Legislators in the Tennessee House of Representatives voted to halt development of industrial wind farm projects in the state while a special committee is formed to offer recommendations on state-wide regulations for the power-generation developments.
“All other energy has regulations,” state Rep. Cameron Sexton said Monday. “Wind does not.”
Sexton said the bill will create a study committee and include representatives from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and stakeholders. The committee would be tasked with returning to the General Assembly in January with recommendations.
In the meantime, Sexton said no construction – including planning, design work or environmental studies – could take place. That includes Apex Energy Solutions, a Virginia-based company, and the proposed a 71-megawatt industrial wind farm near Crab Orchard in Cumberland County.
“They can continue to measure wind velocity and look at the bat habitat,” Sexton told the Chronicle.
The bill would halt any development until July 2018. Sexton said that would give the General Assembly time to act on recommendations of the study committee before the moratorium is lifted.
The bill is a compromise plan. Sexton had previously proposed putting regulations in place immediately. The bill was defeated in committee.
Sexton said that bill would have put regulations in place that mirror what is being done in North Carolina – including decommissioning bonds and setbacks.
Tennessee is one of just four states in the nation with no state regulations on wind power.
Sexton thanked members of a local group opposed to the wind farm project, many of whom traveled to Nashville to help speak with lawmakers on the proposal.
“This is a common-sense compromise,” Sexton said. “We can take our time and do it right.”
The bill is awaiting a vote in the state Senate.
The Chronicle contacted Apex Energy Solutions and as of press time the company did not supply a comment regarding the subject.
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