Land owners file class action against Apex to prevent wind farm construction
OKLAHOMA CITY (Legal Newsline) – Oklahoma Wind Action Association, on behalf of seven land owners, is suing Apex Wind Construction LLC in order to prevent wind turbines from being built near their homes.
Terra Walker, Cheyenne Ward, Julie Harris, Janelle Grellner, Elisa Kay Kochenower, Karri Parson and Cindy Shelley claim the defendants’ planned wind farm projects create a nuisance, devalue their homes and can adversely affect their health, according to a complaint filed Aug. 27 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.
The lawsuit was brought against Apex Clean Energy Inc., Apex Clean Energy Holdings LLC, Kingfisher Wind LLC, Kingfisher Wind Land Holdings LLC, Kingfisher Transmission LLC, Campbell Creek Wind LLC and Campbell Creek Wind Transmission LLC.
The plaintiffs all live within three miles of the planned wind farm and own property within the “no-build” zone of the planned locations of the wind turbines, the suit says.
Under current Oklahoma and federal law, wind energy production is essentially an unregulated industry, according to the suit. Wind energy is produced through the use of large Industrial Wind Energy Conversion Systems that consist of three blades connected to a generator that sits atop a tower.
The plaintiffs claim the defendants are scheduled to complete financing on the first phase of their wind farm in Canadian and Kingfisher counties in October and intend to begin construction on the first phase of the wind farm in early 2015.
As a result, Industrial Wind Turbines, by their own safety standards, create a de facto “no-build” zone in a 1,500 radius surrounding the turbine, according to the suit. In many instances, this “no-build” zone overlaps with the property of landowners who have no agreement with the defendants, the suit says.
“This invasion of plaintiffs’ right to use and enjoy their property requires defendants to obtain an easement from the landowner that restricts their ability to construct upon any property within the [1,500] feet of the Industrial Wind Turbine,” the complaint states. “Otherwise, defendants’ Industrial Wind Turbines will interfere with plaintiffs’ ability to use their property as they wish safely.”
The plaintiffs claim the defendants have undertaken no effort to obtain such easements and the plaintiffs will be left with “a cloud upon their titles.”
Within the past several years, the defendants constructed the Canadian Hills Wind Farm between the City of Okarche, Okla. and Calumet, Okla. in Northwestern Canadian County, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs claim the noise deteriorates the ability — in both children and adults — to properly think, remember or concentrate during exposure.
The infrasonic noise generated by IWECS also causes sleeping disorders, headaches, mood disorders, tinnitus and vestibular problems, according to the suit.
“The rotation of IWECS blades causes flickering of sunlight, commonly referred to as ‘shadow flicker,’” the complaint states. “Exposure to such ‘shadow flicker’ has been reported to cause seizures in certain individuals.”
The plaintiffs claims additionally, shadow flicker further enhances stress-induced health effects, such as those caused by infrasonic noise from IWECS.
In December, officials in the nearby city of Piedmont approved an agreement with Apex to settle a heated, year-long fight to block wind farm construction near the city.
Officials in Kingfisher are also negotiating with Apex on a similar setback agreement.
The plaintiffs are seeking class certification, the court to enjoin the defendants from constructing a nuisance that would injure them and award them their costs and disbursements. They are being represented by Jason B. Aamodt, Deanna L. Hartley, Krystina E. Phillips and Dallas L.D. Strimple of Indian and Environmental Law Group PLLC.
The case is assigned to District Judge Tim Leonard.
Oklahoma is the country’s fourth-largest wind-power producer.
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma case number: 5:14-cv-00914
From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at email@example.com.