“I want you to know what I went through” (Wisconsin)

Jul 26, 2010

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I had beef cattle for about two years prior to the turbines operating and never lost any animals.  Shortly after the turbines began to operate, I had beef cattle become ill and die. 
I lost ten animals valued at $5,000 [each] over a two-year period and couldn’t afford to continue.

My name is Joe Yunk; I currently reside at the address of N2630 Townhall Rd in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin.

My prior address was North 7905 County Trunk P, Algoma, Wisconsin which was in the Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) wind farm by Rio Creek, Wisconsin. I moved from the Algoma address to my current address on or about October 2009 to get away from the effects of the WPS wind farm.

I have been following the current proposed Element Power LLC (EEP) wind farm development that I now find myself living in.

I want you to know what I went through while living in the WPS wind farm. I am hopeful that this information will help you make the right decisions with regard to any PSCW approvals for any other wind farms in Wisconsin.

I would hate to see other peoples’ lives to be as negatively affected as mine has been as a result of living in a wind farm. There is no doubt in my mind that I will relive the awful experience once again if the EEP wind farm for Kewaunee County is approved.

In 1998 the WPS wind farm construction began about 300 yards from my home. I had built this home in 1980 on 6.5 acres of land which was our home farm that I lived on all my life. I was born on November 28, 1954. I had two turbines within one-half mile, one of those turbines was about 1,300 ft from my house and 600 ft from my property line.

In the summer of 2000, the turbines of the WPS wind farm began operation. Inasmuch as I had lived on this farm all my life, I knew the neighbors well, and it wasn’t long after the turbines began operating our lives began to change.

In conversations with my neighbors, I learned they too were experiencing constant disturbing noise, shadow flicker and just the constant presence of the turbines. By presence I felt uneasy and irritated by the size and closeness of these 220 ft. turbines.

All the people living in this wind farm were guinea pigs/lab rats, no one knew what we were in for. It was in the fall of 2000 when neighbors and families began to divide over the effects of the wind farm. And that continued throughout the time I lived there.

When the turbines began to operate, a hotline was established directly to WPS to report any problems.

I had beef cattle for about two years prior to the turbines operating and never lost any animals. However, shortly after the turbines began to operate, I had beef cattle become ill and die. I reported this on the WPS hotline and nothing was done. I lost ten animals valued at $5,000 [each] over a two year period and couldn’t afford to continue.

Because of noise complaints to WPS, within a year, two families’ homes were purchased by WPS and demolished.

Additionally, at the same time WPS was settling nuisance suits with other neighbors. They were offering to buy out my neighbors but offered prices way below market value to stop the complaints.

However, they never offered me any buyout opportunity and I wanted out! It was hard for me to leave my home place of 54 years. Over time, however, living with the constant sleep deprivation and irritation of the noise and flickering I decided to sue WPS to have them pay me fair market value for my home so I could afford to move.

I knew that I might be risking everything I had worked for all my life, but I didn’t care at this point. I didn’t even try to sell my place outright because I didn’t want anyone else to have to live as I did in this wind farm. I really wanted WPS to buy me out and to demolish the home.

I retained an attorney and filed suit with WPS. Shortly after, WPS offered me $110,000 on my property that appraised for $168,000. I decided not to take their offer, but proceed with the suit.

I gave deposition in the summer of 2008, we were scheduled to go trail in September 2009 and WPS offered me a settlement in August of 2009 for $163,000. With this settlement I was responsible for my attorney fees. My attorney advised me to accept this offer. After paying my attorney fees, I ended up with $158,000.

Later, my home and property were listed with a real estate agency for sale by WPS for 30% below the appraised value.

From my experience in living in this wind farm, it is apparent that setback away from property lines is absolutely necessary. I could hear the turbines a mile away from my house. The PSCW’s standard setback from a property line should be 1.5 miles.

Now, my new home and property on Townhall road is within the confines of the EPP proposed wind farm. I’d like to know what you recommend I do now?

Comments submitted by Joe Yunk to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, July 2010

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