Garden — The first wind farm in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has reduced the property values of nearby residents, ruined people’s sleep and put bats, eagles and other birds at risk, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.
Eleven people and a group representing others who own property are suing Heritage Sustainable Energy and the U.S. government, seeking to block any expansion and require more study on the impact of 14 turbines near the village of Garden in Delta County’s Garden Peninsula, which juts into northern Lake Michigan.
“In order to induce the support of local officials … Heritage represented that the wind turbines would be quiet — no louder than a refrigerator — and that people living nearby would not even know they were there. Those representations were false,” the lawsuit states.
A message seeking comment was left Tuesday at Heritage. In September, the Traverse City-based company said its consultants found no significant impact on birds.
The lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in Marquette includes letters between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Heritage about the agency’s concern about birds. The department said it doesn’t have authority to approve wind projects, although it warned that the owner could be liable for any violations of federal wildlife law.
Attorneys Susan Hlywa Topp and F. Michelle Halley, however, claim the government could have done more to protect eagles and other endangered birds.
Heritage also operates a wind farm in Huron County and another in parts of Missaukee, Osceola and Wexford counties. Both are in the Lower Peninsula.