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Senate vote last Thursday freezes Wind Farm project

On April 25th, the Tennessee House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (85 to 3) in favor of Bill HB1021. But nothing was official until the Senate gave its stamp of approval.

That happened last Thursday when SB1336 was passed with the same thunderous approval in Nashville— with 30 Ayes, 0 Nays and 1 PNV (Present not voting).

“Great job to everyone involved! And don’t forget to thank Sen. Bailey and Rep. (Cameron) Sexton,” said a Cumberland Mountain Preservation Coalition representative.

It is welcome news to all opposed to the proposed 23-turbine Wind Farm atop Millstone Mountain in Crab Orchard.

Here’s why:

State agencies will now work on setting up a permitting and a review process for projects like the one proposed for Crab Orchard. As it stood, companies like Apex Energy (would-be builders of the Crab Orchard Farm) can do anything they want if the County invites them in – regardless of what the residents of the area want and there was no State permitting process in place.

The State agencies will given a one year period to do a complete analysis and provide recommendations to the legislators by the passing of this bill that was just approved.

So, it means there is a now 1-year moratorium on the construction of any wind turbines until this process is completed. So for one year, Apex Energy will not be able to do anything while the Crab Orchard project – and any others – until this process is complete.

It also means The Bill would halt any development until July of 2018.

At that time, the recommendations of a Study Committee will be examined before the moratorium could be lifted.

After it passed the bill on Thursday – with many from Cumberland County present, including residents from Crab Orchard, Millstone Mountain, Westel-Ozone and Fairfield Glade – the Senate commented on all the hard work by Cumberland County during this current legislative process by the residents who participated in the political process by making phone calls, sending emails and conducting office visits to all the Senators advocating responsible regulations for the wind industry in Tennessee.

Residents from Crab Orchard, Millstone Mountain, Westel-Ozone and Fairfield Glade attended the session and met briefly with Senator Bailey and some of his staff after the Vote Thursday to congratulate him on a job well done.

As mentioned, this legislation is the first step in developing and delivering statewide standards that protect the environment, public safety and economic interests in our state.

Cumberland Mountain Preservation Coalition, with the help of Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF), will be monitoring all agencies during this process to keep everyone abreast of the progress as each State agency TDEC/TWRA develops a solid permitting process that will insure proper oversight for any developer who is attempting to put an industrial wind turbine power plant in the State of Tennessee.

Just like the one that is planned for Crab Orchard.

“TWF was invaluable alley in helping us win this legislative battle, “ representatives of the CMPC said.

“We would suggest for anyone who is looking for a great environmental group to make a donation to, that they consider the Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF). They were founded in 1946 and are committed to protect wildlife and our natural resources throughout our great State. TWF’s donors, supporters, and volunteers comprise a diverse group of individuals – hunters, anglers, bird watchers, hikers, gardeners, and people who just enjoy the great outdoors.”

The groups are united by a common cause: concern and compassion for wildlife and Tennessee’s natural resources. For more info please go their website: tnwf.org.

—Vista Publisher/Editor Keith Walther also contributed to this story.