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5/31/10 Which part of "negligently, carelessly and recklessly" don't you understand? Order in the courtroom, here comes the judge: wind farm residents file suit and want a jury trial AND Wind developers behaving badly: Mourning the presence of a level playing field for landowners


The PSC is asking for public comment on the recently approved draft rules for siting wind turbines in our state. The setback recommended in this draft is 1250 feet from non-participating homes.

CLICK HERE to get a copy of the draft siting rules approved by the commissioners on May 14th, and to find out more about the Wind Siting Council

CLICK HERE and type in docket number 1-AC-231 to read what's been posted so far.

CLICK HERE to leave a comment on the Wind Siting Council Docket

Residents sue wind companies

SOURCE: michigansthumb.com

Saturday, May 29, 2010
Tribune Staff Writer

HURON COUNTY — Citing a loss of property value and quality of life as a result of the Ubly area Michigan Wind I development, 16 Huron County residents filed a lawsuit earlier this month against the wind project’s various companies.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed May 11 in Huron County Circuit Court against John Deere Renewables, Deere & Company (John Deere), Noble Environmental Power, LLC, Michigan Wind I, LLC (Noble Thumb Windpark I) and RMT, Inc., the plaintiffs are seeking in excess of $25,000 and an injunctive relief ordering the companies to cease and desist their activities.

The defendants and plaintiffs

Plaintiffs listed on the lawsuit are David Peplinski, Marilyn Peplinski, Frank Peplinski, Georgia Peplinski, Terry Peplinski, Christine Peplinski, Curtis Watchowski, Lynda Watchowski, James Czewski, Delphine Czewski, Dennis Mausolf, Darcy Mausolf, Dale Laming, Elaine Laming, Lynn Sweeney, Pam Sweeney, Alger Nowak, Mary Nowak, Randy Weber and Angela Weber.

The majority of the plaintiffs previously filed complaints to the county regarding the Michigan Wind I development. Also, over the past year, many of them have attended county board of commissioners and planning commission meetings about this issue.

Though the complaints have been discussed in numerous meetings, there still is no complaint resolution at the county level — something that’s upset many. County officials, however, have said the board of commissioners soon will have a complaint resolution process in place.

Plaintiffs, during previous meetings, also have asked the county to amend its wind zoning ordinance so others in the future are not negatively affected as they say they have been.

According to records from the Huron County Clerk’s Office, all but four of the plaintiffs were part of a petition submitted in October 2005 that contained 1,846 signatures and asked for a review of the wind overlay zoning amendment, which was adopted by the county in the summer of 2005.

“We are simply trying to protect those people without contracts with the wind companies, those people who will not benefit in any way from the wind turbines — but who will have to live with the turbines for years to come,” said Angela Weber in a press release Residents for Sound Economics and Planning (RSEP) issued when the petition was submitted.

At the time RSEP submitted the petition to Huron County Clerk Peggy Koehler, the group claimed it was not an attempt to stop a wind park from being developed in the Ubly area. Instead, it was intended to create “better and more fair zoning for all citizens of Huron County,” according to a statement the group issued in October 2005. The issue ended up in court, as RSEP sued Koehler in November 2005 because she determined the petitions submitted by the group were inadequate. Circuit Court Judge M. Richard Knoblock ruled in favor of the county clerk.

Noble Environmental Power, LLC then proceeded with the development of Michigan Wind I, which consists of 42 turbines and encapsulates more than 150 parcels owned by 96 different landowners.

The project was sold to John Deere Wind Energy in October 2008, and the park officially went into commercial operation a few months later.

That’s when the plaintiffs state the quality of their life and property values began diminishing.

Count I: Private nuisance

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim they have property rights and privileges with respect to the use and enjoyment of their property, and the defendants interfered with those rights by creating, through the operation of the wind farm, “significant and material intrusions upon the plaintiffs’ property.”

Intrusions detailed in the lawsuit include: • Low frequency noise and subaudible infrasound and/or impulse noise created by and emitted from the wind turbines, which range as close as 1,100 and 1,700 feet away from each plaintiff’s home.

• Sustained and highly disturbing audible noise created by the wind turbines.

• Amplitude modulation in both audible and sub-audible frequency ranges emitted from the turbines.

• A flicker/strobe light effect that covers the plaintiffs’ properties when sunlight passes through the rotating turbine blades.

The lawsuit states the interference and invasions caused by the conduct of the wind energy companies was either intentional and unreasonable, or unintentional and negligent conduct.

“The intrusions caused by the turbines in the wind farm cause plaintiffs actual physical discomforts and would cause such physical discomfort to a person of ordinary sensibilities,” the lawsuit states.

