Orono man can keep wind turbine on his property, judge rules

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An Orono man who has fought with city leaders for more than three years over a wind turbine he built on his property has won a victory in court.

The city of Orono sued Jay Nygard after he refused to take down the 30-foot wind turbine in his backyard on Lake Minnetonka, but a Hennepin County huge ruled in favor of Nygard last week, according to FOX 9.

Nygard put up the wind turbine in 2010, sparking a three-year legal battle that’s included at least eight lawsuits between Nygard, the city of Orono and his neighbors on Lake Minnetonka, the Star Tribune reported.

For years the city told Nygard he needs to remove the turbine because he built it without proper permits and it’s a threat to public safety, while his neighbors have argued the turbine is a nuisance.

Last December, Orono passed an ordinance prohibiting all wind energy conversion systems in the city, according to FOX 9. But Nygard said the ordinance violates state law, so he sued again this spring.

The judge ruled the state law, which allows wind turbines to be built with some regulation, overrides the local ordinance which bans them completely.

According to the ruling, the city of Orono can still regulate wind turbines within its borders, but “prohibits the complete banning” of all small wind energy conversion systems within the city, according to FOX 9.

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Nygard’s company, Go Green Energy, sells wind turbines in other Minnesota communities and he wants the opportunity to do the same in Orono.

“This is a big victory for green energy, and my company, Go Green Energy, in its long standing push to bring micro wind turbines to the Minnesota market," Nygard said in a statement, according to FOX 9.

The turbine in question (an example is pictured above) doesn't look much like the tall commercial-grade structures that are often built by utilities. It's a "vertical axis" wind generator that looks more like an upside-down egg beater, the Star Tribune notes.

The small units generate about 1.5 kilowatts of power, which Nygard has said is enough to cover about half the energy needs of his home.

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