Small Wind Innovation Zone Program and Model Ordinance

May 26, 2023


In May 2009 the Iowa Legislature created the Small Wind Innovation Zone Program, which allows any city, county, or other political subdivision to create small wind innovation zones that promote small wind production. In order to qualify for the designation, the city must adopt the Small Wind Innovation Zone Model Ordinance and also establish an expedited approval process for small wind energy systems. System owners must also enter into a model interconnection agreement with an electric utility.

Under this program, small wind is considered to be any turbine with a rated capacity of 100 kilowatts (kW) or less. The model ordinance requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • Tower Height and Setback: Towers be set back from all property lines, public right of ways, and above-ground public utility lines at least 115% of the total extended height of the turbine unless approval is granted by other property owners. Federal Aviation Administration height regulations apply.
  • Engineering Approval: Systems of 20 kW or less must have plans and specifications approved by an Iowa-registered engineer.
  • Safety: Climbing foot pegs or rungs below 12 feet must be removed to prevent unauthorized climbing. Lattice and guyed towers must have sheets of metal or wood fastened to the bottom tower section in order to prevent unauthorized climbing.
  • Sound: Systems may not "produce sound at a level that would constitute a nuisance," and must comply with any local ordinance relegation the "volume of sound as a nuisance, if applicable."
  • Insurance: System owners must be able to demonstrate general liability insurance coverage for the installation and operation of the system.
  • Abandonment: Owners of an inoperable wind system will receive a notice after 6 consecutive months of inoperability. At that point, the owner will have 6 months to restore the system to operating condition or remove the system.
  • Signage: No signs can be displayed on any part of a wind system, other than appropriate warnings or standard manufacturer/installer identifications.
  • Lighting: No lighting of the system is allowed unless required by the Federal Aviation Administration or other ordinances.

A political subdivision must apply to the Iowa Utilities Board for designation as a Small Wind Innovation Zone. A utility that has one or more small wind innovation zone in its service territory must file an annual report on April 1 of each year.

Floyd County, Johnson County, and Linn County are currently designated as Small Wind Innovation Zones.

Program Overview

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


Name: Iowa Code § 476.48
Date Enacted: 05/22/2009
Effective Date: 05/22/2009
Name: 199 IAC 15.22
Date Enacted: 07/28/2010
Effective Date: 09/01/2010


Name: Iowa Utilities Board
Organization: Iowa Utilities Board
Address: 1375 E. Court Avenue, Room 69
Des Moines IA 50319
Phone: (515) 725-7300

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.