USA - Neighbours sue man for eco-friendly windmill

"Attitudes in the US need to change, A lot of people say not in my backyard, but I say it should start in our backyards"

Mercurio's Eco-Friendly Windmill Mercurio's Eco-Friendly Windmill
For more than 50 years Michael Mercurio has enjoyed life in his seaside town in New Jersey. So it came as a big surprise when neighbours sued him for erecting a backyard wind turbine, which he says is an attempt to fight global warming and the flooding effect it is having on his small beach community.

"My house saves 22,000 pounds of carbon emissions each year. When I started this I believed I was doing it for the good of my neighbours, for the good of the state, for the good of this country and for mankind. And I've been penalised because of it."

Prior to putting up the 35-foot wind turbine, Mercurio installed USD 24,000 worth of solar panels on his home – and between the two has lowered his energy costs to a mere USD 113 per year. Mercurio regularly checks the amount of energy he produces on a meter and claims that he generates more energy than he uses to power his two refrigerators, three air conditioners, washer, dryer, television, radio and other appliances. The surplus is then transferred back into the electric grid and is used to provide energy to his neighbours.

But his neighbours aren't looking for any favours. Their lawsuit claims the windmill is a nuisance and casts shadows on their property. Jennifer Kelly, who lives across the street from Mercurio, is not involved in the lawsuit, but says the windmill is an eyesore. "The homes are right on top of each other and the windmill of course, is surrounded by three or four homes. When it's out on a field it's great, but it has its proper place."

Since Mercurio was slapped with the suit in February, the windmill blades sit idly and the Township of Long Beach has said that granting Mercurio a permit was a mistake. A New Jersey Superior Court suspended the suit requiring Mercurio to seek a zoning variance, which he is not likely to get. As a result, it is likely the case will go back to court.

Not surprised by the controversy, Mercurio says attitudes in the US need to change, "A lot of people say not in my backyard, but I say it should start in our backyards." He points out that he's received a lot of support from strangers via email and newspaper editorials, and says he's proud to be a "pioneer" of a new kind of American dream, one that means living green.
Online editorial www.windfair.net
Edited by Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist
wind energy, wind farm, renewable energy, wind power, wind turbine, rotorblade, offshore, onshore

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