Prefacing his request to pass SB1793 on the Senate Floor on April 11th, Senator Paul Bailey recognized CMPC members who were in attendance. Remarking that CMPC co-founder George Chiarmonte’s efforts in the movement (who recently lost his cancer battle) would be memorialized in TN’s first-ever wind energy regulatory legislation, Sen. Bailey garnered AYE votes of 32 Senators.
SB1793, the “Wind Energy Bill” [as Amended and Conformed to its companion House Bill] is now on its way to the Governor’s office for his signature after almost two years of community and legislative efforts at establishing regulatory measures for the industry in TN. If signed into law, TN will join 46 other states in adopting stipulations that protect the health, safety and welfare of property owners and the environment in the event of turbine facility citing.
WHAT BILL REQUIRES & PROVIDES
1 – Requires Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity
2 – Noise restrictions
3 – Setback distance
4 – 2/3 majority vote requirement for local government to proceed
5 – Environmental Impact Study
6 – TWRA approval required
7 – Speaking of mountain ridges, our sponsors included mountain ridge protection.
8 – Decommissioning of non-working and damaged equipment
9 – Stricter requirements may be pursued as a matter of STATE LAW.
This is all good. But what does it mean?
WHY WE CAN’T WE KICK BACK, CALL IT A SUCCESS & MOVE ON
Just because APEX has presumably pulled out of the Crab Orchard Wind Farm Project, it doesn’t mean they have not sold or otherwise transferred their claims and leases. The leases were very industry-friendly. The provisions and restrictions do NOT ban operations of the multitude of what had been proposed as ‘The Crab Orchard Wind Farm.’ The wind energy lease provisions for the OWNER can be reassigned without consent and the length of leases can exceed a decade or more. A different entity could emerge and take over the leases.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR COMMUNITY?
THIS IS NOT JUST A FFG ISSUE – And that’s a good thing. FFG, Crossville, Crab Orchard, Lake Tansi, Westel/Ozone/Daysville, Grassy Cove, The Homesteads and other “communities” have been mostly united in this effort and need to continue to be for the ENTIRE County. While we enjoy our privacy and limited governmental structure, we need to preserve that very concept by working together.
FFG is a community WITHIN a County, BOTH of which need to identify so because of these kinds of threats, but also to work together exploring opportunities and enhancing our respective legacies.
CUMBERLAND COUNTY SPECIFICALLY
One of the provisions in the Wind Energy Legislation is that it empowers landowners and does not threaten property rights.
Communities have the authority now, by this legislation, to make their own rules, so to speak. Crossville, Crab Orchard, Cumberland County and any other jurisdiction can modify the ‘Wind Energy’ Bill so long as it is not LESS restrictive.
They can conform certain guidelines to be more cumbersome, such as sound and setback stipulations. This is important in that it’s not a “one size fits all scenario.”
The bottom line is that each legal entity, whether it is a town, city or county, can approve or disapprove a wind industrial project based on what is sensible to THEIR environment.
As an organization, CMPC encourages everyone to keep apprised of this issue and be informed and active as to what happens on and with our beautiful Cumberland Mountains.
Cumberland Mountain Preservation Coalition is a TN Non-Profit Organization.