ALBANY, N.Y. (CN) - Dozens of neighbors of a $200 million wind farm sued the companies behind it, claiming noise and lights give them migraines, make them nervous and keep them up at night.
Their dogs bark too much, dairy cows are less productive, and TV and Internet services are interrupted, the 60 plaintiffs claim in Albany County Supreme Court.
All live within a mile of the Hardscrabble Wind Power Project, northeast of Utica in the rural communities of Fairfield, Middleville and Norway.
Iberdrola USA and a slew of affiliates are named as defendants, along with Hardscrabble Wind Power, Atlantic Wind USA and affiliates, engineering consultant CHM2 Hill and staff acoustical engineer Mark Bastasch.
The property owners claim the defendants "carelessly and negligently failed to adequately assess and/or test the site of the Hardscrabble project to determine whether the subject project would be feasible and/or produce reasonable benefits to the community."
They say the wind farm - with 37 turbines that stand 476 feet tall - is too large, too noisy and too close to their homes.
The 74-megawatt project began producing electricity in January 2011, according to the website of Iberdrola Renewables, an affiliate of Iberdrola USA. The project is touted as "home-grown" because the blades and tower sections for the turbines were made in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Iberdrola USA, which provides gas- and electricity-delivery services to 2.4 million customers in New York and New England, is a subsidiary of Spain's largest utility, Iberdrola S.A., which owns hydroelectric, fossil-fueled, nuclear and renewable power-generation facilities worldwide.
The plaintiffs accuse the companies of negligence, private nuisance, trespass and strict products liability. They seek punitive damages, saying that "all of the defendants acted willfully, recklessly, were grossly negligent, and/or acted with a conscious disregard with regard to each of the allegations set forth in this complaint."
The 49-page complaint details a litany of damages from each plaintiff, from headaches and stress to sediment in drinking water and airport-like noises.
Plaintiff Diane Abele says she has lost profits from her dairy farm "because the cows have been less productive since defendants built the turbines."
Plaintiffs Bernadette Baylor and Richard Baylor Jr. say they have been unable to sell their house and land since the wind turbines were installed. They claim that because of the turbines' noise, they abandoned their home, now rent another, and were forced to file for bankruptcy.
Plaintiffs Andrew McEvoy and Theresa McEvoy bought their property in 2002 and 2 years later bought alpacas "with the intention of building an alpaca farm," according to the complaint. But since the turbines were built, they suspended the operation, into which they had invested "considerable time and money."
Plaintiff June Salamone "has increased headaches, nervous/tension feelings of panic and anxiety, dizziness, and sleep disturbance due to the wind turbines," the complaint states. "The thumping and whooshing sounds from the turbines permeates through plaintiff June Salamone's body" and she "cannot get an uninterrupted night of sleep."
All of the plaintiffs claim they have "suffered a significant loss of use and enjoyment" of their property and "a negative impact on the value of the property."
They say the wind farm operated at just 22.8 percent of capacity last year, "contrary to the intent and purpose of creating significant renewable energy," as the defendants proposed.
They also claim the wind farm was built "because of huge governmental subsidies to the benefit of the defendants" and "little or no benefit to the public."
The plaintiffs worry that "when the turbines become old and no longer function ... Herkimer County may be left looking like a vast industrial junkyard."
Rural Herkimer County, just east of Utica, includes large swaths of the Adirondack Mountains.
"Plaintiffs allege that all of the defendants have caused significant damage to the plaintiffs and that such damage is substantial, irreparable, and was proximately caused by the acts of the defendants as set forth in this complaint."
The plaintiffs are represented by Jeff DeFrancisco and Melody Scalfone, with DeFrancisco & Falgiatano in Syracuse.
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