Council votes YES for renewable energy

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Madison Peak Oil Group asked for a yes vote on an ordinance making wind and solar installations permitted uses in the city of Madison. A media release issued by Satya Rhodes-Conway confirms a yes vote by the Council:

Yesterday, Madison's City Council passed an ordinance amendment, sponsored by Alders Satya Rhodes-Conway, Marsha Rummel and Brian Solomon, that makes solar and wind energy systems "permitted accessory uses" under Madison's Zoning Code. The change will also update City codes to reflect current technology and practices.

"Madison residents are really creative and dedicated when it comes to sustainability and preserving our environment," said Ald. Rhodes-Conway, the lead sponsor of the amendment. "This is a small, but important, change that will make it easier to install renewable energy systems."

Under this ordinance amendment, residents will be able to install solar and wind energy systems on their homes just like they can put in a storage shed or garage.

"Many Madisonians choose to install solar systems to lower their utility bills," said Ald. Rummel. "We want to encourage them to do so."

All solar and wind projects will still need to comply with existing City rules - for example, they will need building and other applicable permits. Projects incorporating solar or wind as one component of the project will still be subject to all the normal reviews.

"This is just one small way for the City to support renewable energy," said Ald. Solomon. "I hope that it will lead to more solar systems in Madison."

The ordinance includes restrictions on the height of wind turbines on
towers: They must be set back from lot lines at least as much as their height or have an easement from the adjoining property.
After the vote, RENEW's Michael Vickerman said:
The City Attorney's office started working on the amendments in May, drafts of which were then reviewed and revised over the summer by a host of city committees (Sustainable Design and Energy, Planning, Urban Design and Landmarks). Over the course of committee review, the definition of wind energy was changed to incorporate the recommended dimensions and setbacks in the Focus on Energy model ordinance for small wind systems. With last night's vote those recommendations became official in the City of Madison. So the passage of this ordinance amendment represents a real step forward for the Focus on Energy renewable energy program.

Cerainly this victory could not have happened but for the strong support of Mayor Cieslewicz. But there were a number of individuals who deserve credit for shaping this zoning amendment, shepherding it through the committee review process, and steering it through the shoals of the City Council, which, as last night's discussion and debate showed, can be treacherous waters. They include Jeanne Hoffman, Kitty Noonan, and Kay Schindel from the City, the sponsors on the City Council (Satya Rhodes-Conway, Marsha Rummel and Brian Solomon), and the Sustainable Design and Energy committee members who showed up last night to speak in support of this initiative (Sherrie Gruder, Pete Taglia and myself). Everyone's contribution counted.