Cumberland Times-News

September 22, 2013

In federal lawsuits, Keyser residents allege wind farm threatens well-being


Cumberland Times-News

— KEYSER, W.Va. — A Charleston attorney has filed 23 federal lawsuits on behalf of 38 Keyser residents against Pinnacle Wind Farm at NewPage on Green Mountain, alleging the sound of the turbines has caused mental and physical health problems and the proximity has caused homes to lose their value, according to The State Journal.

Defendants in the suits were listed as Pinnacle Wind LLC, formerly Pinnacle Wind Force LLC, owned by subsidiary and affiliate of Southern California Edison Mission, Mission Wind Pinnacle Inc. and Edison International.

“Pinnacle strongly denies the allegations being made against its wind energy project,” said Charley Parnell, vice president of public affairs for Edison Mission Energy/Midwest Generation, in an email to the Times-News. “Further, Pinnacle takes seriously its role as a responsible member of the Mineral County community and has worked with the turbine manufacturer to develop and install equipment which reduced the noise from the wind turbines.”

Last year, louvers were installed on all 23 of the wind turbines at Pinnacle, according to Parnell.

“By all accounts they had a dramatic impact on the noise of the wind turbines,” said Parnell.

Residents are asking for a permanent injunction to prevent the wind farm from continuing operation. They are also seek reimbursement of any medical expenses related to its operation along with compensatory damages for past and future personal injuries, annoyance, inconvenience and the loss in value of the properties.

The Wood Law Office attorney representing the 38 residents told The State Journal that more lawsuits may follow.

The suits were filed in the Northern District of West Virginia on behalf of Chester R. Bean, Alma Bean, Melvin Broadwater, Nancy Broadwater, Paula Cosner, Robert Dawson, Doris Dawson, Patrick Durr, Barbara Durr, Robert D. Grapes, Evelyn Grapes, Robert S. Haines, Gail M. Haines, David E. Kesecker, Barbara Kesecker, Jerry Kile, Jo Ann Moore, Jeffrey E. Riggleman, Linda M. Riggleman, Phillip Saville Sr., Tammy Sue Saville, Carroll Tasker, Anita Jo Tasker, Dwight E. Broadwater, Patricia Broadwater, Michael Durr, Valerie Durr, Eric Durr, Jessica Durr, Judith Durr, Robert Grapes, Theresa Grapes, John Grapes, Gregory Kile, Michael Myers, James W. Tasker, Deborah L. Tasker and Rodney Watts.

The residents, who all live close to the wind farm, allege that the turbines and blades emit both low- and high-pitched noises, causing health and mental problems, including disturbed sleep, headaches, stomach issues, ringing in the ears, internal pulsation, irritability, anger and fatigue. Parnell indicated that he wasn’t aware of any other complaints about noise causing health issues at any of the other wind farms that Edison owns.

The suit asserts that in December 2012 Edison Mission Energy, on behalf of several affiliates, filed a Chapter 11 petition; however, the suit says Mission Wind and Pinnacle Wind were not part of that filing.

Last year, the West Virginia Public Service Commission dismissed a complaint filed by resident Gary Braithwaite in regard to the noise and flicker from the wind turbines. The PSC dismissed the complaint because the sitting order does not contain material terms and conditions related to noise or flicker and because the agency does not possess the statutory authority to address the issues raised by Braithwaite, according to the commission’s final order.