growing interest in small wind turbines as consumers, utilities and governments realize the substantial benefits of these systems for both personal and commercial use" said CanWEA policy director Sean Whittaker.

"As the Canadian market for small wind turbines grows, consumers are looking for guidance on how to site these turbines in terms of appropriate tower height, property line setbacks, sound output levels and so on," he explained. "At the same time," Whittaker continued, "municipalities are looking for guidance on how they can develop bylaws that encourage the safe and responsible installation of these turbines in their jurisdictions.

"This report will greatly benefit both buyers and municipalities, and pave the way for greater use of small wind in Canada," he concluded.

The study, undertaken by eFormative Options and Entegrity Wind Systems, Inc. found that many local governments are in the process of updating or revising their planning and permitting protocols in light of growing interest in on-site wind power generation. At the same time, however, few Canadian jurisdictions currently have small wind planning and permitting regulatory regimes.

The study team conducted numerous interviews with local planning officials, along with a survey of small wind retailers and installers to develop the "Best Practice" guidelines and model municipal bylaw. The guidelines incorporate the experiences of turbine dealers, installers and prospective owners, and will provide a practical resource for these parties. The recommendations also take into account the current treatment of small wind energy systems in both Canada and the U.S.

CanWEA also says the model Small Wind Turbine Zoning Bylaw will give municipalities a solid starting point for the permitting process relating to these systems. It can save planning staff valuable time and can be adapted and fine-tuned to accommodate both existing regulations and emerging incentive programs across the country. The study also recommends steps CanWEA can take to encourage adoption of the model bylaw.

Over the next months, CanWEA will be bringing the report and its findings to the attention of consumers, installers and municipal planners across Canada. The full report, along with further information on small wind turbines, may be viewed on CanWEA's main Web site, www.canwea.ca, or on the group's dedicated small wind Web site, www.smallwindenergy.ca. More information is also available from Sean Whittaker at CanWEA, 1-800-922-6932, ext 226, E-mail seanwhittaker@canwea.ca.

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