May 26, 2016
Opinions, Tennessee

Is Crab Orchard wind project full of hot air?

Keith Walther, Vista Publisher/Editor | May 25th, 2016 |

Kermit the Frog said it best: “It’s not easy being green.”

Especially when it comes to Green Energy resources – like Solar Power, GeoThermal Power and Wind Power.

The proponents of these types of energy are good people. They care about the environment and they care about using renewable energy to lessen the need for fossil fuels and limit Carbon pollution, etc.

I get that.

Now, some who do not always support and defend the advancement of so-called clean energy are viewed as not caring about the environment and global warming and are just looking out for themselves. Proponents of projects like Crab Orchard Wind might call these ones “NIMBYs” – a pejorative for someone who supports a project or Green Energy – but just do not want it where THEY live.

I say, what’s wrong with that? Perhaps you might want to call the mass majority of residents of the Glade “NIMBYs then?

And frankly, the ones who are undecided or think the 20-23 Turbines up on the Cumberland Mountain ridge is a good thing – they just may not know all the facts.

Our state Senator, Lamar Alexander, spoke on the floor on May 18th asking Cumberland County residents to fight against the project (see story on this page and find his complete speech at

Others are starting to do their own research and get their own answers from documented sources. I, too, have done my research.

I have listened and read all the information sent to me, provided to me, by Apex Clean Energy – the developers of Crab Orchard Wind. I have gone to their website and watched their videos. I have gone elsewhere on line and read about green energy and wind farms from those who back them.

Perhaps many of their projects have been beneficial to other communities. However, in the words of Forrest Gump, “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love (for Fairfield Glade) is.” And I am starting to have the opinion that this project would be a terrible thing for OUR community.

Why? Well, I will give some quick answers to some issues of concern which – despite the best efforts of Apex reps to provide answers – have me even more concerned.

First of all, just aesthetically-speaking, what will it do to Fairfield Glade – our beautiful mountains? Our views from our homes and from golf courses? etc. What will it do to Crab Orchard and its roads and how much damage in the way of erosion will be done to create access roads and the tower sites themselves?

Folks, these are not the little windmills that you would see on an old farm. These things are 600-feet high – taller than the Statue of Liberty and twice as tall as Nehlen Stadium! Speaking of which, the blades are over a football field in length.

At the only other Wind Farm in Tennessee at Buffalo Mountain near Oliver Springs, each foundation is 30-feet deep and may contain more than 3,500 cubic yards of concrete (which by the way is a major source of CO2 which proponents say wind energy helps diminish). Note: the turbines at Buffalo Mountain are smaller than the ones at Crab Orchard would be.

What is “clean” about blinking lights and turbines that often leak oils, coolants, become stained?

What about Noise? Apex has said “this sound is no louder than a kitchen refrigerator or air conditioning unit at a distance of 1,000 feet. Low frequency sound will be no different than waves on a beach and weaker than highway traffic…”

Yes, the newer turbines are quieter than older models, but the huge magnetized generators – (which to produce these generator/turbines fossil fuels must be used … not so green) – cannot avoid producing a low-frequency hum and huge blades chopping through the air at 150 mph also cannot be ignored for sound generation.

We must live at times with noise of various sorts. But this is one we have a choice in.

Now, is Wind Energy dependable?

Well, can you predict when the wind blows and how hard? Historical data supports the fact that “wind factories don’t operate almost 75% of the time due to the intermittency of wind,” said one source.

Alexander added that Wind power is “only 1.3 percent of all electricity produced in the United States, and it’s no substitute for a nuclear plant, a coal plant, a natural gas plant which produces electricity all the time. Wind only produces when the wind blows.”

On top of that, wind needs 100% back-up – they themselves need power from the grid to work. Overall, farms do not bring about any reduction in the use of conventional power plants and its energy produced is minuscule in comparison.

Of chief concern to Glade residents are property values? Will they go down because of a Wind Farm?

There have been many studies done that could be cited but, for now, suffice it to note that common sense says that given two otherwise identical properties, the one that is not next or near to an industrial wind power facility or whose view does not include such a facility is likely to be considered more valuable.

And what – if this project occurs – if many Glade residents up and move as they have stated they would? What does that do to the neighborhood? What does that do to property values? As time went on, think of property taxes lost and tourism revenues lost. Who is to guarantee these things will not happen? Will Apex? Will they insure it?

And how “Green” is it when birds and bats – which are necessary to the ecosystem here, keeping insect populations in check for just one thing – are killed? Proponents say there is no hard evidence and/or very slight evidence that turbines kill. They say that cars and office windows kill more birds.

How many cars and office buildings are there up on Cumberland Mountain? To use just ONE example, at least 2,000 bats were killed on Backbone Mountain in West Virginia in just 2 months during their 2003 fall migration.

So … in regards to the Crab Orchard Wind project, which is it? Can things be argued both ways until our brains are in a pretzel? Is the truth somewhere in the middle?

I have listened and read all the information sent to me, provided to me, by Apex Clean Energy – the developers of Crab Orchard Wind – and I have presented it in the pages of The Vista. I have gone to their website and watched their videos. I have gone elsewhere on line and read about green energy and wind farms from those who back them.

Bottom line: It is up to you to decide.

Yet, after all this, even if Wind Farms are everything and more that their proponents say they are, the question that keeps popping up in my mind as someone who lives here in Fairfield Glade, is this: Why here? Why does Apex want to build here? Why should we allow it? What’s in it for us?

Oh, we’ve heard about the property taxes. The energy companies also claim that they increase the local tax base. But is that more than offset by the loss of open land, the loss of tourism, the stagnation or decrease in property values? Doesn’t Fairfield Glade generate some pretty nice property taxes as it stands?

Remember the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Is there something wrong with our beautiful mountains? Our views? Are we in dire need of a Wind Farm? Are our electricity costs exorbitant? Would Wind power offset that?


Is there a reason why tourists from all over the country come here to enjoy Cumberland County, Fairfield Glade and Ozone Falls in Crab Orchard? Yes.

I don’t care what benefits in the way of revenue and royalties the ones who may lease their land in the Cumberland Mountains may obtain. Apex has leased 7,000 acres but deny that more turbines would be placed down the road and only about 180 acres will be specifically used for the Turbines operation. Will they guarantee that? FYI – Buffalo Mountain (not developed by Apex Clean Energy) started off with only three turbines but 15 were added later.

Thus far, Apex has not been able to tell us EXACTLY where these turbines are going to be! Will it affect views of those who spent their life savings to retire here? Will the views off certain tee boxes and driving around the Glade be scarred by Windmills?

Will there be health effects? Again, they say no. But many studies say yes.

Now I understand that they are just doing their job. It’s nothing personal on their part.

But for us, the residents, it has to be personal from the standpoint that we will be here long after they have gone to their next project.

Obviously, they don’t live here. But, they also don’t get the final say as to whether or not this project goes to fruition. You (hopefully) do.

It’s not about not being “green” … it is simply a matter of saying “Not here” … “Not in our neighborhood.”

Call us NIMBYs. That’s OK.

But if we don’t need it, why would we want it?

Sorry Kermit, but when it comes to kissing a frog, we know one when we see one.

And I don’t think this frog is ever going to turn into a Prince of a deal for Fairfield Glade.

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