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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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EAGLE RIVER - One couple took their love of hockey to a whole new level this weekend.

Kim Riley and Joe Vrtis came to Eagle River to play in the USA Pond Hockey Tournament.

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WESTON - The state of Wisconsin no longer bans the possession or purchase of switchblades.

Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) signed a bill lifting the decades-long ban on switchblades on Saturday at a 
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Walker said this gives people another option for protection, and it also can help first responders at accidents.

"Say at a crash to take someone out of a harness or seat belt or other things like that," Walker said. "And again, the bottom line is as it is with firearms, the people you are worried about are already possessing these, law abiding citizens should at least have access to that in the state of Wisconsin."

This new law applies only to people who are legally eligible to own a gun.

"The same provisions apply," Walker said. "If someone's prohibited from possessing a firearm, say they're a felon, they are not able to possess a firearm the same way with a knife under the senses. But with a law abiding citizen, it just makes sense that if they're following the law, they're looking to protect themselves and their families, this gives them one more tool to do that as well as first responders."

Under this new bill people can also carry concealed knives of any length without a concealed carry license.

FORCE, or Firearm Owners, Ranges, Clubs and Educators, is an association chartered by the NRA. 

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One team even made their way from California.

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Twenty-two speakers from nearly two dozen professions presented at the school's fourth career day—the first one held in two years.

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This is the fifth year Treehaven has hosted the 5K and 10K races.

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MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker is set to sign a bill that would allow people to carry concealed switchblades and knives.

The governor plans to sign the measure Saturday afternoon at the National Rifle Association and Wisconsin FORCE's annual convention in Weston. Wisconsin FORCE, or Firearm Owners, Ranges, Clubs and Educators, is an NRA-chartered association that advocates for the right to bear arms.

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