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Hobart farmer unveils proposal for area’s first wind turbine

HOBART | A longtime Hobart farmer is hoping to lay claim to operating one of the area’s first wind turbines.

Louis Mikolics, whose farm is located at 69th Avenue and Colorado Street, is seeking to put a 172-foot wind turbine in the middle of his 93-acre property.

“It’s a means to stay green and for me to stay farming,” Mikolics, 76, said.

Mikolics, along with Rob Hefner of AB Wind Power, came before the Board of Zoning Appeals on Thursday night looking for feedback on their plans.

The two asked for a deferral – on a requested variance – to the Sept. 8 meeting.

“Any opinions? Any objections?” Hefner asked the board.

Hefner said he and Mikolics asked for the temporary deferral because they need to go back to the drawing board on their plans.

The plans, currently for a one-phase or one-wire connection, will have to be upgraded to a three-phase or three-wire connection, Hefner said.

That’s because both NIPSCO and the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission recently placed limitations on single-phase plans.

Hefner said investment for a wind turbine would be $380,000 with a 30 percent rebate from the government.

The income Mikolics would receive would be from energy produced, at a payback of 17 cents per kilowatt hour, from NIPSCO.

Reaction from city planners was positive including comments made by BZA member Dan Waldrop.

“I don’t see a negative,” Waldrop said.

Hefner said the wind turbine proposed for Hobart is much smaller than the ones seen along Interstate 65, south of Lake County.

And the wind turbine proposed for Hobart would be the first in Lake County.

The closest ones of that size are an existing one at Kankakee Community College and one being constructed at Governors State University.

Both of those locations are in Illinois.

City Planner A.J. Bytnar asked Hefner to bring drawings or make a presentation at next month’s meeting, so board members could see the size compared to those downstate on Interstate 65

Bytnar said the wind turbine, a first for Hobart, would be a positive move.

“It would be nice to have green renewable energy in the region. It has the potential to be a positive impact,” Bytnar said.