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18.50.250 Wind Energy Conversion Systems
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Purpose: The City of Olathe regulates Wind Energy Conversion Systems (WECS) to accommodate the development of wind power resources in the City while providing standards to protect the public health, safety and general welfare. This section implements PlanOlathe’s policy to encourage the use of alternative energy in new development and redevelopment, subject to performance standards that protect neighborhood character and avoid unreasonable impacts to neighboring property.

A. Applicability

1. This section applies to any Wind Energy Conversion System (WECS), defined in subsection B, below.

2. This section does not apply to:

a. Large-capacity Commercial-WECS, which is prohibited within the City corporate limits; and

b. A subdivision or re-subdivision of land, or a lot split for a micro-WECS that meets all other requirements of these regulations, which may be approved administratively.

3. Any physical modification to a permitted WECS that materially alters the size, type and number of Wind Turbines or other equipment requires approval under the same procedures as an original application. Like-kind replacements do not require a permit modification.

4. The Planning Commission or Governing Body, when considering a special use permit application for a WECS, may waive a standard in this section subject to review and approval of detailed information submitted by the applicant illustrating the need and justification for the deviation.

B. Definitions

For the purpose of this section, and in addition to words defined in other sections of these regulations, certain terms or words used in this subsection of these regulations shall be interpreted or defined as follows, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

Facility Owner

The entity or entities having an ownership or equity interest in the Wind Energy Conversion System, including their respective successors and assigns.

Hub Height

The distance from the base of the tower to the center of the hub to which rotors are connected.

Meteorological Tower

Temporary towers erected by WECS owner-applicants to measure wind speed and directions, and other data relevant to siting WECS. Meteorological towers do not include towers and equipment used by airports or similar structures to monitor weather conditions.


The entity responsible for the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the Wind Energy Facility.

Property line

The boundary line of the area over which the entity applying for a WECS permit has legal control for the purposes of installation of a WECS. This control may be attained through fee title ownership, easement, or other appropriate contractual relationship between the facility owner/developer and landowner.

Rotor diameter

The diameter of the circle described by the moving rotor blades.


Any electrical facility designed to convert electricity produced by wind turbines to a voltage greater than 35,000 V (35 KV) for interconnection with high voltage transmission lines.

Total height

The highest point, above ground level, reached by a rotor tip or any other part of the WECS.

Turbine Height

The distance measured from the surface of the tower foundation to the highest point of the turbine rotor plane.


Towers include vertical structures that support the electrical generator, rotor blades, or meteorological equipment.

Tower height

The total height of the WECS excluding the rotor blades.

Transmission Line

Those electrical power lines that carry voltages of at least 69,000 volts (69 KV) and are primarily used to carry electric energy over medium to long distances rather than directly interconnecting and supplying electric energy to retail customers. In a commercial WECS, a transmission line will carry electricity from the WECS substation to the point of interconnect (POI).

Wind Energy Conversion System (WECS)

An electrical generating facility comprised of one or more wind turbines and accessory facilities, including but not limited to:

Micro-WECS: A WECS of up to 10.0 kW rated generating capacity or less and utilizing supporting towers of 60 feet or less.

Commercial-WECS: A WECS of more than 10.0 kW and less than 100 kW in total rated generating Capacity.

Large-capacity Commercial-WECS: A WECS greater than 100 kW in total name plate generating capacity.

Alternative-WECS: A WECS other than a standard turbine-mounted propeller-type blade system, such as a vertical axis or a horizontal axis wind conversion system, a helix wind turbine, or similar alternative design.

Wind Turbine (or Turbine)

Any piece of electrical generating equipment that converts the kinetic energy of wind into electrical energy through the use of airfoils or similar devices to capture the wind, and includes the nacelle, rotor, tower, and pad transformer, if any.

C. General Provisions

1. Noise

The noise emitted from any wind turbine shall not exceed 50 dbA within 100 feet of the nearest property line, except during short-term events such as utility outages and severe windstorms.

2. Materials, signs and markings

Structures for wind turbines shall be self-supporting tubular towers painted a neutral color such as a white or pale gray. No lattice structure shall be used. No logos or advertisements are allowed on these structures. Each turbine shall be marked with a visible identification number located no higher than fifteen (15) feet above ground level.

