Posted by: Patricia Salkin | July 26, 2008

New Hampshire Enacts Law on Municipal Regulation of Small Wind Energy Systems and Solar

A research project by a group of students from the University of New Hampshire has led to a new law restricting municipalities from unreasonably prohibiting the installation or performance of small wind energy systems.  The law, signed on July 11, 2008 also establishes a simple framework for local regulation of wind turbines that are used for generation of power that is intended primarily for on-site use.  The law establishes a maximum property line setback of 150% of turbine height; a maximum noise level of 55 decibels at the property line; requires the building inspector to notify by certified mail the abutters and regionally affected municipalities and regional planning councils when a building permit application for a turbine is filed.  Further, where the small wind energy system is not used for a continuous 12-month period, it is deemed abandoned, and following notice and an opportunity to be heard, the planning board may order its removal. In addition, RSA 357:2 dealing with zoning and renewable energy was amended to provide that “installation of solar, wind, or other renewable energy systems or the building of structures that facilitate the collection of renewable energy shall not be unreasonably limited by use of municipal zoning powers or by the unreasonable interpretation of such powers except where necessary to protect the public health, safety, and welfare.” These portions of the law will take effect one year after the Governor signs the bill.  The bill also requires the State Office of Energy and Planning to develop a model ordinance by 9/30/2008.  In addition, the bill adds a new paragraph to the Developments of Regional Impact statute, RSA 36:57, outlining the role of building inspectors in that process.  This last portion of the bill became effective upon signature by the Governor (7/11/2008), and the rest of the Act takes effect on July 11, 2009.


Ch. 357 of the Laws of 2008 (signed 7/11/2008); HB 310.  Available at: 


To view a recent article on the greening of local comprehensive plans and zoning codes see: (select “choose download location” to view a complete copy of the paper)


For information on project done by the University of New Hampshire students see: 


Special thanks to Ben Frost, the New Hampshire Legislative Liaison for the APA Northern New England Chapter for providing this information. A complete listing of all of the planning related bills in the New Hampshire Legislature this session, along with links to the legislation and an indication of their status is available at:


  1. Hi – Google’s Blog alert sent me to this post because of the term “regionally.” This information and Blog would be useful to others so I will include a link to it in the July 9 issue of Regional Community Development News. Please visit, check the tools and consider a link. Tom

  2. Excellent coverage of the new New Hampshire law on Workforce Housing.

    It is great to see NH moving, nearly two decades after Britton, to implement its holdings.

    Question: Does the new law, or its “Inclusionary Zoning” provisions require the builder of market rate homes in a subdivision to fund the cost of mandated workforce/affordable dwellings there?

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