Orange County - Development Standards for Small Wind Energy Systems

January 12, 2016


In December 2010, the County of Orange Board of Supervisors adopted small wind performance and development standards (Ord. No. 10-020) in order to promote distributed generation systems in non-urbanized areas (as defined in Government Code Section 65944(d)(2)) within the unincorporated territory. Permitting standards are for systems of 50 kW or less per customer site, for which the energy is primarily for on-site consumption.

Height: For systems 45 feet tall or less, a use permit must be approved by the Zoning Administrator, and for systems between 45 and 80 feet in height, the use permit must be approved by the Planning Commission. Systems of up to 100 feet may be considered if special circumstances can be demonstrated.

Site Area: Lot size for the wind system can not be less than 1 acre.

Number of Units: For systems of 60 feet or less, there may not be more than 2 systems on a lot of 5 acres or less. For every additional 5 acres of land, 1 more system may be added, for up to 5 total systems. For systems taller than 60 feet, only 1 system is allowed per 10 acres of land. No more than 3 systems total are allowed.

Setback: All systems must be set back from property lines at least 2 times the height of the system. Towers must be set apart from each other at least 1.5 times the height of the taller tower. All parts of the system, including guy wire anchors, must be at least 30 feet away from property lines. Additional fire setback requirements may apply.

System: Wind turbine systems must meet minimu California Energy Commission ratings and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements. All parts of the turbine blade must be at least 15 feet from the ground. Towers cannot have a climbing apparatus below twelve feet above the ground.

Noise: All systems must comply with county Noise Control Requirements.

Visual Effects, Lighting, etc.: Systems cannot block the view of adjacent property owners and cannot be visible from a scenic highway or a landscape corridor. No lighting of the tower is permitted except as required by the FAA, Federal Communications Commission, or building codes. Wind system accessory structures should be screened using landscaping.

Program Overview

Implementing Sector: Local
Category: Regulatory Policy
State: California
Incentive Type: Solar/Wind Permitting Standards
Web Site:
Start Date:
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:
  • Wind (All)
  • Wind (Small)


Name: County of Orange Zoning Code Section 7-9-146.8
Date Enacted: 12/14/2010


Name: County of Orange
Address: 300 North Flower Street
Santa Ana CA 92702
Phone: (714) 667-8888

This information is sourced from DSIRE; the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.