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Keyser resident wants wind farm stopped

A Mineral County businessman wants a federal judge to pull the plug on a controversial wind farm he says is thwarting his efforts to sell homebuyers on a proposed housing development less than two miles away from its turbines.

Mike Haywood of the Mike Haywood Group in Keyser says noise and vibrations from 23 Mitsubishi 2.4-megawatt turbines used at Pinnacle Wind are interfering with his ability to find buyers for his property.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Martinsburg, alleges low-frequency pulsations from the turbines, while always present, “are at times more severely debilitating, causing core pulsations. At times these symptoms are so intense that (potential buyers) cannot escape the adverse effects … without leaving their property.”

It also claims higher frequency turbine noises “depending upon the configuration of the blades and turbine are of such an intense and consistent sound or vibration as to cause annoyance, other mental and emotional disturbances and physical pain” that potential buyers can’t overlook.

The suit suggests Pinnacle and its owners “should have known that the same wind turbines had never been used around homes” and to operate them without a buffering system or other design strategy in place was “inappropriate, negligent and reckless.”

The wind farm, located at New Page, which is south of Keyser, has a 55.2-megawatt generating capacity with the capacity to power nearly 12,000 homes at the average West Virginia residential electricity use of about 1,200 kilowatt-hours/month.

The electricity generated by Pinnacle, however, is being sold in Maryland – about two-thirds of it powers Maryland’s Department of General Services and the rest goes to the University of Maryland system.

The wind farm has been under fire since February, when Keyser resident Richard Braithwaite complained to the Public Service Commission of West Virginia that the turbine’s rumblings made it difficult to eat or sleep, saying the noises were excessive and sound variously like “a train coming through (your) yard” or a “large airplane circling (your) home” and sunlight flickering through the moving blades were triggering migraines.

His complaint, however, was dismissed months later because the PSC’s own siting order didn’t specifically prohibit noises, flickering light effects or other negative impacts from the turbines, “so the commission does not possess statutory authority to address the issues raised by” Braithwaite.

Haywood’s suit is one of 32 filed against Pinnacle in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia within the past 60 days alleging the turbine noise and vibrations are impacting property values as well as people’s mental and emotional well-being.

Charleston attorney Henry Wood III, who represents Haywood and other Pinnacle plaintiffs, could not be reached for comment.