5/4/10 DOUBLE FEATURE: Are wind turbines good for ag land? The Madison newspaper says yes, the Columbia County farmer says no. AND Don't tell it to the jury, here's your money, now keep quiet about wind turbine noise
WIND FARM WILL BE INVASIVE TO FARMS
SOURCE Wisconsin State Journal, host.madison.com
June 3, 2010
Regarding the State Journal editorial on May 25 titled “Wind turbines fit with farms”: As a resident of the town of Scott in northeast Columbia County, I can tell you the Glacier Hills Energy Park is not like the wind project at Montfort in Iowa County, which you featured in a photograph.
When Florida Power and Light first proposed a wind farm to our family, the idea was to place a row of turbines on an area we call the high line. This sounded like an idea worth pursuing. Seven years later, with WE Energies in control, the project has 90 very large turbines in a scattered pattern that are invasive to everyone’s environment in this area.
Contrary to what you think, there will be a large amount of very productive farm land out of production, or production will be compromised.
I heard very compelling testimony at a PSC hearing against this turbine arrangement. After the hearing, I felt the PSC would never allow this project. The evidence appears to have been disregarded.
It is alarming what a large company with government support can do to ordinary people. As a farming family, we could have turbines on our property in the future, but we now doubt if the money is worth the cost.
Sharon Prochnow, Cambria
COUPLE SETTLE LAWSUIT ON WIND TURBINE NOISE
By Kay Stephens and David Hurst
June 4, 2010
HOLLIDAYSBURG - The lawsuit between a Blair County couple and a company that operates Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm has been settled.
"All I can say about the resolution is that it's confidential," Pittsburgh attorney Bradley S. Tupi said Thursday. "I can't talk about the settlement."
Tupi represented Todd and Jill Stull, the Portage RD couple who sued in May 2008, complaining that the wind turbine noise had destroyed their quality of life.
They moved to the Juniata Township farm in 1992, and the turbine farm, which borders their property and spans five townships, went into operation in 2007.
The court case between the Stulls and Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm LLC was on track for a jury trial in July before Blair County Judge Daniel Milliron.
Tupi recently filed the decision on the settlement, with no details, at the Blair County Courthouse.
Allegheny Ridge attorney Jason Richey, who has been contesting the complaints and challenging the Stulls' requests for information, filed nothing at the courthouse regarding the settlement.
Richey and the Stulls did not return phone calls for comment.
Everyone involved in the case has agreed to the confidentiality clause, Tupi said.
The Portage Township supervisors were aware of the settlement and its confidentiality clause.
"The township didn't have to pay anything," Supervisor Kenneth Trimbath said. "This was between [Allegheny Ridge] and the Stulls."
The township paid about $420 in legal fees to attorney Walter Wall in connection with the lawsuit. It called the money well spent.
"We had our lawyers involved to keep us out of it," township Manager Bruce Brunett said, "And it worked."
Juniata Township supervisors previously tried to help resolve the Stulls' complaint by working with the wind farm operators and then by hiring an independent company to measure the turbine noise.
But after the study came back showing the wind turbine noise lower than levels permitted by ordinance, solicitor Michael Routch advised supervisors that the township was not in a position to do more.
Other Juniata Township residents, in addition to the Stulls, have complained about turbine noise from the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm.
"Tell them to contact me," Tupi said.
SOME BACKGROUND ON THE LAWSUIT:
Wind experts duped local officials, Blue Knob couple’s lawsuit claims
December 24, 2008
HOLLIDAYSBURG — New documents filed in an ongoing civil lawsuit by a Portage-area couple against the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm say that wind energy experts duped local officials into believing the turbine sound was insignificant.
Todd and Jill Stull of the Blue Knob area say that developer Gamesa Energy USA and owner Babcock & Brown misled local officials by supporting development of an ordinance addressing higher noise levels.
The Stulls filed an amended suit Tuesday. The ordinance establishes a maximum sound level of 45 decibels and does not address the lower frequency noises, including turbine vibration that is said to cause health and other problems suffered by the Stulls.
Mrs. Stull, holding a bottle of water inside her home, can feel the turbines’ vibrations throughout her hand, their lawyer said.
Nine of the 40 windmills in Phase One of the planned three-phase wind farm are within a mile of the Stulls’ home, which is situated where the Portage, Juniata and Greenfield township lines converge.
Three years ago, ordinances established that turbines must be a minimum 2,000 feet from residences and not exceed a noise level of 45 decibels. They were adopted by Portage, Washington and Cresson townships, Cambria County, and Juniata and Greenfield townships, Blair County.
The Stulls filed the civil suit in April and, earlier this month, while a Blair judge kept the lawsuit intact, he dismissed several counts, including one claim that Gamesa created a public nuisance.
He allowed to stand a claim that Allegheny Ridge created a private nuisance.
But Pittsburgh Bradley Tupi, representing the Stulls, was told by Judge Daniel Milliron to provide additional evidence in order for a fraudulent misrepresentation claim to stand.
In the amendment, Tupi claimed the companies knew the turbines would be noisy and failed to tell local officials – whom he said were depending on the wind companies for guidance in developing local laws.
“Brian Lammers and/or other Allegheny representatives told the Portage Township officials that the wind turbines would be quiet,” Tupi said in the lawsuit, referring to a May 2005 conversation with then-Supervisors James Decort and Richard Olshavsky.
“Lammers told Portage Township officials that there would be no noise or minimal noise from the wind turbines,” Tupi said in the document.
The Stulls said the turbines have had a significantly negative impact on their sleep, health, quality of life and enjoyment of their 100-acre property purchased in 1992.
They describe the sound from the equipment as a “whooshing” and “screeching.’’
Lammers told officials the windmill noise would be equivalent to a refrigerator.
Representatives from Babcock & Brown and Gamesa could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday. In the past, Gamesa officials have said they would not comment on the lawsuit.
HAVE YOU REACHED OUT AND TOUCHED YOUR PSC TODAY?
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.