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.
ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - Do bugs seem to be everywhere in your home, even though there's snow outside? One type of bug in Wisconsin spends the winter inside our houses! They look like Lady Bugs, but they are actually not native to this country.
"They're actually called a multi-colored Asian Lady Beetle. They can be anywhere from a pale yellow to a darker orange and they have black spots on them but you'll see some that don't have spots," says Kerri Ison, UW Oneida County Extension.
RHINELANDER - Our record breaking snow storm left more than 6,000 people across the Northwoods without power.
WPS had to rely on 20 extra crews from Green Bay, Wausau and Menominee to restore power.
But getting to the outages was a challenge.
A representative for WPS says workers are expecting even more outages to be reported.
"Not all of the back roads are plowed yet and that's where a lot of outages are located," said Leah Van Zile, WPS Community Relations leader. "Throughout the day as the temperatures warm, we expect to receive additional calls due to the unloading of snow off of the tree branches."
Eagle River had one of the highest number of customers affected by the outages.
Representatives for WPS say this was one of the hardest winters they've had to deal with.
"We've had some really, really severe wind chills which has really made the temperatures below zero. Typically, only in emergencies do we work in those conditions," said Van Zile. "But pretty much any other time, whether it's a rain storm, a snow storm, a wind storm, our guys are out there working, getting that power back on."
The number of outages dropped below 4,000 since earlier today.
If you're still without power to call 1800-450-7240.
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