Nov 19, 2012
The following is the summary of the Iberdrola Hardscrabble Complaint filed with the Supreme Court of NY.
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT AGAINST IBERDROLA – SUPREME COURT, STATE OF NEW YORK
RE: HARDSCRABBLE WIND POWER PROJECT, HERKIMER COUNTY, NY – OCTOBER 22, 2012 (filed 10/24/12)
- 60 plaintiffs (not clear if it is 60 different homes as several share the same last name)
- Wind turbines being in close proximity to their homes
- All plaintiffs live within a mile of the wind farm
- Iberdrola is a for-profit corporation with multiple legal entities
- Consultants CH2M Hill and Mark Bastasch are also listed as named defendants
- The Hardscrabble Wind Power Project consists of 37 wind turbines
- Each of the 37 turbines are American-made Gamesa wind turbines that stand on 100-meter towers, have 3 blades that each weigh 7 tons and are 467 feet tall to the tip of the blade.
- Project cost exceeds $50 million.
- The life span of the wind turbines is 20 years.
- Project represented to Fairfield, Middleville and Norway, NY as not being noisy; not impacting neighboring houses; and not having any potential health risks.
- Noise levels were projected by Iberdrola to be less than 50 decibels.
- Noise study was based on General Electric turbines, not Gamesa.
- Iberdrola failed to adequately assess the effect of noise, loss of enjoyment, interference with electrical functions (satellites, television, internet, and telephone), diminished property values, destruction of scenic countryside, trespass and nuisance to neighbors, and health concerns.
- Iberdrola conducted an initial noise study that showed noise levels as high as 72 decibels.
- It is claimed alternatively by individual plaintiffs that the noise is louder than an airport, makes a “whooshing” noise, sounds like a jet about to crash, and/or sounds like a hovering propeller plane.
- Iberdrola redid the initial noise study but not under the maximum wind speeds nor in the winter when noise levels are higher. According to the Complaint, these subsequent studies are questionable.
- Iberdrola did not acknowledge or assess thousands of complaints that were logged.
- The turbines are producing only 22.8% of their capacity.
- This level of production does not meet the 30% required to qualify for tax credits.
- As a result of the low production levels, when the government subsidies expire, the wind turbines may become derelict.
- Wind turbines of this magnitude should not have been placed close to residences.
- The wind turbines also cause and/or create infra and low frequency sounds, the health effects of which were not addressed.
- The wind turbines are causing significant problems and/or injuries to residents.
- House values have been significantly compromised.
- Some residents have been forced to abandon their homes.
- Iberdrola carelessly and negligently failed to adequately assess and/or test to determine if the project was feasible and/or would produce reasonable benefits to the community.
- Iberdrola and its consultants were careless, negligent, professionally negligent and/or deviated from professional standards of care by:
- Failing to appropriately assess the site
- Failing to perform appropriate tests
- Failing to sufficiently study wind turbine arrays
- Failing to adequately determine the most suitable turbines for the area
- Utilizing wind turbines that were inappropriate for the site
- Placing wind turbines too close to residences
- Placing wind turbines that were too large for the area
- Causing permanent and irreparable harm and damage to neighboring properties
- Failing to adequately assess the impacts of the turbines
- Carelessly and negligently representing material facts
- Intentionally misrepresenting material facts and information
- Acts of carelessness and negligence
- Plaintiffs have suffered significant and permanent injuries.
- The amount of damages exceeds the jurisdictional limits of all lower courts.
- The studies performed by CH2M Hill and Mark Bastasch lacked a total and real assessment of the potential harm.
- CH2M Hill and Bastasch knew or should have known that wind turbines erected produce acoustic pressure pulsations that affect peoples’ health.
- Iberdrola interfered with or invaded plaintiffs’ interests by conduct that was negligent, careless, intentional and/or unreasonable.
- Iberdrola’s conduct violates statutes designed to protect neighbors.
- The wind turbines regularly violate Fairfield’s local ordinance.
- The criteria for the wind turbines violate EPA and World Health Organization recommendations.
