Sen. Alexander: Enough With the Hot Air, Stop Bashing Wind Power

Guest Blog | May 19, 2016 | Energy Policy

Yet again, Tennessee senior senator, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R), has channelled his inner Don Quixote and is tilting at windmills – well, wind turbines to be exact.  Just this week he took to the Senate floor in Washington, D.C. to bash wind energy using his same old outdated arguments. Sen. Alexander has now set his sites on a proposed wind farm in Cumberland County, TN.

In his latest anti-wind campaign, Sen. Alexander used a photo of a poorly planned and outdated Palm Springs, CA wind project to bolster his claim that the proposed Crab Orchard Wind Project, pursued by Apex Clean Energy, would ruin the scenic views and environment in Cumberland County. But where is Sen. Alexander’s outrage with actual projects in Tennessee that are currently ruining communities’ scenic views and threatening the surrounding environment???

Just next door to Cumberland County is Roane County, home to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston coal plant. Kingston has two massive smokestacks that can be seen from miles and miles away and are, in fact, no longer even operational because they have outdated air pollution controls. Not to mention, the already devastating damage the coal plant has wreaked on the surrounding community thanks to the 2008 Kingston coal ash disaster.

TVA's Kingston coal plant in Roane County, TN


In a press statement put out yesterday, Sen. Alexander proudly states “If there is one thing Tennesseans agree on, it is pride in the natural beauty of our state….We should not allow anyone to destroy the environment in the name of saving it.” Yet, Sen. Alexander is a strong proponent of risky nuclear energy and conveniently ignores both the visual impact of nuclear plants and the significant threats to the surrounding community and environment in the event of a nuclear disaster.

TVA's Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Rhea County, TN


Just below Cumberland County is Rhea County, home to TVA’s Watts Bar nuclear plant. Sen. Alexander has applauded TVA for finally finishing construction at its 30+ year old Watts Bar nuclear plant, despite the fact the project was completed after spending went far over budget. Conveniently, Sen. Alexander ignores the fact that the nuclear industry has been the beneficiary of federal financial support far longer than renewable energy and is “encouraged by billions in wasteful taxpayer subsidies” – words Sen. Alexander used to bash wind energy but more accurately describes wasteful spending on risky nuclear.

SACE polling has already shown that Tennesseans vastly support clean energy –  in fact, 83% support increasing the use of renewable energy like wind and solar power in Tennessee! While it doesn’t seem likely that Sen. Alexander will ever change his mind about wind energy, we remain hopeful that Tennesseans will be able to see through Sen. Alexander’s hot air and educate themselves about the benefits of truly clean energy, like wind, solar and energy efficiency, and the risks of dirty energy, like nuclear and coal.

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