Local interest in solar energy growingSubmitted: 08/19/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

EAGLE RIVER - No matter how high energy prices get, our dependence remains the same. We see alternative energy production booming in other parts of the country, but many people feel like it's just not that feasible here.

One Northwoods couple says it is. Kevin and Marta Church own K and M Services, Inc. They've become certified to install solar panels, and decided to start with their own home.

The churchs aren't completely off the grid. That means they produce their own energy during the day, and use energy from WPS at night. But since the installation last October, the energy they buy from WPS has gone from 1,700 kilowatts per hour, to 400.

When they made the change, they found a lot of people had questions about solar energy.

"Some of the misconceptions are we don't have enough sun. We're on the same latitude line as Germany, and they're the largest solar producer in the world. It's just a matter of trees in the area," says Kevin Church.

The couples 24 panel project cost about $32,000. They hope it will have paid for itself in seven years.

But projects can be on a much smaller scale; even as small as four panels for about $1,500.

Energy companies like WPS encourage people to look into their options.

"For customers that do install solar generation or wind generation, Wisconsin Public Service does have a specific program to buy back any excess energy produced by those programs. It's called our net metering program," says Leah Van Zile, says Wisconsin Public Service.

There are other incentives too. For example, the Churchs got $1,200 from Focus on Energy for their solar panel project. They also got a 30 percent federal tax credit.

The Churchs are among only a handfull of people certified to install solar panels in far Northern Wisconsin. But they say interest is picking up.

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WAUSAU - Police think a high school student may have started a fire in Wausau last week.

Last Tuesday, the Wausau Police Department responded to a fire that damaged a significant amount of the building. On Thursday, police got information that a 16-year-old boy from Wausau East talked about being responsible for starting the fire.

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MINOCQUA - Artists will open their studios to visitors this weekend for the Northwoods Art Tours.

Lora Hagen, who owns Scheider et Fille Pottery Shop in Minocqua, is one of those artists.

She took over the business after her father passed away.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/06/2015

- People in Rhinelander will gather for more than football at a game tonight. The goal is to help a 13-year-old who can't join his teammates right now. Bobby Towne was diagnosed with Wilson's disease at the end of August. The disease prevents his liver from filtering copper out of his blood. Bobby's illness got so bad he now needs a liver transplant. His team will donate proceeds from the concession stand and a 50/50 raffle to the Towne family. Newswatch12s will be at the game and offer a live report tonight on Newswatch 12 at Five.

We'll have the details on this story and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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LINCOLN COUNTY - A cough can sometimes be a symptom of the common cold, but nurses say some types of coughs can be more dangerous. That's why local health experts want people to monitor their coughs.

Nurses say most coughs this time of the year are triggered by colds and allergies, but there are some symptoms people should get checked out by a doctor.

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OGEMA - The fall colors brighten up our area this time of year.

High Point Village Resort sits right on Bass Lake in Ogema It overlooks Timm's Hill. The hill is Wisconsin's highest geographical point, with an elevation of 1951.5 feet.

"This time of year is the busiest," said High Point Village Resort owner Kathy Blomberg. "People are coming for the colors."

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EAGLE RIVER - This week you can get a closer look at places to relax in the Northwoods.

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MADISON - Supporters of a Republican-backed bill that would make it easier to hire or fire Wisconsin state employees are defending it against claims it will lead to political patronage and cronyism.

Opponents including Democrats and state employee union leaders said at a Senate hearing Tuesday that it will erode protections workers have under the 110-year-old civil service system.

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