3. Electromagnetic interference

No individual tower facility shall be installed in any location where its proximity with fixed broadcast, retransmission or reception antenna for radio, television or wireless phone or other personal communications systems would produce electromagnetic interference with signal transmission or reception. In the event the WECS and its associated facilities or its operations cause such interference, the facility owner(s) and/or operator(s) shall take timely measures necessary to correct the problem.

4. Separation requirements

If two or more ground-mounted wind turbines are located on one lot, they shall be separated by a distance 110 percent of the total height of the tallest wind turbine on the lot.

5. Damage to Public Property

Applicants are liable for any damage to public roads or rights-of-way resulting from tower construction, deconstruction, and/or maintenance activity.

6. Tower Design

No lattice structures are permitted. All tower structures shall be of self-supporting, monopole construction. However, a wind turbine designed to be attached to a structurally reinforced roof does not require a self-supporting monopole design where the support is not warranted, if the roof-mounted turbine height is no greater than one half the height of a standard two-story building.

7. Federal and State Regulations

All WECS shall comply with State and Federal standards and regulations.

8. Electrical Codes and Standards

All WECS and accessory equipment and facilities shall comply with the National Electrical Code and other applicable standards. All electrical wires associated with a WECS shall be located underground except for those wires necessary to connect the wind generator to the tower wiring, the tower wiring to the disconnect junction box, and the grounding wires. Wherever possible collection cables will be placed underground. When necessary collection cables may be placed above ground.

9. Collection Lines

All communications and collection lines, equal to or less than 34.5kV in capacity, installed as part of a WECS shall be buried wherever possible.

10. Clearance

The minimum distance between the ground and any part of the rotor blade system of a Commercial-WECS is 30 feet. The blade tip clearance for Micro-WECS shall, at its lowest point, have a ground clearance of at least 25 feet.

11. Self-Support Structures

All tower structures shall be of monopole construction unless attached to a structurally reinforced roof where pole support is not warranted. Meteorological towers may be guyed. For all guyed towers, visible and reflective objects, such as plastic sleeves, reflectors or tape, shall be placed on the guy wire anchor points and along the outer and innermost guy wires up to a height of 8 feet above the ground. Visible fencing shall be installed around anchor points of guy wires.

12. Tower Access

All access doors to the tower and electrical equipment shall be lockable. If access doors are not lockable the supporting tower shall be enclosed with a six foot tall fence with a locking portal placed around the tower’s base or the tower climbing apparatus shall be limited to no lower than 12 feet above ground level.

13. Signs

Appropriate warning signage shall be placed on wind turbine towers, electrical equipment and WECS facility entrances. Signs and/or logos are limited to the manufacturer’s, installer’s, or owner’s identification and appropriate warning signs. Commercial advertising is prohibited.

14. Building code compliance

All wind turbines shall meet or exceed the current standards expressed in the adopted building codes. A building permit is required prior to the installation of any wind turbine.

15. Utility connections

Reasonable efforts shall be made to locate utility connections from the wind turbine(s) underground, depending on appropriate soil conditions, shape, and topography of the site and any requirements of the utility provider. Electrical transformers for utility interconnections may be above ground if required by the utility provider. For electrical transformers with a 40 footprint greater than two (2) square feet in area, landscaping shall be provided where necessary to substantially screen the structure from public view and/or the view of adjacent homeowners. The property owner shall maintain all landscaping.

16. Electrical wires

All electrical wires associated with a wind turbine shall be located underground except for those wires necessary to connect the wind generator to the tower wiring, the tower wiring to the disconnect junction box, and the grounding wires.

17. Safety Shutdown

No wind turbine is permitted that lacks an automatic braking, furling, or feathering system to prevent uncontrolled rotation, over-speeding and excessive pressure on the tower structure, rotor blades, and turbine components. Owner shall maintain the ability to shut down turbines in an emergency.

18. Lighting

Wind turbines shall not be artificially lighted except as required by the FAA and as necessary for safety and security purposes. Except as required by the FAA any lighting shall be directed downward and shall incorporate full cut-off fixtures to reduce light pollution.

19. Color/Finish. Wind turbines, exclusive of the towers, shall be painted a non- reflective, non-obtrusive color such as the manufacturer’s default color option or a color that conforms to the environment and architecture of the community.

