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Jay Nygard May Still Go to Jail Over Homemade Wind Turbines

The offending wind turbine, before Nygard covered it in anti-reflective paint.

The offending wind turbine, before Nygard covered it in anti-reflective paint.

Jay Nygard thought he was in the clear after a Hennepin County judge ruled last October that state law upheld his right to keep his four DIY wind turbines, which his home city of Orono vowed to take down.

Now Judge Susan Robiner says Orono cops can drag him off to jail if he doesn't disassemble the turbine in his front yard by February 19. She's wanted him to do that since June 2014, saying the turbine produces an "intense flashing light and sound" that "no person should be expected to endure."

Nygard denies the accusation because the turbine in question doesn't have lights and has been turned off since last winter. He won't take it down, risking a contempt of court order to jail him and his wife for six months.

See also: Judge: Orono's Ban on Jay Nygard's Wind Turbines Conflicts with State Law

"We didn't take the turbine down because there is no nuisance. There is no noise because the turbine has been locked down and not turning," he says.

Nygard has been staunchly battling the city of Orono for four years over his turbines. When neighbors first complained about the 30-foot-tall, 750-pound "eyesore" in 2010, the city sued Nygard for refusing to remove it. The city won, and then it modified a zoning ordinance to ban small wind energy conversion systems. That's when Nygard countersued Orono on the grounds that state law was on his side.

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Ultimately, Judge Philip Bush ruled that no, cities can't just enact a ban on residents' wind turbines because Minnesota statute grants them the right to opt out of the traditional utility grid. Nygard slapped a celebratory plaque on his controversial turbine, dedicating it to all small-scale wind harvesters. It reads:

Turns out Orono isn't letting it go, and Nygard still has a long road ahead of him if he's going to keep fighting for his turbines.

"This is my city. I can't believe they're doing this to me," Nygard says. "That's the craziest thing, all of this is happening over going green."

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