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San Diego County - Wind Regulations (California)

Eligibility 
Commercial
Industrial
Residential
Program Info
State 
California
Program Type 
Solar/Wind Permitting Standards
Provider 
County of San Diego

The County of San Diego has established zoning guidelines for wind turbine systems of varying sizes in the unincorporated areas of San Diego County. Wind turbine systems can be classified as small, medium, or large, and have different siting requirements. Turbines of all sizes must abide by Noise Abatement and Control laws, must have restricted public access using locked fences, non-climbable towers, or other restrictions, and must have appropriate warning signs posted. A wind turbine is considered non-operational if it produces less than 10% of the expected power output for 12 consecutive months.

Small Wind Turbine System: An installation consisting of no more than one wind turbine and a blade sweep area of 220 square feet or less. Small systems must be installed on a parcel of at least 1 acre and should be set back from property lines and roads at least 2 times the height of the wind system. The height of the turbine may not exceed 60 feet. Specific zone and fire setback requirements also apply. Non-operational turbines must be removed within 12 months after becoming non-operational.

Medium Wind Turbine System: Installation consisting of one to five turbines with a combined blade sweep area of 850 square feet or less. A medium system must be installed on a parcel of at least 1 acre and requires an Administrative Permit. Turbines must not exceed 60 feet in height and must be set back from property lines and roads at least three times the height of the tower. Specific zone and fire setback requirements also apply. Non-operational turbines must be removed within 12 months after becoming non-operational.

Large Wind Turbine System: Installation consisting of one or more turbines with a combined blade sweep area of more than 850 square feet. Large systems must be sited on a parcel of at least 5 acres and require Major Use permits. Turbine height may not exceed 80 feet. Systems must be set back from property lines and public roads at least 4 times the height of the tower, and must be set back from existing residences or civic use buildings at least 8 times the height of the tower. Towers must also be set back at least 9 times the height of the furthermost property line of any vacant adjacent parcels. Other set back restrictions or exceptions may apply. Specific measures must be taken to minimize the visual impact of large wind system projects. Project owners are required to post a "removal surety" bond sufficient to allow for the removal of non-operational wind turbines.