Man sentenced to 6 months in prison for installing a wind turbine in his own property

Categories: Energy

Jay Nygard's decision to install a wind turbine on his own property earned him prison time. It's the perfect example of how some local governments have been criminalizing “off the grid” living and eroding the rights of private property owners in the process.

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.  

There are conflicts of interest even among government as one branch offers tax incentives for installing such equipment, and another branch tries to force you to take it down.  

Certain factions of U.S. government have been eroding at property rights for some time. Thanks to their incredibly misguided efforts, it is now illegal in parts of the US to have a garden in your front lawn, collect rainwater on your own property, or live “off the grid.” You can even be arrested on your own property for protesting the installation of a pipeline that you never consented to. This troublesome trend is taking place, in part, because the government, and the “system” in general, is profitability motivated instead of people motivated.  

A federal government tasked with the job of breaking apart monopolies in the private sector turns a blind eye to local townships who masquerade as city officials while moonlighting as monopoly energy companies.

Another example of the government’s war on private landowners can be found in one Minnesota man’s six-year-long legal battle for having a wind turbine on his own property. The trouble started for Jay Nygard when he installed a 29-foot-tall wind turbine next to his home in 2010. Nygard is the owner of Go Green Energy, a company which produces miniature wind turbines as well as the turbines of the same make installed near his home. One can assume that he installed the wind turbine to take advantage of the products he sells for a living. Originally, legal issues emerged because neighbors complained to the city, saying that Nygard’s turbine was “an eyesore.” One of his neighbors, who sued him over the presence of the wind turbine, said that the turbine’s unpleasant visage took away their “freedom and enjoyment” of their property.

Nygard fought the courts, who ordered him to remove the turbine on more than one occasion, for years. Though he resisted, standing tall under state laws which suggested that the town "rules" were in violation of statutes, he eventually caved to the pressure and had the turbines removed. City judges pressed on to demand that the turbines' cement base also be removed. Despite the fact that three engineers said that the removal of the base would cause structural damage to Nygard’s home, the city continued to demand its removal. According to Nygard’s son, he even tried to add an easement to the house’s deed saying that when the house is demolished the pad must be removed. He managed to remove 50% of the base in order to avoid damaging his family’s home. Despite his best efforts, Nygard ultimately was given six months prison time last year for failing to remove 100% of the base.

He was just taken into custody.  

This egregious example of the government disrespecting the rights of private landowners, particularly those looking to live a life independent of the so-called “system,” is becoming more and more commonplace each passing year. If the Obama administration is as concerned about climate change and the environment as they claim to be, why do they allow the criminalization of those seeking to live independently from fossil fuels? Clearly, there is more to the story.

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