Physical harm and negative health effects listed in the lawsuit included: Inability to sleep and repeated awakening during sleep, headaches, dizziness, stress and tension, extreme fatigue, diminished ability to concentrate, nausea, and other physiological and cognitive effects.

The lawsuit notes the symptoms experienced by David and Marilyn Peplinski’s family forced them to rent an apartment away from the wind farm in order to avoid the adverse health effects.

“Despite the conditions caused by the continued operation of the wind farm and the resulting health conditions suffered by the plaintiffs, John Deere, John Deere Renewables and Michigan Wind I continue to operate and/or profit from the wind farm,” the lawsuit states.

Count II: Public nuisance

“Based on the aforementioned allegations, the actions of (the defendants) constitute an unreasonable interference with a common right enjoyed by the general public, including plaintiffs,” the lawsuit states. “Said actions resulted in the existence or creation of a dangerous condition to plaintiffs and other members of the general public and further resulted in significant harm to plaintiffs.”

In the portion of the lawsuit alleging the local wind park is a public nuisance, the lawsuit states the plaintiffs suffered harm and personal injuries different from the harm suffered by the general public, specifically, the increased harm to their health and well being that resulted from the close proximity of the turbines to their primary residences.

“The actions of (the defendants) further created a nuisance in fact, which was either intentional or negligent, by causing a hazardous or dangerous situation,” the lawsuit states.

Count III: Negligent design of wind farm

The lawsuit claims the wind companies had a duty to use reasonable care in the design and construction of the wind farm, specifically in relation to selecting turbine locations.

That duty was breached by the defendants, the lawsuit claims, because the companies ignored available data regarding the probability of negative health effects associated with placing the turbines in close proximity to the plaintiffs’ homes.

Also, the lawsuit references a noise assessment included in the project’s site plan review application that estimated only audible noise levels within the dBA range, and did not consider low frequency noise or impulse noise.

The lawsuit cites portions of the noise assessment stating, “in general, it is undesirable for any home, particularly that of a non-participant, to be on or inside a 45 dBA contour,” and “the probability of complaints from any project opponent exposed to this project noise level would be extremely high.”

Turbine noise measured at four of the plaintiffs’ homes ranged from 45 to 51 dBA, according to results from a noise study paid for by John Deere last fall that are included in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the wind companies “negligently, carelessly and recklessly” sited the wind turbines in a way that increased the negative health effects and other damages. Other allegations state the wind companies negligently, carelessly and recklessly failed to construct the turbines at a safe distance from the plaintiffs’ residences, and to exercise reasonable care to prevent an unsafe condition and unreasonable risk of harm.

Count IV: Negligent misrepresentation

The lawsuit claims the wind companies made false representations in board of commissioner and planning commissioner meetings and public hearings when company representatives said the wind farm’s operations would not result in a noise nuisance or cause adverse health effects to adjacent landowners.

“(The defendants) were negligent in making these misrepresentations because, as the parties seeking approval to construct a wind turbine farm in Huron County, they had a duty to use reasonable care to provide Huron County and its citizens with both accurate and complete information,” the lawsuit states.

The plaintiffs claim the wind companies provided inaccurate and/or incomplete information about the audible turbine noise levels, and no information about low frequency noise, infrasound and/or impulse noise emitted from the turbines.

Huron County relied on the information from the wind companies when approving the project, the lawsuit states.

“(The defendants) should have known that the information it supplied to Huron County would directly impact the residents of Huron County, including plaintiffs,” the lawsuit adds.

Suit does not name any government entity

According to the Huron County Clerk’s Office, there have been no lawsuits filed against any government entities relating to any Thumb area wind park.

In the lawsuit against the wind companies, the plaintiffs are being represented by Craig W. Horn, of Braun Kendrick Finkbeiner, P.L.C. in Saginaw. Despite numerous attempts, Horn was unavailable for comment as of press time.

Ken Golden, Deere & Company Strategic Public Relations director, on Friday told the Tribune: “By company policy, Deere & Company does not make comment on pending litigation.”

The defendants have 28 days from the May 11 filing date to respond to the complaint, and then a hearing date will be scheduled, according to the Huron County Circuit Court Office.

The lawsuit states the plaintiffs have demanded a jury trial.



The following is a candid quote from an article in Renewable Energy World Magazine which outlines current difficulties faced by wind developers.

 Wind Farms: Are All the Best Spots Taken?

 “Another problem is that landowners have become increasingly savvy about the value of their property.

Farmers are driving harder bargains with wind developers for purchase or lease of their land.

A decade ago 'nobody knew what a fair price was, but as long it was not a dollar less than the guy down the road, they thought it was fair.

Now with the internet and more awareness of what these terms and conditions are, it has leveled the playing field', said Jim Tynion, a partner with the law firm Foley & Lardner, where he is chair of the Energy Industry Team.”


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