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

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A Hennepin County judge ruled Friday that city officials can no longer ban small wind energy systems used at businesses and homes, including Jay Nygard's. For four years, he's been battling his neighbors and city officials in court for the right to keep four homemade wind turbines on his Lake Minnetonka property.

We called him Friday and found him brimming with pride. An engineer and owner of Go Green Energy, Nygard almost went to jail this summer for refusing to back down.

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Jay Nygard is not in jail, and still fighting Orono over his wind turbines

"I've been right the whole time and I now finally have proof," he says.

But it's also a victory for any Minnesotan hoping to go off the traditional utility grid (at least in part). Orono's blanket ban on wind turbines, the judge found, conflicted with state law. Erick Kaardal, Nygard's attorney, describes the decision as a "crushing loss" for the city's "19th-century perspective on the world."

Orono has two options: appeal the decision or accept defeat. George Hoff, an attorney retained for Orono by the taxpayer-funded League of Minnesota Cities, says he needs to speak with his clients. (The mayor's office did not return our call.) However, he's quick to point out that, whatever happens, Orono will maintain some level of control over Nygard's property.

The city has said it opposes Nygard's turbines on public safety grounds, citing concerns about the size and proximity of one turbine to a neighbor's property line. The judge's ruling on Friday prohibits Orono from invoking police-like powers over small wind energy systems, but the city can nevertheless regulate "the construction and sitting" of wind turbines, as laid out by Minnesota law.

Read Hennepin County judge Philip Bush's decision for yourself on the next page:

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Fourth Judicial District Court Decision in Nygard v. Orono



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