U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., is urging the Tennessee Valley Authority to reject a $100 million wind farm proposed to be built along 1,800 acres atop the Cumberland Plateau near Crossville.
The facility, in the Crab Orchard area off Interstate 40, would be the state’s largest wind farm when Charlottesville, Va., -based Apex Clean Energy completes construction of up to 23 wind turbines by the end of 2017.
In a letter to TVA, Black said she recently heard complaints from her constituents in the Fairfield Glade community in Cumberland County, north of Crossville, complaining about the turbines that Apex wants to build. Fairfield Glade is a retirement community on the Plateau that has attracted mostly retirees from Northern and Midwestern states to relocate on the Cumberland Plateau.
“I am hopeful we can stop this unsightly and needless project from taking place in Cumberland County residents’ backyards,” Black said, echoing criticisms voiced last week on the U.S. Senate floor by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.
TVA has yet to receive a formal application for the Crab Orchard Wind Project, which would be capable of generating 71 megawatts of electricity.
The project would be constructed on private land that would be leased from owners, but the project must still be reviewed by TVA and other federal agencies.
Wind supporters denounced Black’s criticism.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I’d much rather see a wind turbine or a solar panel than a coal plant or a nuclear cooling tower because I know they are far more healthy for our environment,” said Sandra Kurtz, a Sierra Club activist and supporter of more renewable power.
The project, announced in January, represents an investment of more than $100 million in Cumberland County.
“This represents a new partnership, ” Mark Goodwin, president of Apex Clean Energy said at the time of the announcement. “I appreciate the vision that they (leaders with Cumberland County, Crab Orchard, Crossville and the Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce) have, and we want to deliver on all the attributes that we’ve talked about with our wind farm.”
The idea of the project began several years ago when Apex approached Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr. about placing testing equipment in the area to determine whether a wind farm would be feasible in the area.
“The wind resource in Crab Orchard is excellent, so we will be able to deliver very cost-effective electricity without comparison,” Goodwin said.
TVA already operates a wind farm with 18 turbines just a few miles away on top of Buffalo Mountain, north of Oliver Springs. It was the first of its kind in the Southeast when it opened in 2005 with an initial three units. Fifteen more were added about four years ago.
The project would require getting a National Environmental Policy Act permit. Actual construction would take about nine months. During that time, 50 jobs would be created, with five to 15 full-time permanent jobs resulting once the facility is complete.
Power from the wind farm would be tied to the national interconnection electric grid through Tennessee Valley Authority transmission lines.
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