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County OKs regulations governing wind energy facilities

Any company interested in developing and operating a wind energy facility in Cumberland County will now be met with several regulations establishing conditions, costs and fees adopted by the county commission during last week’s monthly meeting.

Cumberland County commissioners approved a resolution based on a model developed by Tennessee’s County Technical Assistance Service.

“While Cumberland County recognizes a national interest in the development of clean energy, it also recognizes its responsibility to implement and promote energy production practices which protect the county’s natural, agricultural and built environment and the health and safety of its business entities, residents and visitors,” the resolution states.

During the 2018 legislative session, the Tennessee General Assembly established minimum regulations for wind facilities, Public Chapter 825.

According to the public chapter, “The regulations include, but are not limited to, a minimum setback requirement. Facilities must be set back from any non-participating landowner’s property line equal to 3.5 times the total height of the turbine structure, from base to maximum height of the blade tip and a noise limit. No turbine may exceed 35 decibels [dBAs] at a non-participating landowner’s dwelling or 45 dBAs at a non-participating landowner’s property line. Additionally, any permit applicant must first establish financial security of 100% of the total cost to decommission and remove the facility. These requirements apply to all wind facilities constructed or redeveloped on or after April 24, 2018, the effective date of this legislation.”

The legislation was introduced by state Sen. Paul Bailey. Part of the legislation allows counties to adopt legislation based on Tennessee Code Annotated 65-17-101.

Part of that legislation required County Technical Assistance Service to provide a model resolution for the process required to apply for wind energy facilities. Cumberland County’s resolution was approved unanimously after a motion by Rebecca Stone, 3rd District commissioner. Stone’s motion was supported by Mark Baldwin, 7th District commissioner. The resolution was sponsored by Carl MacLeod, 9th District commissioner.

The action comes a few years after a wind energy company began discussions with property owners to lease property on Millstone Mountain and a plan install several wind turbines.

Due to negative reaction in the county and throughout the state, Cumberland County and several residents requested state Rep. Cameron Sexton and Bailey look into the matter.

The state then approved a moratorium on the construction of wind energy facilities until a further study could be made. The study led to the development and approval of Public Chapter 825.

The land on Millstone Mountain is now tentatively under consideration of being added to the Cumberland Trail.