NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is urging his fellow Tennesseans to oppose what he calls an "unsightly" wind farm near the Cumberland Mountain State Park.
The longtime supporter of nuclear power argued on the Senate floor this week that the 23 wind turbines Apex Clean Energy wants to install are "massive" and would spoil the "natural beauty of our state."
"We should not allow anyone to destroy the environment in the name of saving it," said Alexander, arguing that wind energy is being fueled by "billions in wasteful taxpayer subsidies" to out-of-state companies.
Apex countered that the $130 million project will emit no pollution and create no hazardous waste as it provides a safe energy alternative near wildlife and natural areas.
Spokesman Kevin Chandler said officials at the Charlottesville, Virginia-based company were disappointed that Alexander hadn't discussed his concerns with them.
"But we have greatly appreciated the local welcome we've received in Cumberland County and look forward to making this project a reality," Chandler said.
The wind farm near Crossville, about 100 miles east of Nashville, is projected to power 20,000 homes. It is located on a privately-owned 1,800-acre site behind a limestone quarry, though the turbines would be visible from Interstate 40.
"This project will help bring about cleaner, healthier air, reduce pollution, and create economic growth and jobs in Cumberland County," Chandler said
State Rep. Cameron Sexton, a Crossville Republican, met this week to share concerns with people who live nearby. He said several are worried that their homes could lose value, or that the windmills will be noisy or harm wildlife. Residents of the Fairfield Glade retirement community are particularly concerned, he said.
"They are there because they have the view of the valley and the mountains," Sexton said.