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NEWS STORIES

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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 IN OTHER NEWS

RHINELANDER - The Pioneer Park Historical Complex in Rhinelander opened Saturday for the season.

More than 75 people came to check out the museum in the first two hours it was opened.

It takes a while for workers to get used to working at the complex again.

"We haven't done this since last October, September, you know, and so it's like 'oh okay, how do I do this?'" says Pioneer Park Historical Complex Coordinator Aprelle Rawski.

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LAND O' LAKES - The Land O Lakes Area Artisans (LOLA) Center went through some remodeling for its classroom.

After a few months, the classroom is finally finished, and it's being dedicated to a woman who left a big impact on the community.

Friends and family got together to remember Sandra Brown, who shared her love of art with the Land O Lakes community. She passed away in 2010.

Sandra gave her time and skills to areas that didn't have art programs, and they found a way to show their appreciation.

"The space has been enlarged greatly," said LOLA President Lynn Richie. "It was a coffee shop originally. And it's being dedicated to Sandra Hardy Brown, who was instrumental in bringing us money through a memorial fund when she passed away, and it helped kick start our art classes."

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WOODRUFF - Two events in Woodruff helped raise money for two local groups.

On Saturday there was a craft fair and car show at the Woodruff Town Hall.

The Dr. Kate Museum organized the craft fair.

The money made went to a scholarship the museum gives out.

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EAGLE RIVER - One popular Northwoods tourist destination wants to make it easier for visitors to find information about all the attractions the community offers.

The Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center unveiled a new website design recently.

Chamber leaders wanted to make it more convenient for visitors who are already in the area to find something to do.

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WAUSAU - Police in Wausau want to find the man who held up a convenience store overnight.

About 1:30 this morning, The Store gas station on Stewart Avenue was robbed by a man  who had a t-shirt wrapped around his face to hide his identity.

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BOULDER JUNCTION - As the weather gets warmer and fishing season comes into full swing, many people will head out on the water. If you're looking for a little help to snare that big catch, the Boulder Junction Chamber of Commerce is offering its first free fishing seminar Saturday night.

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EAGLE RIVER - You can get out on the water and help a good cause this weekend. Wildwood Outdoor Adventures will sponsor Paddle Fest on Saturday, May 23

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