Standards for Municipal Small Wind Regulations and Model Ordinance

May 26, 2023


In July 2008, New Hampshire enacted legislation designed to prevent municipalities from adopting ordinances or regulations that place unreasonable limits on or hinder the performance of wind energy systems up to 100 kilowatts (kW) in capacity. Such wind turbines must be used primarily to produce energy for on-site consumption. The law identifies several possible restrictions that would be considered unreasonable:

  • The outright prohibition of small wind turbines (i.e., wind turbines up to 100 kW) in all districts of a municipality.
  • Generic height restrictions that do not specifically address the allowable tower height or system height of small wind turbines.
  • Property boundary setback requirements greater than 150% of the system height. Smaller setback requirements are permitted by the adoption of a regulation or through a zoning variance, but the standard setback is set at 150% of the system height if a municipality declines to adopt a specific setback requirement.
  • Setting maximum noise limits than specified by site evaluation committee rules -- measured at the site property line -- or not allowing the limit to be exceeded during short-term events such as power outages or wind storms.
  • Setting structural or design standards that exceed the applicable state, federal, or international building or electrical codes or laws.

The law requires wind turbines to comply with all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and applicable airport zoning regulations. It also includes rules and processes for the removal of out-of-service or abandoned turbines (at the owner’s expense). Finally, it includes a requirement to notify immediate neighbors upon application for a building permit.

The law also required the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning to issue a technical bulletin and develop a model ordinance to help guide local municipalities to follow the standards as they develop their own ordinances. Municipalities may change the model ordinance as appropriate. Major components of the model ordinance include a procedure for reviewing proposed small wind turbines, standards for reviewing applications for small wind turbines, and abandonment procedures.*

For a catalog of recent planning legislation and amendments to state statutes, click here.

* This model ordinance was designed to provide guidance to local governments that want to develop their own siting rules for wind turbines. While it was developed as part of a cooperative effort involving stakeholders and governmental entities, the model itself has no legal or regulatory authority. The standards are required, however.

Program Overview

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


Name: New Hampshire Statutes § 674:62, et seq.
Date Enacted: 07/11/2008 (subsequently amended)
Effective Date: 07/11/2009


Name: NH Office of Energy and Planning
Address: Johnson Hall 3rd Floor, 107 Pleasant Street
Concord NH 03301
Phone: (603) 271-2155

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.