NEWS STORIES

Local interest in solar energy growingSubmitted: 08/19/2013

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.



Story By: Lyndsey Stemm

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 IN OTHER NEWS
Asian Lady Beetles come out after winteringSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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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.

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Town members vote to move forward with purchasing landSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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MINOCQUA - Leaders on the Minocqua Town Board voted to buy lakefront land north of a park in town for nearly $300,000.

They needed approval from people in Minocqua first.

Community members unanimously approved the purchase Thursday night.

The land will most likely give room for Torpy Park to expand.

It could also mean extra parking and maybe even a public pier.

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Rhinelander food pantry volunteers Submitted: 04/17/2014

RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Area Food Pantry relies heavily on volunteers. Here is a look inside the operation.

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Meth lab suspects in court Submitted: 04/17/2014

RHINELANDER - Prosecutors believe four people arrested for keeping meth planned on sell the drug.

Police also think two of them were making meth at the home just north of Rhinelander.

Scott Dumpprope, Thomas Franz, Gerry Fredrick and Carrie Steinmetz were arrested Tuesday.

That's when the sheriff's office found meth, pot and a meth lab at Dumpprope's house.

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Man charged with attempted homicide could get all charges dismissedSubmitted: 04/17/2014

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RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander man will get a second chance after shooting his uncle.

At first, prosecutors charged 24-year-old Marcus Alsteens with attempted murder, but he might end up with a clean record.

Alsteens led police on a car chase through Oneida County in 2013 before being caught near Eagle River. That was after shooting his uncle at a Mason Street home in Rhinelander.

Oneida County District Attorney Michael Schiek initially charged him with attempted homicide, battery and two other charges.

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Record breaking snowfall knocks the power out Submitted: 04/17/2014

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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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Cleaning up the messSubmitted: 04/17/2014

RHINELANDER - Snow blowers became the weapon of choice across northern Wisconsin as snow piled deeper and deeper.

People had ten inches or more of snow to clear from driveways and sidewalks this morning.

Some may have stayed home today.

But those who needed to get out had to move the snow.

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