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Bill would make it easier to sue wind farms

Wisconsin lawmakers are scheduled to take up a bill next week that would make it easier for people to sue for perceived health symptoms and property value impacts they attribute to wind turbines. According to Midwest Energy News, anyone living within a close distance of a wind turbine could sue for damages related to physical or emotional suffering, loss of property value, moving expenses, or lost profits, and the wind farm owner or operator would be forced to pick up the tab for the plaintiffs’ attorney fees.

The measure would also prohibit as a defense the fact that a project has already been legally permitted to operate by the state or a local government.

The idea was introduced last spring by Sen. Frank Lasee of Green Bay. He says his bill will enable anyone who is harmed by 500-foot industrial wind turbines the ability to sue the wind tower owner, as well as the owner of the land on which the tower is located, for loss of property value, cost of moving, medical expenses, pain and suffering, attorney fees, and any other loss as a result of the industrial wind turbine that is too close to their home or property.

Opponents say the bill would effectively put an end to wind development in Wisconsin and potentially drive up electricity rates in the state.

Currently, Wisconsin has uniform rules that limit local governments from adopting wind turbine setbacks larger than 1,250 feet.

The labor and judiciary committee will hear the bill next week.