Tennessee State Senate unanimously approved legislation Wednesday, April 11 protecting landowners by allowing local governments to regulate the wind energy industry in Tennessee.
Senate Bill 1793, sponsored by Senator Paul Bailey (R-Sparta) and Representative Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville), comes after legislation was passed last year requiring a study be conducted regarding wind turbines and their impact on Tennessee communities and surrounding property owners. That legislation, also sponsored by Bailey and Sexton, placed a moratorium on wind turbines until July 1, 2018, to give a joint legislative study committee time to report their findings.
Sen. Bailey said, “This legislation, which follows the recommendations of the joint legislative study committee, provides reasonable regulations of the wind industry. It protects the property rights of non-participating landowners, while setting uniform minimum requirements for the construction, operation, or redevelopment of wind energy facilities in the state.
“The bill was developed with input from the wind energy industry, the Cumberland Mountain Preservation Coalition, and other key stakeholders.”
And Rep. Sexton added, “This initiative promotes responsible wind energy production through state minimum standards. I am pleased to have sponsored a measure that will encourage more of our communities across Tennessee to utilize this plentiful and renewable form of energy while taking into account the health, safety, and right of our property owners and their neighbors.”
Local governments would have the authority to go beyond the minimum standards set by the bill. The requirement of an environmental impact and a wildlife impact assessment will allow an opportunity for public hearings and public involvement. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) would have the ability to review the wildlife impact assessment and approve, grant conditional approval or deny the permit.
The legislation calls for local governments to report annually on activity regarding legislation adopted, the number of approved permits, environmental impact assessments, and data of any decommissioned facilities.
The bill was sent to Governor Bill Haslam for his signature.