While admitting that the Crossville city council had no “dog in the hunt” over the proposed wind farm project near Crab Orchard, city councilman Danny Wyatt proposed that the city not support the project and encourage the county to do the same.
Reasons given by Mr. Wyatt for his motion include, “the effect on our natural beauty and tourism.” Wyatt also claimed that the project had “a large amount of tax subsidy tied to it.” Wyatt's motion was supported by councilman Jesse Kerley and after lengthy discussion was approved.
Mayor James Mayberry stated that there were people in favor of the project and people opposed. Mayberry added that he personally had business in that area and he would abstain when it was time for a vote.
Councilman Pete Souza sought the floor and spoke in support of the project saying he was disappointed by Sen. Alexander's letter. He added, “I have some reservations about information that was provided by government mail outs.” He said there were tousits destinations like Pebble Beach and Palm Springs that had wind mills and they did not seem to bother them any.
Council members discuss the proposed wind farm near Crab Orchard. L-R are Pete Souza, Danny Wyatt, Mayor James Mayberry, Jesse Kerley and city clerk Sally Oglesby
Souza said you can drive all over the US and see them, especially out west, “I was out underneath one three weeks ago and I didn't hear any noises. Souza continued saying comments were made that the power was not needed and he reminded the audience that when there was a drought that electric customers had been asked to turn their air conditioner's off during the day. He explained that the power gird in the US and Canada are all tied together and power generated at Hoover Dam or Oxbow were all tied to lines here.
“People are worried about nuclear waste, continued Souza, “Some people worry about the safety. People don't want to dam up anymore rivers and stop the fish, no more hydroelectricity. They don't want solar panels because it obstructs the travel of tortoises. They don't want wind farms because it may kill birds or make noise or whatever.”
“Somebody's got to start thinking, because since I lived in this county, I've seen the county grow. So, are we going to use renewable power?” Souza said he had close friends that were opposed to the project.
Souza summed up, “I believe this is not going to hurt the county. I think that that's misinformation.” He added that the use of grant money depends on which side of the argument you want to stand on. He added, “We use it all the time. I'm not going to support this.”
Councilman Wyatt responded saying he didn't want to take a chance of us losing our appeal of our community. “That's how we got to where were at.” Wyatt ticked off elected officials that opposed the project including state representative Cameron Sexton, US Representative Diane Black, state senator Paul Bailey and US senator Lamar Alexander.
Said Wyatt, “I'd like someone to tell me one positive point to this. It's not going to have any local jobs to speak of.”
Mayor Mayberry responded saying “property tax.” He added that the tax on the windmills was estimated to provide $364,000 in property tax per year, the equivalent to a 2 cent tax increase according to Mayberry.
Souza spoke again and said more positive was that the works who would build the project would be staying here and spending money here and it would take a long time to build the project. He said that spending would also generate tax revenue though he couldn't say how much that would be. The third thing Souza mentioned was power and the nationwide need for it.
Councilman Jesse Kerley thanked Mr. Wyatt for putting the item on the agenda as it is a subject he's been discussing with other people. Kerley added, “There's a lot of unhappy folks out there and I don't think I've run into a one besides Mr. Souza here who actually supports this.”
The vote recorded with two votes in favor was approved. Mr. Souza was opposed and Mr. Mayberry abstained. Council member Pamala Harris was absent from the meeting.
At the public comment time at the end of the council meeting, citizen Randall Kidwell also spoke in opposition to the wind farm project.