State Sen. Frank Lasee is working on legislation that would make it easier for people who say they have been harmed by industrial wind turbines to sue for damages.
The bill being crafted by the De Pere Republican would allow anyone harmed by industrial wind turbines to sue the owner of the turbine and the owner of the land where the turbine is located. They could seek damages for loss of property value, cost of moving, medical expenses, pain and suffering, attorneys fees and any other loss as a result of an industrial wind turbine too close to their home or property.
The senator is specifically concerned with the effects of the Shirley Wind Farm in Glenmore in southern Brown County, where residents have complained about ear infections, heart palpitations, muscle and joint pain, malaise and several other symptoms. Approximately 50 individuals have submitted affidavits to the Public Service Commission describing those symptoms.
Rob Kovach, a spokesman for Lasee, said no one is currently pursuing legal action, but the senator has worked closely with three families who have left their homes in Glenmore as a result of poor health they say were caused by low frequency noise generated by the turbines.
“They could (sue) before, but this is more specific … saying the thing was sited legally is not a defense,” Kovach said.
If Lasee’s bill becomes law, people who pursue legal action still will need to prove that the wind turbines caused their health problems, said Katie Nekola, general counsel for Clean Wisconsin, an environmental group that advocates clean energy options, including wind turbines.
The PSC last month reject the proposed Highland Wind Farm in St. Croix County due to concerns it would violate noise standards.
“(It) would be much more difficult than simply suing somebody,” Nekola said. “For example, even though the wind opponents in the Highland case tried their best, as all three PSC Commissioners noted, there was no evidence that the wind turbines at Shirley caused the health problems of those residents.”
In tests conducted at Shirley Wind Farm in December, scientists did not find a correlation that the low frequency noise was responsible for the residents’ health effects, but recommended further testing at the site. Tests from the Shirley site were used to determine the feasibility of the Highland farm.
The Public Service Commission has not concluded there is a link between adverse health effects and wind turbines.
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