Whether or not a wind farm near Kingfisher is a nuisance to some neighbors will be before a federal judge Tuesday in Oklahoma City.
U.S. District Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti will hear arguments in a bench trial against Kingfisher Wind LLC, a unit of Apex Clean Energy Inc. The company was sued by the Oklahoma Wind Action Association, a group of landowners that wants turbines to be placed at least two miles from their homes.
The lawsuit was filed in August 2014 before construction started on the wind farm. The 149-turbine project in southern Kingfisher County and northern Canadian County was completed earlier this year.
Landowners with the Oklahoma Wind Action Association said noise from the development has caused adverse health effects on some residents. They also said some have been affected by “shadow flicker” from turbine blades during parts of the day.
“After exhausting all attempts to work with Kingfisher Wind and local government, this lawsuit is our last opportunity to protect our families from long-term damage,” Terra Walker, one of the landowners who filed the lawsuit, said in a statement. “Our experience is proof that Oklahoma needs to implement safe setbacks of industrial wind turbines from homes.”
In court documents, Kingfisher Wind denied the claims and said nearby landowners who have leased their land to the project haven’t complained of health issues related to the development.
Attorneys for Kingfisher Wind tried unsuccessfully to stop two experts hired by the association from testifying at the bench trial. They said Michael Nissenbaum, a radiologist, wasn’t qualified to testify on the health effects of turbines. They also said sound readings by an acoustical engineer, Richard James, weren’t reliable.
DeGiusti disagreed with the wind farm’s attorneys, saying since it was a bench trial and not before a jury, he would be “able to distinguish between proper expert opinion and inadmissible testimony.”
The association initially filed complaints of anticipatory trespass and anticipatory nuisance against Kingfisher Wind. DeGiusti dismissed the anticipatory trespass claim in June 2015.
The wind farm is owned by First Reserve Corp. Apex developed the project and operates it for First Reserve. The electricity is sold to Morgan Stanley Capital Group Inc., which has an agreement to resell it to Gulf Power Co., a Florida utility.
The hearing is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday in federal court in Oklahoma City.
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