SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Learn About Mountain Wind Energy


The wind energy potential along the Southeast’s ridgetops represents a significant source of clean, abundant, and cost-effective energy that can help preserve our mountains. This resource must developed in a manner that is sensitive to the forests and biological diversity of our ridges and protects treasured viewsheds such as those in the western North Carolina mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

How much wind potential exists in the mountains?

The highest ridges in the Southeast have a strong, steady wind that blows across ridge crests. These ridges typically exist in the Cumberland Plateau area of Tennessee and Kentucky and in the Appalachian Mountains of Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. The wind energy potential along these ridges is thousands of megawatts; however, wind energy projects are not feasible on every ridge top.

The mountains of the Southeast are home to many other land uses, including residences, communities, the Appalachian Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and many other sensitive ecosystems and viewsheds. Wind projects must be responsibly sited, must consider all potential adverse impacts, need to be located near transmission lines, on large enough parcels of land, and near pre-existing roads in order to make the project economically feasible.

Wind Energy Impacts on Viewsheds and Property Values

In the eastern United States there is a concern that mountain wind energy will diminish the viewsheds and reduce the property values of individual homes. In general, when siting wind turbines, it is important to be conscious of sensitive viewsheds and to work cooperatively with the appropriate agencies to discuss a project in a transparent process.

A study analyzing the effects of wind turbines on nearby property values was released by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in August 2013. This study took into account the value of the property before a project was proposed and the value after a project was constructed. The study focused on the quality of the view and the distance of the project from the property. The study concluded that there was no impact to property values. It determined that wind turbines in the viewscape neither increased, nor decreased, the value of a home regardless of distance and extent of the view the home had before and after. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, this study is an important to step to understanding how wind turbines affect the majority of buyers and sellers.