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Renewable Energy Dentist Has Wind Turbine in His Yard

In Elchoa, Wisconsin there is a dental office that looks like an old schoolhouse at first. One side looks out on a beautiful pond and patients face the pond. Outside the front door you can see a windmill through the trees. This is the office of Charles F. Wetzel.

Dr. Charles Wetzel is a Lifetime Member of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and bought a wind turbine for his home.
Dr. Charles Wetzel is a Lifetime Member of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and bought a wind turbine for his home.
Ann Day
Dr. Charles Wetzel - pond outside window
Ann Day

I wandered into Dr. Wetzel's office to see if they would talk to me. Amy the receptionist greeted me and checked with Dr. Wetzel to see if he could talk with me. As I was sitting in the waiting room I noticed a magazine I had seen at no other dental office. It was called Solar Today.

Pretty soon Dr. Wetzel came out and took me into one of the operatories. It had a fabulous view of the pond. The operatory next door did as well and so did his office. Later on he told me he doesn't own the pond and he only owns to the end of the blacktop on the parking lot outside his office.

Dr. Wetzel said he grew up in Milwaukee at 88th and Center and graduated from Marquette University High School. Then he got a Bachelor's Degree from UW-Milwaukee. In 1975 he graduated from Marquette Dental School. After he graduated he wanted to move to Maryland and designed a dental office to build there. He told me he couldn't get a loan to build the office and instead Wetzel told me he took a job as an independent contractor with Dr. Vraney.

"We weren't concerned about moving here" Wetzel said. Wetzel's father was from Langlade County and he had family still living in the area. His cousins graduated from Elchoa High School. He stayed with Dr. Vraney for 25 years at another office in Elchoa and then built the office he had wanted to build in Maryland. Patterson Dental helped him design it and he moved there in January 2001. Dr. Vraney retired five years ago. Wetzel said the old office he worked at was a half mile north on the east side of Highway 45. At one time he had looked to hire a hygienist but couldn't find one and he just got used to doing his own dental hygiene appointments. He still does dental cleaning appointments himself.

"I refer prosthedontics, ortho and perio out" said Wetzel. "I do endo, oral surgery and crown and bridge unless they are over my head." He told me they are sent to Antigo, Wausau and Rhinelander if they are referred out.

Wetzel told me he has four staff members; a receptionist, a morning assistant, an afternoon assistant and the business manager who happens to be his wife Janice.

"I've worked for Dr. Wetzel just shy of seven years" Amy his morning assistant responded when I asked how long she had been working there. She told me she graduated from New London High School and spent six months in Elm Grove, Illinois at the Travel Academy there. She moved to Elchoa for her significant other and has been there ever since. Now they are married.

Annette was sitting at the front desk and told me she has been with Dr. Wetzel for 17 years. I asked her how she liked working there.

"I enjoy it. Its an awesome place to work. He's real accommodating with our kids and sports and school schedules and programs" Annette said.

She told me she graduated from Elchoa High School and moved to Green Bay and then moved back to Elchoa. While she was up in Green Bay she went to the Technical College there for a Surgical Tech degree. I asked her about the magazine called Solar Today in the waiting room.

"He's really into renewable energy and has his own wind turbine" Annette said and pointed out the window through the trees.

Wetzel said he and his wife are lifetime members of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and they try to go to the Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin every year. He told me they have no electric bill at their house because of the windmill that was installed in 2005. The wind turbine is tied to the grid so there are no batteries. If the power goes out they don't have power either because it is tied to the power grid.

The Wetzels actually get money back from the power company which ends up being about $100.00 a year. He also told me that the company he bought it from went out of business a year ago and people come in and ask about it a lot so he handed me two sheets he prepared and I decided to share them in the slide show with this story. The wind turbine in his yard is located in a low wind area and produces 22,000 kilowatts a year.

Wetzel also heats his house with wood. He has a pile of wood delivered and uses a maul and chainsaw to cut it into pieces they can burn during the winter.

The Wetzels have four children; Natalie, Max, Andrea and Peter. Natalie lives in Summit Lake and is a counselor. Max lives in Arkansas and works making signs. Andrea lives in Middleton and works at Saris in Madison. Peter was in the Marine Corps and did a tour of duty in Iraq. Right now he is looking for a job in Law Enforcement.

Dr. Wetzel told me that I could go and take photos of the wind turbine at his house. It took me a while to find because I had to find the right road that went to the wind turbine about the trees but I found it and it was big and not noisy at all.

I have heard people complain that wind turbines are noisy. The sound is just a slight noise even less than an electric fan. They have a garden in the yard and a big pile of wood for the winter.

It was very enjoyable meeting Dr. Wetzel and his staff. He has also volunteered to do dentistry four times in the Dominican Republican and about 15 times in Jamaica.

A slide show is attached to this story.

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