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Energy Saving ChallengeSubmitted: 01/30/2013
Story By Ryan Abney


RHINELANDER - Going "green" seems like a popular phrase these days.
For some of us, that's as easy as reusing grocery bags and turning down the heat.

But for bigger organizations, it can be a bigger and more expensive transition.

That's why Wisconsin Public Service decided to make going green a competition.
Leader Leah Van Zile is the W-P-S Community Relations Leader.She said the challenge was created to not only educate but to entertain.

"There's a lot of information about ways to reduce your energy use and ways to save on your bill, but it's not really an exciting topic.So we thought of a way to really encourage community members to become excited about energy, and we thought pairing it with a grant opportunity with non-profits might be a neat spin a new avenue to increase energy awareness in the communities."

The Retired Senior Volunteer Program was one organization to earn a 750-dollar grant. By just switching out light bulbs, she's noticed a HUGE difference.

"I found out myself that if you don't have LED lights the average cost is 9-dollars a month just for a couple strings of lights, LED's is 90-cents...so what a savings."

The W-P-S serves over 700-thousand electric and natural gas customers in Northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.


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According to SunVest Solar, this is the largest per capital solar array installation in the Midwest. Tribal Administrator Jeff Ackley, Jr., says 50 homes and 17 businesses have solar panels.

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"I thought it would put us on the map," Ackley said.

Project leaders think the panels can produce up to 85 percent of power in homes and between 20 and 60 percent for businesses.

"It will be significant savings all around for the community," Ackley said. "From rough crunchings of numbers we're looking at probably saving between $60,000 and $80,000 per year on energy usage."

The first batch of panels turned on in November, and some people say they've already seen the savings.

"Some are seeing up to $100 in savings just after that first month," Gusse said. "So they'll see much more per month savings as they go on."

Gusse said the panels don't produce as much power in the winter as they will in the summer, but residents still save money.

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