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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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/08/2015

- Thousands of books, magazines and videos will move across Eagle River this week to a temporary home.  It'll help make space for nearly $3 million in renovations to the Olson Memorial Library.  What makes the project so special?  We'll explain tonight at 5.

- Plus, live cutting events give logging manufacturers the chance to better connect with their customers. It also gives them the opportunity to show off some amazing machines. We made it to a live cutting event near Crandon Wednesday. Tonight on Newswatch 12 we'll discuss the industry and advancements.

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

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CRANDON - Live cutting events give logging manufacturers the chance to better connect with their customers. It also gives them the opportunity to show off some amazing machines. Nortrax held a live cut event Wednesday near Crandon.

It showcased its modern tools for the logging industry. Longtime workers like Nortrax U.S. Cut to Length Manager Ken Knauf say the way wood gets cut is what really looks different these days.

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THREE LAKES - Pumpkin Fest celebrates fall in the Three Lakes. This year, a new event will emphasize the creative side.

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CASSIAN - Veterans who die in Wisconsin currently have no options for national cemetery options for burial in their home state.

A new national cemetery in Oneida County will soon change that.

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EAGLE RIVER - Traffic will once again flow freely in downtown Eagle River.

This week, workers laid what's called the "binder coat" of pavement on Division Street.

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WISCONSIN - Rural Northwoods schools face different challenges than others in the state.

Some of those include declining enrollment, high transportation costs, and broadband.

Wisconsin Association of School Boards' Executive Director John Ashley is in the Northwoods this week talking about some of those problems. 

Newswatch 12s Kaitlyn Howe spoke with him Thursday.

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MADISON - Wisconsin will host a Democratic presidential primary debate on Feb. 11.

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