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Eastern Oregon resident sues over Willow Creek wind project noise level

A Morrow County man is seeking $10 million in damages from a wind-energy company, alleging that it has operated a wind-turbine project consistently above permissible noise levels set by the state for more than four years.

The noise from Invenergy’s Willow Creek project has caused physical and emotional distress for Daniel Brian Williams, as well as interrupted his sleep and reduced the value of his property, the federal complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Pendleton alleges. The noise eventually drove out Williams who moved last year from the 209-acre ranch near Heppner where he has lived since 1997, according to a press release from his law firm.

“Invenergy came into this valley with little consideration for folks like me who were already living here,” said Williams in the press release. “The turbines they built are noisy and the effects on me have been devastating. I treasured the peaceful, quiet existence at my home.”

Invenergy did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The concerns over the project’s noise date back to 2008 when Invenergy began building its 48-turbine project, according to the complaint. The wind farm started operating in December 2008.

Neighbors including Williams started complaining about the noise levels the following month, according to the lawsuit. Invenergy’s own consultant established that the noise levels were above Oregon’s allowances, the complaint states, but Williams argues that the Chicago-based company’s proposed solutions have been inadequate and are untested.

Despite findings by the local county commission and land-use appeals panels that established the wind farm was exceeding permissible noise levels, however, officials have done nothing to curb the project’s operations, the complaint contends, forcing Williams to file the lawsuit.