HEFLIN – Officials with an Oklahoma-based company that had considered a wind turbine farm in Cleburne County are no longer planning to build in Alabama after pushback from homeowners near the site and scant support from government officials, the company’s attorney said Tuesday.
“The adjoining states have been very welcoming,” said Kirk Tracey, general counsel for Nations Energy Solutions. “We’re going to go play elsewhere.”
The company’s decision put an end to a lawsuit filed in Cleburne County in June 2014. Homeowners and residents near the potential site on Turkey Heaven Mountain had sought a permanent injunction barring Nations Energy Solutions from building wind turbines in the county. It also included any resident who was willing to have the wind turbines built on their properties, but most residents working with the company pulled out of the project after the lawsuit was filed, leaving the company as the only defendant.
The plaintiffs say in the suit that they didn’t want the wind turbines near their property because they thought it would decrease their property values, harm local wildlife and make their homes less comfortable because of shadow flicker and reflections. The lawsuit also cited concern about so-called “wind turbine syndrome” – a general list of symptoms including anxiety, sleeplessness and headaches. The condition has not been proven to exist, according to a 2012 review of studies published by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nations Energy Solutions had filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying the claims were speculative. The motion was denied on Friday. That got the company’s leaders asking why they were in the lawsuit, Tracey said.
Tracey said the company hasn’t worked in Cleburne County for six months since the leases with homeowners for the test equipment it had on the mountain expired. The company has no plans in the foreseeable future to return, he said, so, the company heads decided to approach the plaintiffs about ending the lawsuit.
“Basically, both sides said there was no reason to fight now,” Tracey said.
Attorney Chad Allen Hopper, who represented homeowners and residents near the proposed site of the windfarm, said his clients are pleased. He said he believes his clients’ willingness to fight the construction did have something to do with the change.
The homeowners and residents filed the lawsuit, attended County Commission meetings to let their feelings be known and lobbied in Montgomery, Hopper said.
“I think it’s a credit to their tenacity,” Hopper said.