Wind turbines draw opposition in Alabama; residents file legal action to block project - Rome News-Tribune: Local

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Wind turbines draw opposition in Alabama; residents file legal action to block project

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Posted: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 12:00 pm

A Texas-based green energy firm is running into some serious opposition to its bid to build a series of eight wind turbines in Cherokee County, Ala.

Pioneer Green Energy is actually proposing two wind farms in Northeast Alabama, one in Etowah County along with the Cherokee County site.

A group of citizens who oppose the project filed suit in the Circuit Court of Cherokee County to block the project.

The defendants include Pioneer Green Energy, Noccalula Wind I LLC and property owners, alleged to include a couple of Floyd County residents, brothers Edmund Cash and Edward Cash, along with another brother Max G. Cash who lives in Alabama.

Geneva Shaver, J. Dwight Jones, Lathan Lancaster, Newman Mackey and James D. Estes are listed as plaintiffs. Shaver is the wife of Cherokee County Sheriff Jeff Shaver.

Edward Cash said Tuesday that he was not aware of the suit.

The Shinbone Wind Energy Center was originally planned to come online during the first half of 2014.

Pioneer Green Energy projects that eight wind turbines would be able to supply 18.4 megawatts of electricity to the Tennessee Valley Authority network. That would be sufficient to operate approximately half of the homes in Cherokee County.

The plaintiffs allege that the Cash defendants “are enriching themselves by allowing the giant wind turbines to be placed on their property, but they are destroying the scenic beauty of the area surrounding the property, diminishing the property values in the area and destroying the way of life of the surrounding property owners.”

Plaintiffs say the turbines will cause constant noise, shadow flicker — when the sun strikes the turbine blades at different angles — and pose a danger from broken blades, lightning strikes and collapsing towers.

The complaint also alleges that the electricity that will be produced will be less than the power produced by existing coal and gas fired generating plants.

A study performed by researchers at Jacksonville State University in September 2012 concluded that the Cherokee County project would generate between $285,000 and $300,000 in additional tax revenue for Cherokee County annually. However, the County Commission adopted a resolution in opposition to the project earlier this month.

The Noccalula Wind Energy Center would be located closer to Gadsden and include up to 40 turbines, capable of producing 80 megawatts of energy. That project, which is also the subject of a lawsuit filed in Etowah County, has been slated to come on line in the middle of 2014.

In a press release from Pioneer Green, co-founder and Vice President David Savage said the two projects would increase energy independence and help move the country away from unstable foreign energy supplies. “It will also reduce Alabama’s dependence on other sources of energy that cause pollution and rely heavily on fuel from others states,” Savage said. “Instead, Alabama will be able to diversify its energy sources by adding an inexhaustible and clean source of energy found right in its own backyard.”

Green Power EMC put a meteorological tower atop Rocky Mountain in Floyd County and gathered data on wind energy production for a full year and abandoned the idea of a wind farm there a couple of years later.

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