Crab Orchard in Crossville, Tenn., will become the site of the state's largest wind farm when Charlottesville, Va.,-based Apex Clean Energy completes construction of 20 to 23 wind turbines by the end of 2017.
The project, announced Tuesday, represents an investment of more than $100 million into Cumberland County and is expected to produce up to 71 MW of power.
"This represents a new partnership," said Mark Goodwin, president of Apex Clean Energy. "I appreciate the vision that they [leaders with Cumberland County, Crab Orchard, Crossville and the Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce] have, and we want to deliver on all the attributes that we've talked about with our wind farm."
The project began several years ago when Apex approached Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr. about placing testing equipment in the area to determine if a wind farm would be feasible in the area.
"Tennessee has not traditionally been a state that has a lot of wind energy production in it, but Crab Orchard wind will be a 71 MW, $100 million project," Goodwin said. "That has been enabled by the advancements in technology over the years. The wind resource in Crab Orchard is excellent, so we will be able to deliver very cost-effective electricity without comparison."
Wind turbines have become more efficient and able to generate larger amounts of energy. The Crab Orchard wind farm will be a state-of-the-art project.
"When we build this, Cumberland County will be at the cutting edge of generating clean energy in the future," Goodwin said.
The project will be constructed on private land that will be leased from owners. The site was described as being land that is mostly forested but with some small quarrying operations in some areas. It is behind the Franklin Limestone quarry location, but turbines will be visible from Interstate 40, something local leaders praised as helping to spread the word about clean energy generation in the county.
The project area will encompass about 1,800 acres, but only about 50 acres will be used by the project. The 25-year lease would continue to allow the current land use to continue.
The next steps include applying for a National Environmental Policy Act permit. So far, project manager Harry Snyder doesn't see a lot of stumbling blocks to the project.
Actual construction would take roughly nine months. During that time, 50 jobs would be created, with five to 15 full-time permanent jobs once the facility is complete.
The project would have a capacity of 71 MW, which is enough to power 20,000 homes every year. The energy would be tied to the national interconnection electric grid through the Tennessee Valley Authority transmission lines.