New siting guidelines for small wind systems

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A growing interest in small wind systems has prompted the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) to develop "best practice" siting guidelines and a model municipal zoning bylaw for installations of less than 300 kW in size. Net metering policies are becoming more common in Canada and the technology more accessible, says CanWEA's policy director, Sean Whittaker. Under net metering rules, owners of small generation facilities can offset their electricity consumption with their own power production. "There is a real recognition across the industry that small wind is on the threshold of an expansion that could potentially be as significant as the expansion the large wind industry is now enjoying," says Whittaker. CanWEA wants to make sure that both consumers and local governments are prepared. The guidelines look at issues like setbacks, tower heights, public safety and consultation with neighbours. "Siting a turbine is not like installing a fence," Whittaker says. "It requires particular knowledge to make sure it is in the right place. And that is not only knowledge in terms of where to put it to get the best output, but also where to put it so that it doesn't bother other people." A study commissioned by CanWEA found that there is also "a bit of a vacuum" in Canada when it comes to regulations governing small wind installations. Right now, only a handful of Canadian municipalities have small wind provisions in their zoning bylaws, with inconsistent and often unduly restrictive siting requirements.

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