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Jury selection under way in wind farm lawsuit  

Opposing attorneys in a lawsuit against a Taylor County wind energy farm expect to finish selecting a jury this morning and then make opening arguments and call witnesses for testimony.

The suit was filed in February 2005 against Florida Power & Light and affiliated companies by rural Taylor County residents who claim the Horse Hollow wind energy farm damaged their properties.

The lawsuit seeks to stop the project – or, failing that, to recover damages.

The lead plaintiffs are Dale and Stephanie Rankin and Kenneth and Sherri Lane. Defendants include FPL and affiliates including FPL Energy; more than 20 landowners who leased land for wind turbines; and consultants Turner Biological of Buffalo Gap and Hilliard Energy, which has offices in several Texas cities.

The lawsuit was filed as FPL was launching the first phase of what now is the world’s largest wind farm, stretching over much of the west half of Taylor County into eastern Nolan County. The completed farm consists of 421 turbines with a maximum generating capacity of 735 megawatts. Because the wind seldom blows at optimum energy-generating speed, the turbines’ electricity output is far less than maximum capacity.

Dale Rankin, who lives in Elm Valley near Coronado’s Camp, has compared the noise made by the turbines to the roar of an interstate highway. The mammoth towers now spoil what was a scenic view of surrounding hills, and constantly blinking red lights are visible anytime he steps outdoors at night, he wrote in a letter to the Reporter-News.

Taylor County commissioners provided FPL a partial 10-year property tax abatement for the project, based on an expected benefit to the county’s economic development.

Houston attorneys Steven Thompson and Marcus Adrogue represent the plaintiffs. The defendants’ attorneys are Alan Carmichael of Sweetwater, Trey Cox and Jeremy Fielding of Dallas and David Markarian of Miami, Fla.

By Jerry Daniel Reed / reedj@reporternews.com

reporter-news.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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