MARLOW, Okla. – Aaron Bratcher can remember growing up near the Grady-Stephens county line.
He remembers the quiet nights and how his children wandered across the street to pick blackberries.
Things have changed.
“It’s not country anymore. It’s not quiet,” he said, standing in the shadow of his new next-door neighbors. “You can’t have a peaceful evening anymore.”
Not since the newest residents moved in, just a stone’s throw from his porch.
Bratcher first saw the wind turbines on the horizon last summer.
This spring, they moved closer, bringing a substation just beyond the fencing of his front yard.
“It’s right in front of my house. Listen to the noise,” he said, motioning to the construction site behind him. “You wake up with it and go to bed with it. It’s constant. I mean, if I wanted to live by a substation, I would have built one in front of the house.”
At first, Bratcher considered sticking it out, in the home he’s had since the early 1990s.
He continued to work his farming and ranching businesses on 520 acres of land east of Marlow, before realizing the noise and the irritation was too much.
“You wake up every morning to beep beep beep and all this noise, and you come home and it’s noisy until dark,” he said. “We’re selling out. We’re going someplace else.”
Bratcher tried contacting the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and the Department of Environmental Quality for help but to no avail.
An OCC spokesman tells NewsChannel 4 no state agency has jurisdiction over where turbines and substations are placed.
Though energy companies have to file paperwork, there is nothing illegal about placing wind technology on private property.
NextEra Energy, which owns the substation, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
A new state law, passed this year, declares turbines and substations must stay one-and-a-half nautical miles from all runways, public schools and hospitals, but makes no mention of private homes.
“It’s getting where landowners have no rights,” Bratcher said. “There needs to be something out there to protect the landowner.”
Bratcher said he doesn’t mind the sight of the turbines now dotting the landscape, but he wants lawmakers to mandate a sound barrier or a minimum distance turbines and substations must stay away from homes.
He hopes, by sharing his story, he can spare other homeowners the aggravation he’s experienced.
“They just came in and took over,” Bratcher said of the energy company. “Rural America is just going away.”
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