A jury decided Tuesday that FPL Energy did not create a public nuisance for a group of rural Taylor County landowners whose property neighbors wind turbines at the company’s Horse Hollow wind farm.
However, one of the plaintiffs said they plan to appeal the ruling.
Eleven jurors serving on a jury in the 42nd District Court signed the verdict form, indicating an 11-1 split favoring the Florida Power & Light affiliate. In Texas district courts, civil trial verdicts require the agreement of at least 10 jurors.
Trey Cox of Dallas, attorney for FPL, said ”hard evidence” convinced the jury that the wind turbines of the Horse Hollow project do not make noise that is an ”unreasonable interference” with neighboring property owners’ use and enjoyment of their property.
Cox said he also believes that jurors took into account the benefits and promise of wind energy to the state and nation.
Dale Rankin said the plaintiffs will appeal to the 11th Court of Appeals in Eastland.
”Our motto is going to be ‘Remember the Alamo!,”’ Rankin said. ”For Texas to win its independence, it had to lose the Alamo first. But then it won at San Jacinto. We’re definitely headed for San Jacinto.”
Plaintiffs attorney Steve Thompson said the verdict was the first of its kind in Texas.
”This was just the first salvo,” he said.
Thompson said he had filed lawsuits contesting proposed wind farms in Jack and Cooke counties in north Texas.
For two weeks, the opposing sides argued over issues such as the levels of noise that constitute interference with a neighbor’s use and enjoyment of property; whether FPL’s wind turbines at times created noises rivaling a B-1 bomber’s; and the amount and cause of any property devaluation near the wind farm.
The lawsuit was filed in February 2005 as FPL Energy geared up to build the first phase of the Horse Hollow project. That project, which followed the same company’s Callahan Divide project, when its third phase was completed this fall, had become what’s billed as the world’s largest wind farm.
The wind farm stretches from Taylor County into Nolan County, and boasts an electricity generating capacity of 735 megawatts. The variability of wind speeds holds actual electricity production to a minor fraction of that capacity.
Plaintiffs opposing FPL Energy’s Horse Hollow wind farm
Dale and Stephanie Rankin of the Coronado’s Camp area; Walter and Debra McGee of Ovalo; Jim and Luann Blay of Buffalo Gap; Steve and Linda Brasher of Ovalo; Professional Health Services, Inc. (also known as Ken and Sherri Lain of
Tuscola), and Sherri Lain; Greg McEachern of Abilene; Patricia LaPoint of Tuscola; Stephanye Sayles Taylor of Tuscola; and Convest Corporation of Louisiana, also known as John Connolly.
By Jerry Daniel Reed / firstname.lastname@example.org
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