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NEWS STORIES

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

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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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 IN OTHER NEWS
Spending less on HalloweenSubmitted: 10/22/2014

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RHINELANDER - The average person will spend $77 this year on Halloween costumes, decorations, and candy.

The Goodwill in Rhinelander hopes you'll look good for much less. Goodwill has Halloween items like hats, trick-or-treat baskets to full costumes.

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Water weevils not effective option in fighting EWMSubmitted: 10/22/2014

NORTHWOODS - Earlier this summer, scientists thought they may have found a new way of fighting one Northwoods invasive species.

Water weevils are native to the Northwoods. Scientists hoped the weevils could kill invasive Eurasian water milfoil.

It turns out the weevils do kill milfoil, but the beetles are not very efficient.

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3 teens dead after crash in Shawano County Submitted: 10/22/2014

SHAWANO COUNTY - Three teens died after a two-car accident in Shawano County Tuesday evening.

The Shawano County Sheriff's Office responded to a call about a two-car crash along Highway 22, north of Friendship Road in the Town of Bell Plaine.

A white car was heading northbound on Highway 22 and lost control while trying to cross into the southbound lane. The passenger in that car was hit by an oncoming SUV driving, also traveling southbound.

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State water use declines in 2013Submitted: 10/22/2014

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STATEWIDE - Cooler temperatures helped the state use less water in 2013 than it did in 2012.

The state DNR found Wisconsin's groundwater and surface withdrawals dropped by 6% from the year before.

Power generation makes up 74% of the state's water use.

Cooler temperatures in 2013 meant power plants didn't need to use as much water to cool down equipment.

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Northwoods Parish raising money for school, church upgradesSubmitted: 10/22/2014

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RHINELANDER - A Northwoods Parish wants to raise at least two million dollars to renovate its schools and church.

Nativity of Our Lord Catholic School needs technology and infrastructure upgrades. One of the school's buildings hasn't been updated since the 1950s.

School leaders think it's important to also upgrade the school's wireless ability. The school has SmartBoards, iPads, and laptops, but they want the equipment to work better.

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Many Northwoods voters will consider whether to accept federal BadgerCare moneySubmitted: 10/22/2014

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RHINELANDER - Voters in Oneida, Lincoln, Florence, and Iron Counties will tell the state whether it should accept federal money to expand BadgerCare.

That's Wisconsin's health insurance program for low-income people.

Gov. Scott Walker rejected federal money offered by the Affordable Care Act.

President Obama promised that money would cover at least 90% of the cost of expansion for years into the future.

Walker has said Wisconsin can't trust the federal government to keep paying the money.

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Volunteers needed for new community warming centerSubmitted: 10/22/2014

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MERRILL - The first community warming center in Merrill is set to open in less than two weeks. However, Merrill Area United Way organizers still need volunteers to help manage the center.

The group recently re-fit the former Lincoln Community Bank Drive-Thru on W. Main Street in Merrill to serve as the center. It will help homeless people stay warm from November to April at night. The Lincoln County Homelessness Task Force reported more than 20 homeless living in the area as recently as July.

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