- The wind turbines constitute a private nuisance because:
- The wind turbines create significant noise
- The wind turbines interfere with the private enjoyment and use of the plaintiffs’ properties
- The wind turbines cause blinking, flashing and/or flickering effects
- The wind turbines are adversely affecting property values
- The wind turbines constitute a public nuisance because:
- The project takes away from the ability of the area for use for tourism and historic value
- The project makes the area significantly less attractive and significantly limits the public’s right to use the property
- Once the life of the turbines has been reached, they will fall into disrepair and there is no plan to remove them
Trespass To Real Property
- Plaintiffs allege that the placement of wind turbines around their property results in a trespass due to the invasion of their land by noises, lights, flickering and low frequency vibrations.
- This trespass has caused injury by diminishing property values and the use and enjoyment of their properties.
Strict Products Liability
- The wind turbines were in a defective condition
- Plaintiffs could not have prevented the damage or injury by reasonable care.
- Even if the plaintiffs had exercised reasonable care, they could not have averted their injury or damages.
- Plaintiffs allege that all Defendants acted willfully, recklessly, were grossly negligent, and/or acted with a conscious disregard to each of the allegations set forth in the Complaint.
- Defendants’ conduct rises to a level sufficient for an award of punitive damages.
- All of the Defendants have caused significant damage to the Plaintiffs and such damage is substantial, irreparable, and was proximately caused by the acts of the Defendants.
- Specific damages include, but are not limited, to the following:
- Loss of many hours of work
- Headaches/migraines from lack of sleep
- Constant stress, anxiety, panic, sleep disturbance, heart palpitations, nausea and/or depression
- Experiences of dizziness/vertigo, sinus problems, earaches, and ringing in the ears
- Allergies have worsened
- Increased blood pressure and other health related issues
- Loss of enjoyment from outside activities such as: working in garden, barbequing and eating outside, having conversations, swimming, bike riding, hosting outside parties, playing with grandchildren, bird and wildlife watching, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, hiking, relaxing on deck, performing dairy farm activities, cropping of fields
- Loss of visitations by family and friends
- Loss of views of landscape, countryside and Mohawk Valley
- Noise from the turbines is distractive to pets; dogs are nervous, bark excessively and pace
- Cannot sleep
- Cannot open windows due to disruptive noise
- Noise and vibrations sounding like a hovering jet or propeller plane, including grinding, droning, thumping and whooshing
- Cannot enjoy the sounds of nature and wildlife
- Lost profits from dairy farm due to lower milk production from cows
- Negative impact on property values
- Unable to sell land and house
- Abandoned house; foreclosure; filed for bankruptcy
- Cannot build onto house due to 1,250’ setback requirement from wind turbines
- Loss of ability to develop property
- Cannot meditate
- Difficulty listening to AM radio
- Poor television and/or cellular-phone reception; interference with internet connection
- Sediment and cloudiness in drinking water
- Cannot target shoot, hunt or trap or watch wildlife on the land because the noise has scared away the game (deer, bear, turkeys, grouse)
- Disturbed by flashing red lights at night
- Loss of alpaca farming and agritourism potential
- Decrease in school grades
- Seeking damages related to:
- Diminution of property values
- Destruction of homes and lifestyle
- Loss of use and enjoyment of their properties
- Relocation costs
- Mental anguish
- Destruction of scenic countryside
- Physical pain and suffering
- Difficulty sleeping
- Interference with electrical functioning
- Loss of business profits
- Special damages that include anxiety, stress, worry and inconvenience
- Future medical monitoring and/or medical care
- Effects of the lights and noise
- Other injuries
- Attorneys’ fees and costs
- Plaintiffs demand judgment for damages in an amount which exceeds the jurisdictional limits of all lower courts.
For the convenience of the reader, the author of this Summary has attempted to accurately summarize and reflect what is in the Complaint against Iberdrola and their consultants. The reader should consult the Complaint directly to verify any statements made in this Summary and to assure him or herself that the contents of this Summary are a proper reflection of the Complaint.
Prepared by: Peter Silbermann