20. Alternative-WECS

For regulatory purposes the standard turbine-mounted, propeller-type blade WECS shall be the basis for these regulations. Alternative-WECS shall be evaluated by the standards that are applicable to standard turbine-mounted, propeller-type blade WECS that are found to be in the same category of WECS; and by the manufacturers’ published installation standards as to noise, setback and related matters for the health, safety and welfare of the public.

D. Size and Lot or Parcel Restrictions

Wind turbines constructed under these regulations shall meet the following size and setback restrictions:

Table 18.50.250-1. Wind Turbine Size and Setback


Minimum Lot or Parcel Size

Maximum Turbine Height

Minimum Setback*

Additional Requirements



60 feet

110% of the Turbine Height

Subsection F, below



150 feet

110% of the Turbine Height

Subsection E, below

Large-capacity Commercial-WECS


*Measured from the closest adjacent lot line or parcel line or above ground public utility.

E. Applications for Commercial-WECS

The following items shall be submitted in support of an application for a Commercial-WECS. The City may require additional technical studies deemed necessary to fully evaluate the application, such as a noise study or geotechnical report:

1. Name of the project applicant(s), facility owner(s) and operator(s).

2. Legal description and address of the project.

3. Documentation of land ownership or legal control of the property.

4. Description of the project including: model, size, number, type, name plate generating capacity, rated power output, tower height, rotor material, rotor diameter, performance, safety, and noise characteristics of each wind turbine being proposed; also, tower and electrical transmission equipment, and total height of all wind turbines and means of interconnecting with the electrical grid.

5. A site development plan using a standard engineering scale not to exceed 1:100, indicating the placement of the wind turbine(s) and distances from the proposed turbine location to existing buildings including purpose (e.g. residence, garages, barns, etc.), any above- ground utilities, the nearest tree(s), and all property lines; and including the location of property lines, wind turbines, electrical wires, interconnection points with the electrical grid, and all related accessory structures.

6. Meteorological tower information, if applicable, including location, height, and appearance.

7. Digital pictorial representations of “before and after” views (photo simulation or similar graphic display) from key viewpoints as may be required by the City.

8. Certification by the manufacture’s engineer or another qualified engineer that the turbine, foundation and tower design of the WECS is within accepted professional standards, given local soil and climate conditions.

9. Proof of compliance with Airport Hazard Regulations in accordance with the more restrictive of : City of Olathe height and hazard regulations; or, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) Aviation Section standards under FAR Part 77, “Objects Affecting Navigable Airspace.”

10. A noise compliance summary statement to demonstrate that the wind turbine will not exceed noise standards of these regulations, except for during short-term events such as utility outages and severe windstorms. The noise summary shall include:

a. A description and map of the project’s noise producing features, including the range of noise levels expected, and the basis for those expectations.

b. A description and map of the noise sensitive environment, including any sensitive noise receptors (e.g. residences, resident care facilities, libraries, schools, and other facilities where quiet is important or where noise could be a nuisance) within one thousand (1,000) feet.

F. Applications for Micro-WECS

A Micro-WECS shall be certified under the Small Wind Turbine Performance and Safety Standard (AWEA Standard 9.1 – 2009).

G. Removal after Disuse of a Commercial-WECS

1. Upon disuse by the facility owner(s) and operator(s) of a Commercial-WECS for a continuous period of fifteen (15) months, the turbine is considered abandoned, and the requirements below apply.

2. The owner(s) shall remove the WECS within ninety (90) days of receipt of notice from the City notifying the owner of abandonment.

3. The Facility Owner and Operator shall, at their expense, complete decommissioning of the turbine.

4. Decommissioning shall include removal of turbines and any associated buildings, cabling, electrical components, roads, and all other associated facilities. Foundations of turbines shall be removed to a depth of four (4) feet below the ground surface. Any access roads shall be removed to the landowner’s satisfaction, and the ground shall be reseeded in grasses. Requirements to remove access roads do not apply to roads in existence before the WECS application was filed. The landowner may choose to have access roads left intact with the approval of the City.

5. If the turbine and associated facilities are not timely removed, the City may remove them at the owner’s expense.