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Manitowoc landowners adjust for turbines

http://www.postcrescent.com

Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers

MANITOWOC – His father sold the family’s 100-acre farm in 1966 to make way for the Point Beach Nuclear Power Plant.

Forty years later, Dale Kopetsky of rural Mishicot is making room on his land for the next wave of energy options – wind power.

Kopetsky recently signed a 20-year contract with Navitas Energy Inc. of Minneapolis to site a pair of 320-foot, two-megawatt wind turbines on his property.

They will be among 49 wind towers Navitas will erect that will change the landscape in the towns of Mishicot and Two Creeks.

The elder Kopetsky had purchased 110 acres of farmland in the town of Mishicot two years after selling to the nuclear interests, to continue his livelihood.

“We weren’t against the nuclear plant, but “¦ life moves on,” Dale Kopetsky said. “Some people are against change and things change. The nuclear plant changed our lives and the wind turbines will change our lives and other people’s lives.”

The incentive is mainly economic, he said.

The contract with Navitas will pay Kopetsky $9,000 a year for the next 20 years.

The developments have created friction between neighbors.

Proponents see the turbines as a way to provide renewable energy while giving landowners a source of income. Critics say the turbines will drive down property values and have unresolved safety issues that could put residents in danger.

Howard Wachsmuth, Mishicot, envisioned much smaller turbines when he learned, in late 2004, that his neighbor Ron Kakes would be installing two Navitas units.

Wachsmuth thought they would be the size of the turbine at Lakeshore Technical College – 110 feet. Navitas turbines will be nearly three times that high.

“I’m figuring my property will lose close to 50 percent of its value and I think it will stay down there for a long time,” he said.

Kakes doesn’t believe property valued will decline.

“I tracked the turbines in Kewaunee County and their property values have gone up or remained the same, but they haven’t gone down at all,” he said.

Kakes has not discussed the turbines with Wachsmuth, but he has spoken to other neighbors.

“Some are OK with it and some are not OK with it,” he said. “Some people argue against the aesthetics the turbines would have on the land, but the power plant has high telephone poles and no one mentions that.”

Filed by the Herald Times Reporter, Manitowoc.