Removing Administrative and Zoning Barriers to Wind Farm Construction: Re-powering New York State

Shane Egan, Albany Government Law Review Member

          Energy independence is one of America’s most important, if not most illusive, goals.  Today, the United States imports large amounts of energy from hostile governments around the world.[1]  Here in New York, we rely on out-of-state energy for a significant percentage of our energy consumption.[2]  This and other factors contribute to high energy costs inside New York.[3]   With that in mind, New York should implement policies that stimulate the intrastate production of energy.   Enhancing the use of renewable energy in New York will help lower energy costs, create jobs, and lessen our reliance on imported energy.

            Wind power can and should play an important role in meeting New York’s energy needs.  This not a new idea.  New York already has a number of renewable energy goals, including the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which calls for thirty percent of the state’s energy to be derived from renewable sources by 2015.[4]  These renewable sources include wind power, and several large projects are already underway.[5]

          However, despite New York and Federal efforts aimed at stimulating the construction of wind turbines in the form of grants[6] and tax credits,[7] there are still many obstacles standing in the way of creating sustainable wind energy.  Two such obstacles are zoning regulations and permit requirements.[8]  In order to stimulate the construction of wind farms, New York should enact legislation to break down zoning barriers and streamline the number of permits required to construct wind turbines. 

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