Tennessee Wind Project Suspended

Finding alternative and renewable energy sources is essential for securing continued affordable power across not only Tennessee but also across the country. Fossil fuels are non-renewable, and eventually our supply will dwindle: when this happens the cost of energy will increase considerably, and low supply levels could even make energy availability scarce. As a result it is essential that we find renewable energy sources within the state that are accessible, affordable, and kind to the planet. However the search for affordable renewable energy in Tennessee has hit a bump in the road this month, with state laws halting development of a $100 million wind farm project in the state for at least the next twelve months. Developer Apex Clean Energy of Charlottesville, Virginia, cited “current market conditions” as their reason for suspending the project.

Concerns About the Impact of the Wind Farm

The instigator of the reason the project has been temporarily suspended is because of a moratorium that was sponsored by Crossville Republican Rep. Cameron Sexton. Sexton posed that the residents of a nearby retirement community were concerned that the proximity of the wind farm would affect the financial value of their homes. Additional concerns presented were that the windmills would be noisy, and that they had the potential to harm local wildlife. As a result, the development manager of the project announced that it would be suspended, stating that “There are several important inflection points at which we determine whether the fundamental attributes of the project support a continuing investment in that project…We have come to such an inflection point on the Crab Orchard Wind project.”  With 23 turbines, the now halted Crab Orchard wind farm would have been the largest of its kind in the state.

This is bad news for Tennessee householders hoping to take advantage of affordable and environmentally friendly renewable wind energy: the wind farm project was forecast to provide power for over 20,000 homes, removing pressure from the continued search for new fossil fuel sources. Finding affordable gas and electricity tariffs is a challenge for households that are feeling the financial strain, and it was hoped that an additional source of power being generated within the state would have driven down the overall cost of energy for consumers.

How Effective is Wind Power?

The United States is yards ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to wind power production: we produce more wind power than any other country in the world. Despite this, wind farms currently provide less than 5% of the energy in the United States, so there is certainly room for improvement; the space needed for more wind farms is available and the technology is also in place in the country. All that is needed is the demand on a state level, including more demand for wind technology within Tennessee itself. Some states are producing more wind power than others: Iowa, for example generated 31% of its energy from wind farms in 2016. By comparison, Tennessee was only able to produce 0.1% of its annual energy production from its existing wind farms.

Generating Jobs

Another key benefit of supporting wind power in the state that should not be overlooked is the increased number of jobs the project would generate. Unemployment levels are still relatively high within the state of Tennessee and any project that could lead to increased employment levels should be welcomed. Wind power currently supports 73,000 high level, specialist jobs across all 50 states. Included in the figure are the almost 20,000 American workers working within over 500 factories across 43 states who now build wind turbine parts and materials.It stands the reason that the more wind turbines we use and need to build, the more jobs will become available creating the parts and materials that are so integral to this industry. It is hoped that by 2030, 20% of all power within the United States will be generated by wind farms and, if this target is reached, we will see another increase in the number of jobs and the financial gains generated from wind energy production. Maybe it’s time to reassess the wind power situation in Tennessee, to ensure that as the industry develops, our state doesn’t get left behind.

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