Last week, the Governor signed P.A. 101-004 amending the Counties Code regarding county regulation of wind farms and and other wind energy facilities. The new law expressly authorizes counties to establish standards for wind farms, wind devices, and wind energy facilities in unincorporated areas even if the county has not adopted a zoning ordinance. The law also provides that only counties are authorized to regulate wind farms, devices, and facilities in unincorporated areas and outside of the 1.5 mile radius surrounding a municipality.

The bill was introduced to address a situation in Douglas County, where a Texas company planned to build a wind farm. Douglas County had not enacted a zoning ordinance although it did regulate wind farms. Two townships in the County that were opposed to the wind farm development enacted stricter zoning regulations that would have precluded the wind farm development. Under this new law, a county’s wind farm regulations would control over any township restrictions.