Safe Setbacks at Issue in Suit over Oklahoma Wind Farm Plan

August 29, 2014

Seven central Oklahoma landowners filed a federal lawsuit against several companies planning wind farms, expressing concern for the health and safety of local residents.

The lawsuit filed in Oklahoma City by the Oklahoma Wind Action Association names several companies associated with Apex Clean Energy Inc. The Virginia-based company and its partners plan to construct a 300-megawatt project in northern Canadian County and southern Kingfisher County.

Terra Walker, an Okarche landowner involved in the lawsuit, said studies show people within three miles of a wind farm can suffer from health effects. She said the wind farm plans include 58 turbines within three miles of her home.

“Our goal is to obtain some safe setbacks from the wind turbines,” Walker said. “We just want them to be a safe distance to where our health and safety isn’t in jeopardy.”

She said litigation is the only option because there aren’t any regulations.

“We don’t necessarily want to stop the wind farm by any means. We just feel that there’s no regulation in Oklahoma right now, and the wind companies come in and place them as close as they want to your homes,” Walker said.

Those involved in the lawsuit are also requesting protection from the loss of use and value of land. They claim Apex has negotiated deals without consulting neighbors.

Kent Dougherty, director of development for Apex, told The Oklahoman he couldn’t comment on the lawsuit.

“However, Apex welcomes the opportunity to work with local communities and has a proven track record of making good-faith efforts to address community concerns,” Dougherty said. “Numerous third-party studies on the impact of wind turbines on both health and property values repeatedly demonstrate that there are no measurable impacts.”

Jeff Clark, executive director of The Wind Coalition, said the lawsuit is part of an “ongoing misinformation campaign” to stop development.

“In the absence of facts and medical research, the opponents of development, as plaintiffs, hope they can generate support for their cause with a high-profile — yet frivolous — case,” Clark said.

He said a recent study conducted by the Washington-based Energy and Policy Institute found seven out of eight U.S. court cases involving wind farm nuisances found no harm from wind energy.

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