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Senator speaks out against windmill power

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has gone on the offensive – against windmills.

But unlike Don Quixote, Alexander’s complaints are economic, and he says the windmills will cost Tennesseans $410 million a year in higher bills.

The energy-producing alternative to coal plants would also ruin scenic sites in Tennessee, says Alexander, a Republican, in a press release.

Alexander told the Senate on Tuesday as it began debate on a new energy bill that a proposed renewable-energy standard involving wind power would “raise our taxes (and) run away jobs.” At issue are proposed 720 40-story wind turbines, which Alexander said would ruin “our pristine mountaintops.”

And Alexander says Tennesseans could pay billions of dollars in penalty taxes to the federal government if the bill is passed.

“In Tennessee the wind simply doesn’t blow enough to produce much electric power,” Alexander says. “Residential homeowners can’t afford these taxes, industries will take their jobs to states with cheaper power and tourists will spend their dollars where they can see mountaintops instead of giant wind turbines.”

Alexander says nuclear energy and clean coal are suitable alternatives, ones to keep in mind as the federal government seeks to cut down on carbon emissions which head to the sky during the generation of electricity.

“Because of its nuclear and hydro plants, Tennessee is already on the honor roll, ranking 16th among states in production of carbon-free electricity,” Alexander says.

Alexander says Tennessee is one of 27 states that would not meet the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) expected to be offered as an amendment by Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., as part of the energy legislation now before the U.S. Senate.

Bingaman’s amendment would mandate that 15 percent of energy come from renewable sources by 2020, such as wind, or that utilities pay a penalty for failing to meet that goal.

Alexander says TVA estimates that Bingaman’s proposal would eventually add $410 million a year to Tennesseans’ utility bills.

Alexander says the Volunteer State will not succeed in wind power as the National Academy of Sciences says 93 percent of potential wind-energy capacity occurs west of the Mississippi River, with just 7 percent in other states east of the Mississippi.

Alexander, the senior senator from Tennesse, says TVA scientists allege that it would take 720 wind turbines lining 110 miles of East Tennessee ridge tops, the distance from Knoxville to Chattanooga, to meet just a 2 percent proposed wind standard.

Nashville Business Journal

14 June 2007