A Blue Hill resident has filed a class-action lawsuit against NextEra, alleging that its wind turbines are a nuisance to nearby homeowners.
The suit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on behalf of Kevin Kohmetscher.
According to court documents, Kohmetscher lives on an 11-acre plot that is surrounded on three sides by wind turbines from NextEra’s Cottonwood Wind Energy Center, a 40-turbine, 89-megawatt farm that began operation in the fall of 2017.
Kohmetscher says in the lawsuit that the closest turbine is 1,300 feet from his property line.
According to the suit, since the wind farm started operating, Kohmetscher has experienced stress, anxiety, an inability to sleep, headaches, nausea and other physical symptoms, which he says are caused by shadow flicker, noise and other negative effects of the wind turbines.
Kohmetscher also alleges in the complaint that the wind turbines have interfered with the use and enjoyment of his property and also that the proximity of the turbines has decreased the value of his property and he “will be unable to lease or sell his property for its fair market value prior to installation of the turbines.”
The suit is seeking class-action status for potentially more than 100 plaintiffs. It seeks monetary damages, which it estimates would be in excess of $5 million, and also a permanent injunction to prevent NextEra “from continuing to unreasonably interfere with his and the putative class members’ use and enjoyment of their property.”
A NextEra spokesman declined comment on the lawsuit.
NextEra, which is based in Jupiter Beach, Florida, has been expanding its footprint in Nebraska. In addition to the Cottonwood Wind farm and its first Nebraska wind farm, the 75-megawatt Steele Flats Wind Energy Center in Jefferson and Gage Counties, the company is building the 160-megawatt Sholes wind farm in Wayne County.
NextEra also has expressed interest in building a wind farm in southern Lancaster and northern Gage counties.
In response to opposition to that project, the Lancaster County Board last month voted in favor of a rule that would require a 1-mile setback between wind turbines and any home on a property that is not participating in a wind farm project. That’s believed to be the strictest setback rule in the state.
However, the board has decided to reconsider the decision at its March 19 meeting.
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