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More than 1,000 ways to build a wind turbine in NY

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Curt Smith
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Trying to navigate local ordinances can be like getting caught in a web.

How wind turbines are constructed isn’t up to the state or the federal government. It’s actually up to the various local governments to enact local ordinances. If you combine all the cities, towns, and villages in New York, you have more than 1,400 entities. That means there could be more than 1,400 different sets of rules to regulate wind.

For energy companies, it could be like getting tangled in a web when they want to build a wind farm. Does a town have height restrictions? Are there setback restrictions? Do wind farms pay property taxes or enter into PILOT agreements?

(To learn more about how the local governments regulate safety, listen to the Innovation Trail podcast, episode one.)

According to the Utica Observer-Dispatch, trying to layout ground rules for this new industry in the Litchfield community led to arguing at a recent town hall meeting,

A wind company official was booed when he attempted to speak. One woman stormed out of the meeting after a family member asked her why she supports the project. And multiple residents called for the resignation of town Supervisor Wayne Casler, saying he stands to benefit as an employee of nearby Barrett Paving Materials that could be granted contracts if the project is approved.

West of Binghamton, Vestal is trying to write rules to curb saturation with wind projects. Other communities have passed moratoriums on wind power to make time to learn more about the issue before turbines go up.

Innovation Trail alumnus Ryan Morden is originally from Seattle. He graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's in journalism, minoring in political science and Scandinavian studies. Morden was Morning Edition producer and reporter at WRVO before moving over to the Innovation Trail project. Before landing at WRVO, Morden covered the Washington State legislature as a correspondent for Northwest News Network (N3), a group of nine NPR affiliates in the northwest.
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