Proposed legislation would allow people who claim they’ve been made sick by wind turbines built near their homes to be able to sue – even if those turbines are legally sited under state law. Industry advocates say such a law would have a chilling effect on wind energy development in Wisconsin.
The bill is from state Senator Frank Lasee, whose northeastern Wisconsin district encompasses wind turbines which he says have had negative impacts on many residents living near them. “I don’t want people harmed like the people I represent, who have truly been drastically, dramatically harmed by this,” he told members of the state Senate Judiciary Committee. “We don’t seem to care, and that bothers me a lot.”
Elizabeth Eberts testified that turbines near her home in the Fond du Lac County Town of St. Cloud have made her sick and lowered property values. “My husband and I both are retired now. Where are we supposed to go? What are we supposed to do? I won’t get the money I invested in my home, because of the turbines.
Lasee’s bill would allow anyone living within a mile-and-a-half of an industrial wind turbine to sue for physical, emotional, or financial damages. It would allow suits to be targeted at both the owner of the turbine and the land it’s on.
A wind energy industry representative said the legislation, if it were to become law, would replace risk with uncertainty. “All energy development is risky, that is not something that’s unique to wind,” said Joe Sullivan with Wind On The Wires. “You take risk and you replace it with total uncertainty. Nobody is going to finance uncertainty.”