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Clay County sets stricter rules for wind turbines

The Clay County Commission approved an ordinance Tuesday that establishes standards stricter than state law on where wind turbines can be erected and how noisy they can be at night.

The new rules apply to projects not regulated by the state, which are those that generate less than 5 megawatts of power.

The new ordinance, approved unanimously, requires wind towers to be 1,500 feet away from neighboring homes.

The state standard is 500 feet.

The county ordinance sets a noise limit of 40 decibels between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

The night noise limit set by the state is 50 decibels.

While the county ordinance applies to relatively small projects, the developer of a proposed wind farm in Clay County has said the rules could threaten that project because state regulators are required to consider local rules when deciding whether to grant a permit.

An official with Project Resources Corp., the company behind the proposed Lakeswind project, wouldn't say on Tuesday whether the new ordinance will change the company's plans.

But Diana Wilson said Project Resources is relying on statements made by county officials that the new ordinance will not apply to Lakeswind, which is looking to set up 20 to 30 towers in western Minnesota, with about a third of those in Clay County.