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Bill would allow for medical claims from wind farms

MADISON (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Residents who say they've been robbed of their sleep by neighboring wind energy turbines went to the State Capitol yesterday to ask for relief. They testified in favor of a bill to make wind farm developers and utilities liable for damages caused to neighboring homeowners who complain of headaches, sleep deprivation, and other health problems.

Senate Republican Frank Lasee of De Pere introduced the measure. Part of his district includes a wind farm in southern Brown County, where several residents said they had to move away because of all the noise. Low-frequency sounds were detected at those homes, and the state Public Service Commission ordered studies on that matter. Lasee says it's clear that homeowners need some sort of recourse if they have problems -- but business and wind power groups say the bill is too broad, and it could lead to needless lawsuits. Joe Sullivan of the wind energy business group "Wind on the Wires" says the bill goes against Governor Scott Walker's efforts for legal liability reform. Brian Manthey of We Energies said his utility has investigated and addressed concerns raised by homeowners of its wind projects, including those testifying at yesterday's hearing before the state Senate's judiciary committee.

Chairman Glenn Grothman promised more meetings on the subject.