CUMBERLAND COUNTY – A wind farm in Cumberland County is bringing mixed reactions from neighbors.
Virgina-based company Apex Clean Energy plans to start building Crab Orchard Wind farm in 2017.
“We really look for three things: available transmission, a strong resource, and available land away from dense population ” said Apex representative Harry Snyder. “Once you can check all three of those boxes, you know you have a pretty good site for a wind farm.”
If built, the turbines will create enough electricity to power 20,000 homes, but right now the idea is mostly creating concern among residents.
“These towers are going to be over 680 feet tall, we didn’t want to destroy the beautiful look we have, the God-given look the mountains give us,” said Fairfield Glade resident George Chiaramonte.
The moment Apex announced their plan, Chiaramonte and his friend Jay McCarthy sprang into action. The pair created the Cumberland Mountain Preservation Coalition
“We have to convince people who don’t really know the technical end of this that this is going to be harmful to them, harmful to the community,” said McCarthy.
Thursday, a crowd of more than 100 gathered to discuss their concerns, and share research on the potential health dangers.
“It effects people, elderly young, autistic children, especially autistic children in a very negative way, and a lot of people have actually had to move out of their homes.” Said McCarthy “We don’t want to have that happen here in Crossville.”
While the coalition has gained a large group of supporters in their mission, there are residents who aren’t worried.
“The view, the independence, the air, everything’s nice. Do I think a windmill will cause that to be bad? I don’t think so,” said Crab Orchard Resident Joe Sherrill.
Sherrill grew up in the hills of the Cumberland Mountains and calls Crab Orchard home. The turbines have a good chance of being right in his view of the mountains.
He doesn’t feel strongly either way about the farm, but he would like to see project bring benefits specifically to that area.
“I have a desire that if something actually happens that Crab Orchard in some way benefits.” said Sherrill. “Currently, they are outside the city property, so there for the city will gain nothing but a windmill on a mountain.”
Apex has been working with the University of Tennessee’s Baker Center to do a study on the economic impact of the wind farm.
Apex representatives said that during construction, the project would create 50 temporary jobs. The farm’s property is projected to bring in more than $360,000 a year in tax money for the county as well.
Apex representatives will back in town next week to host a series of town hall meetings. In the meantime, the coalition plans to continue their efforts..
“I believe we are the David and Goliath,” said McCarthy, “Goliath being APEX because they are backed by the government, and us being David because we are backed by faith.”
This issue has gained traction in Washington D.C. Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander took to the senate floor to express his oppositions and U.S. representative Diane Black echoed those concerns in several letters to federal agencies, including the Tennessee Valley Authority and EPA.
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