Model Ordinance for Wind Energy Systems (Michigan)

From Open Energy Information

Last modified on February 12, 2015.

Rules Regulations Policies Program

Place Michigan
Name Model Ordinance for Wind Energy Systems
Incentive Type Solar/Wind Permitting Standards
Applicable Sector Agricultural, Commercial, Fed. Government, Industrial, Institutional, Local Government, Nonprofit, Residential, Schools, State Government
Eligible Technologies Wind
Active Incentive No
Incentive Inactive Date 2011-08-24
Implementing Sector State/Territory
Energy Category Renewable Energy Incentive Programs

Date added to DSIRE 2008-09-16
Last DSIRE Review 2011-08-24
Last Substantive Modification
to Summary by DSIRE

References DSIRE[1]


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. The Michigan Energy Office no longer supports specific zoning language, but offers examples of local ordinances from throughout the state.

The Michigan Energy Office issued sample zoning language for wind energy systems in 2008 based on wind energy development guidelines released in 2005. The guidelines are designed to serve as tools for local governments that wish to amend their zoning ordinance to address wind energy systems. The model language developed by the Energy Office assumes that the local government in question already has site plan review requirements written into the existing zoning law.

The guidance recommends separate requirements for small, on-site use oriented systems and large systems designed for commercial power production. The model language includes separate sections for facilities with tower heights of than 20 meters or less and those with larger towers. The ordinance addresses on-site use systems as a use by right which does not require a special use permit. Rules for anemometer towers are included based on the same criteria. Below are brief descriptions of some of the topics addressed by the model language.

Property Setbacks: Setback should be the total height of turbine from property lines for on-site systems and the greater of the total turbine height, the property line setback of the existing law, or the roadway right-of-way setback of the existing law for large scale systems.

Sound Pressure Level: Upper limit of 55 dB(A) at the closest property line or 5 dB(A) above ambient noise level if the ambient noise level is greater than 55 dB(A). The section also contains several exceptions for exceptional circumstances.

Code Compliance: Requires compliance with all applicable codes, including state construction and electrical codes, local building permit requirements, airport regulations, etc.

Safety: Contains requirements related to guyed tower systems, generator braking systems, lightning protection, site security, waste disposal, and warning signs. Blade tip clearance to the ground should be at least 20 feet.

Additional sections in the large wind ordinance address tower lighting, visual appearance, signal interference, shadow flicker, ancillary structures, environmental review requirements, road damage during construction, decommissioning, and complaint resolution. A final section addresses the content of site plan reviews for large wind facilities as part of the special use permit process.

Incentive Contact

Contact Name John Sarver
Department Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth
Division Energy Office
Address 611 W. Ottawa
Address 2 P.O. Box 30221
Place Lansing, Michigan
Zip/Postal Code 48909
Phone (517) 241-6280


Authorities (Please contact the if there are any file problems.)

Authority 1 Sample Zoning Amendments for Wind Energy Systems
Date Enacted 2008

  • Incentive and policy data are reviewed and approved by the N.C. Solar Center's DSIRE project staff.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1  "Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE)"