Standards for Municipal Small Wind Regulations and Model Ordinance (New Hampshire)

From Open Energy Information

Last modified on February 12, 2015.

Rules Regulations Policies Program

Place New Hampshire
Name Standards for Municipal Small Wind Regulations and Small Wind Model Wind Ordinance
Incentive Type Solar/Wind Permitting Standards
Applicable Sector Agricultural, Commercial, Fed. Government, Industrial, Institutional, Local Government, Nonprofit, Residential, Schools, State Government, Tribal Government, Utility
Eligible Technologies Wind
Active Incentive Yes
Implementing Sector State/Territory
Energy Category Renewable Energy Incentive Programs

Date added to DSIRE 2010-01-01
Last DSIRE Review 2013-02-04

References DSIRE[1]


In July 2008, New Hampshire enacted legislation designed to prevent municipalities from adopting ordinances or regulations that place unreasonable limits or hinder the performance of wind energy systems up to 100 kilowatts (kW) in capacity. Such wind turbines must be used primarily to produce energy for on-site consumption. The law identifies a several possible restrictions that would be considered unreasonable:

  • The outright prohibition of small wind turbines (i.e., wind turbines up to 100 kW) in all districts of a municipality.
  • Generic height restrictions that do not specifically address the allowable tower height or system height of small wind turbines.
  • Property boundary setback requirements greater than 150% of the system height. Smaller setback requirements are permitted by the adoption of a regulation or through a zoning variance, but the standard setback is set at 150% of the system height if a municipality declines to adopt a specific setback requirement.
  • Setting maximum noise limits lower than 55 decibels at the property line or not allowing the limit to be exceeded during short-term events such as power outages or wind storms.
  • Setting structural or design standards that exceed the applicable state, federal, or international building or electrical codes or laws.

The law requires wind turbines to comply with all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and applicable airport zoning regulations. It also includes rules and processes for the removal of out-of-service or abandoned turbines (at the owner’s expense). Finally, it includes a requirement to notify immediate neighbors upon application for a building permit.

The law also required the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning to issue a technical bulletin and develop a model ordinance to help guide local municipalities follow the standards as they develop their own ordinances. This bulletin and model ordinance were published in September 2008.* Municipalities may change the model ordinance as appropriate. Major components of the model ordinance include a procedure for reviewing proposed small wind turbines, standards for reviewing applications for small wind turbines, and abandonment procedures.

* This model ordinance was designed to provide guidance to local governments that want to develop their own siting rules for wind turbines. While it was developed as part of a cooperative effort involving stakeholders and governmental entities, the model itself has no legal or regulatory authority. The standards are required, however.

Authority 2: New Hampshire Statutes § 674:62, et seq.
Date Effective 2009-07-11
Date Enacted 07/11/2008 (subsequently amended)

Authority 3: NHOEP Small Wind Energy Systems Tech Bulletin and Model Ordinance
Date Enacted 2008-09-30

  • 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)"