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Purdue University study surveys Indiana’s renewable energy ordinances

Wind turbines at a farm in White County
Ben Thorpe
Wind turbines at a farm in White County

Roughly two-thirds of Indiana’s counties have zoning regulations specific to wind and solar installations, according to a Purdue University study released Tuesday which surveyed county ordinances around renewable energy projects.

State lawmakers have grappled with how best to incentivize local jurisdictions to adopt statewide standards for renewable energy projects - passing a law earlier this year allowing communities to adopt several standards that would define them as “wind and solar-ready.”

Tamara Ogle is a regional community development educator for Purdue Extension. She said the survey found that, out of Indiana’s 92 counties, 46 have zoning ordinances for solar projects and 51 for wind energy. She said the inventory will help policymakers and communities see how other areas are planning around renewables.

“It does give communities the ability to see what is happening across the state, it gives legislators and decision-makers that opportunity, and it gives developers that opportunity as well,” she said.

Eight counties across the state have ordinances that ban commercial wind projects. Ten counties do not have ordinances regulating renewable projects at all, with roughly twenty more counties regulating renewable projects only as “utilities.”

Ogle said counties should be proactive in planning around renewable projects.

“Our state is very different from north to south and east to west,” she said. “It’s likely if we were to adopt zoning rules for the entire state, they likely wouldn’t work in some counties to protect the unique resources and feels of those communities.”

Ogle said the survey also asked counties about preparations for climate change, which will be the focus of an upcoming report.

Ben Thorp