Representative Cameron Sexton (Crossville) and Senator Paul Bailey (Sparta) are attempting to kill wind power in Tennessee.
In 2015, Apex Clean Energy announced plans to install 71 megawatts of wind power generation on a ridge above Crossville, TN. Local residents raised concerns about scenic views, impacts to wildlife and property values which led to the introduction of state legislation (SB 1793/HB1731), by Representative Cameron Sexton (Crossville) and Senator Paul Bailey (Sparta) to study wind turbine siting in Tennessee. Unfortunately, their legislation has been hijacked by national anti-renewable energy forces and amended to end wind power development across the state by requiring onerous restrictions such as a 10x the height setback from the property line and sound levels of 35 decibels (quieter than birdsong). While the Sierra Club recognizes the legitimate concerns of the Crossville community, we don't want to see wind power killed in Tennessee.
Despite the stated intent of their original bill to ask the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to study wind turbine siting regulations in other states, Sexton and Bailey introduced and passed an amendment to their legislation through the Senate Energy Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee and House Agriculture and the House Natural Resource Subcommittee with no public notice, despite requests from committee members to allow them time to study the amendment.
Their bill, as amended has been sent back to calendar while the House Natural Resources Committee works out amendments, but it could be scheduled for a vote at any time.
Please send a message to your legislators asking them not to kill clean energy in Tennessee.
While intended to protect their constituents in Crossville, Sexton and Bailey’s legislation would effectively kill wind power in Tennessee and is quite likely illegal.
Among the problems with SB 1793/HB1731 as amended are:
- The amendment makes it illegal to ask for a permit either from TRA or locally.
- This broad definition of "construction" includes asking for permit so you have to have permit to apply for permit.
- It makes it illegal to plan for a project without a permit but you obviously can't get permit without a plan, etc.It makes it illegal to study the feasibility of a project
- It makes it illegal to even think about environmental impacts without a TRA certificate but you cannot get a TRA certificate without doing research, feasibility and a study on local impacts
Amendment SA0621 says any new wind generation facility has to get a “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity” from the Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA).
“No person shall undertake the construction, operation, or redevelopment of a wind energy facility or a wind energy facility expansion in this state unless a certificate of public convenience and necessity is first obtained from the public utility commission. . . .”
This badly drafted Amendment makes it illegal to apply for a “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity”.
It is illegal to undertake construction of a wind project without a Certificate but the existing definition of “construction” includes “planning” and “permitting” – seeking a Certificate is permitting - forbidden until you have a Certificate/permit. (T.C.A. 65-17-101(1).
A wind generation project is supposed to get a Certificate before it has considered:
“Environmental mitigation”. A project must have a Certificate to do an “Environmental evaluation” and a “Feasibility analysis”, that do not include wind and environmental analysis.