Seeking reasonable placement of wind farms to protect health of nearby residents.
Citizens of Canadian and Kingfisher counties filed a class action lawsuit in United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma today to prohibit the placement of wind turbines that will harm residents.
After exhausting all local and state legislative and government resources, members of the lawsuit are seeking protection from adverse health effects, and loss of use and value of their property, by requiring wind turbines be placed a safe distance from their homes.
There are multiple wind farms planned for Kingfisher and Canadian counties consisting of more than 300 industrial wind turbines. From plaintiff Julie Harris’ land, there are 47 turbines targeted near her home with the closest planned less than one-half mile from her property. The turbines are almost 500 feet tall, equivalent to approximately five-eighths (5/8) the size of Devon Tower in downtown Oklahoma City, Okla.
“Despite working tirelessly with local officials and the wind company to request a reasonable setback of wind turbines from our property, our only recourse now is litigation,” said Terra Walker, a plaintiff and property owner in Okarche, Okla. “There are real health concerns when turbines are placed too close to homes. This is about requiring safe setbacks to protect the health and safety of our families.”
The plaintiffs are concerned about health impacts and interference in the use and enjoyment of their land. In the complaint, the plaintiffs note that wind turbines emit infra and low frequency sounds that are inaudible to the human ear, but have a long history of causing adverse effects to the human body and mind, including sleep loss, increased stress and cardiac issues. The plaintiffs are also concerned about how noise and shadow flicker emitted from rotating blades deteriorates the ability — in both children and adults — to properly think, remember, or concentrate.
“The wind farms located next to our house have ruined our health and property,” said Tammy and Rick Huffstutlar, living outside of Calumet, Okla. and in the middle of the Canadian Hills Wind Farm.
The Huffstutlars live adjacent to wind turbines and experience significant shadow flicker, noise and disruptions in air pressure, resulting in a worsening heart condition, severe headaches, and lack of sleep.
“Industrial wind energy in Oklahoma is unregulated, allowing companies to build wind farms wherever they can make deals with landowners without any required notice to those impacted,” said Brent Robinson, Oklahoma Wind Action Association (OWAA) president. “Research shows a negative impact to health for people within three miles of a turbine. Therefore, we believe a three-mile setback from property lines is necessary to protect our families.”
OWAA, along with other Oklahoma organizations such as Oklahoma Property Rights Association and Wind Waste, are combining forces to advocate for sensible laws to protect people and oversee future development in Oklahoma. The non-profit associations are concerned about the long-term impact this unregulated industry will have on property owners, and are fighting for oversight to ensure turbines are appropriately placed, operated safely, well-maintained and there is adequate funding to remove abandoned wind farms.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Terra Walker, Cheyenne Ward, Julie Harris, Janelle Grellner, Elise Kochenower, Karri Parson, Cindy Shelley, and Oklahoma Wind Action Association. The defendants are APEX Wind Construction, LLC, APEX Clean Energy, Inc., APEX Clean Energy Holdings, LLC, Kingfisher Wind, LLC, Kingfisher Wind Land Holdings, LLC, Campbell Creek Wind, LLC, and Campbell Creek Wind Transmission, LLC.
Oklahoma Wind Action Association was founded in February 2014 to protect its members from negative affects of industrial wind turbines. The organization serves more than 150 citizens in Canadian and Kingfisher counties.