The city of New Ulm, Minnesota may try to use eminent domain to promote wind power [HT: VC reader Paul Milligan]:
Does the government’s power of eminent domain include seizing the rights to the wind that wafts over your property? That’s the controversial question swirling around an 8 megawatt wind farm proposed by the southern Minnesota city of New Ulm and opposed by several farmers in rural Lafayette Township who refuse to grant their “wind rights” to the city utility.
“This is merely an evolution of principles that have been evolving since the sovereign rights of eminent domain were determined to exist,” according to Hugh Nierengarten, New Ulm City Attorney.
“Eminent domain is basically like a nuclear bomb,” said Clete Goblirsch, a farmer who refuses to sign an easement. “The repercussions would be long lasting and widespread, not just for us, but for the wind industry.”
While public utilities have fairly broad powers to use government authority to force property owners to sell to meet their needs, the New Ulm plan involves an unprecedented move to expand eminent domain authority to include the seizure of air space on private property for power generation.
“This is a first time this question has come up and the first time any entity has indicated they might use condemnation for wind development,” said Bob Cupit, an expert with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
The opponents’ objections to the proposed five wind turbines include noise concerns, lower property values, and adverse impact on the landscape and rural atmosphere. “Nobody’s against wind energy,” said Jeff Franta, a farmer who’s helped organize the opposition. “We’re just against a project being forced on an area that doesn’t want it.”
This proposed use of eminent domain is unusual in two ways. First, it will be utilized to promote […]