Minnesota Man gets Six Months in Jail for Harvesting Wind Energy on His Property

After passing a draconian law to stop one man using clean energy, Go Green Energy founder, Jay Nygard, found himself in prison.

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Jay Nygard
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A man from the city of Orono, Minnesota, was sentenced to six months in jail for refusing to completely remove a wind turbine that he had installed on his property to harvest clean energy.

The man, Jay Nygard, was put behind bars in October 2015.  According to media reports, Mr Nygard is a known clean energy advocate, founding Go Green Energy. His company makes solar panels, hot water systems and attic fans, as well as turbines that mount onto roofs or stand freely, like the one he built that resulted in his prison sentence.

Jay Nygard

Nygard is said to have built a 29-foot-high wind turbine on his property in 2010, to make personal use of the clean energy that the machine generates. When Nygard was about to erect his wind turbine, he was reportedly denied the appropriate permits by city officials.

The city officials said then, the turbine violated so-called zoning laws, and that it made neighbors uncomfortable. Zoning is the way government controls the physical development of land and the kinds of uses to which each individual property may be put to.

But Nygard and his lawyer held that the wind turbine was similar to light poles or basketball hoops erected without needing city clearance. He erected the wind turbine, which was generating clean power for his house. City officials then demanded he take the turbine down, going further to pass a new law banning wind turbines within the city limits.

Jay Nygard

After passing the draconian law, the city then dragged Nygard to court. The court ruled that the city cannot ban residents from erecting wind turbines to harness wind energy. However, strangely, the court also ruled that Nygard take down his wind turbine because it caused disturbances to his neighbors, despite being situated on his property.

The court battle carried on for over a year. As a law abiding citizen, Nygard did eventually remove the turbine, leaving only the cement base – because removing it would cause structural damage to his house.

However, not to let matters rest, city officials demanded he remove the base of the structure. It is said three different engineers advised city officials that removal of the base would cause damage to Nygard’s house. Yet, the city refused to heed to this advice.

Jay Nygard

The city went back to court. The court ordered the base of the structure to be removed. When Nygard was still contemplating on how best to remove the base without causing damage to his house, he was arrested and taken into custody, and later put before the court for contempt charges. The court sentenced Nygard to six months for not complying with a previous court order to remove the base.

The Nygard family told local media that the sentence was a display of unfair treatment. According to them, the ruling was not done in accordance with the law. They told how they were in the process of removing the base, when Nygard was arrested by the police.

“He was arrested, handcuffed, and taken to jail. Tonight will be night No. 4 in jail. That was the best place to harvest the wind on our property. We don’t have a very big property. I don’t know where else we could have put it,” Kendell, Nygard’s wife said.

But despite being sentenced, Nygard still operates three smaller wind turbines on their property. The family said they believed they would be able to keep them, in order to generate clean energy.

Jay Nygard

Governments around the world are encouraging their citizens to harness clean energy. However, it is unclear why in the United States, people would have to follow needless bureaucracy before being able to do something they have the right to do.

Nygard has the right to do whatever he wants with his own property, but unfortunately, in a democracy such as the United States, the property rights of an individual can be overridden according to the whims of politicians and the demands of uninvolved third parties, irrespective of the potential benefits, such as clean energy.


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11 COMMENTS

  1. If wind turbines are banned, each wind turbine used to vent attics would then have to be removed as well as it utilizes wind energy to do so.

  2. Fuck government. The last thing we need is to be herded like chattel property. Take ’em to court for breach of fiduciary duty and perjury of oath.
    What happened to “pursuit of happiness”? They swore an oath to protect the Constitution.

  3. He’s being used as a symbol. Probably irritated some oil burning right winger who was afraid others might see the benefit and it spread. I like the US and Americans but it’s this kind of thing that makes me very glad I don’t live there. You realise, when you look closer, that the US has lost any kind of democratic leadership and isn’t to be emulated.

    • I live in the 10th richest community in the US, there are a bunch of NIMBY’s around me who think that I have to live my life their way

  4. Dear U.S. Citizens who read this article and made it to the comment section. You can do something about this. If enough of you take a stand and erect your own turbines, there capital costs of charging all of you will significantly outweigh any personal benefits of authorities who wish to strip you of this right.

    Alternatively, you could take a more radical stand and move out of the country. A significant loss of population via migration to other countries, especially countries typically mocked or otherwise disrespected by some U.S. citizens, such as Canada and France, will send a clear message that the kind of authoritarianism, which at this point borders on totalitarianism, is expressly unwanted.

    Don’t just sit idly by as you read this article. You CAN take a stand in more ways than I’ve considered with the above points. Don’t just do it for yourselves, do it for each other and make sure your voice is heard. The U.S. is in the death throws that every great empire has faced and its high time that people take matters into their own hands.

  5. The only reason why this kind of draconian action happens is because the city officials are corrupt by having their hands deep inside some corporations ( electricity) pockets . I’ll bet my Xmas pudding on that being the case.

    • Don’t even need a corporation to do this, city official are corrupt and courts are corrupt. period. In a fed lawsuit to prove it right now.

  6. I think someone should start a campaign against this. Allow a movement to start by allowing others to purchase their own wind turbines and house wall mounted batteries just to stick it to the assholes putting this, obviously intelligent to the environment, person in jail.

  7. He has 3 wind turbines already, he filed for a building permit for this much larger (29′, 9′ diameter blades) turbine and was denied and built the thing anyway. This is about building codes and not wind turbines, you can’t just build any structure you want.

    • Not really. The turbine I went to jail for was installed first. I grew up with windmills about town at the farms. 1995 MN state law gives all in MN the right to harvest the wind and the city had not enacted an ordinance to control them. I won at the appeals court pointing out that the turbine is no different than bb hoops, clotheslines and flagpoles in my city. Then lost on a SECOND lawsuit (double jeopardy???) on a BS technicality because the appeals court was too much of a wimp to rule against an ignorant district court judge a second time. I put up the 3 smaller ones every time the city pissed me off during the litigation. Now they are suing me for those, temporary flagpoles, my clotheslines, firewood pile, temporary shelter over my boat (which is gone now). What I don’t get is, that if they say I am violating the code with my turbines, why did they sue me for only 2 out of the 3 now???????

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