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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
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 03/29/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We'll show you scenes from the funeral and police processional for fallen Everest Metro Police Detective Jason Weiland who died in last Wednesday's shooting.

Last week the Oneida County Board approved a measure letting residents on Squash Lake form a lake district to fund the removal of Eurasian Water Milfoil. Tonight we tell you how the system works and how soon district members plan on forming a board.

And we'll show you what features will be added this summer to the Northwoods Zip Line Adventure Tours in Minocqua.

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

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MADISON - The Wisconsin Legislature's budget-writing committee is tackling roads funding, tax cuts and Medicaid on the second of three days of state agency briefings.

The Joint Finance Committee on Tuesday was also to hear from Attorney General Brad Schimel and the new secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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MADISON - Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Linda Seemeyer says the state should be rewarded for rejecting federal money to expand Medicaid.

Seemeyer testified Wednesday before the Legislature's budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. Gov. Scott Walker rejected the Medicaid expansion money and instead took a hybrid approach to make sure everyone at poverty level or below was covered.

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THREE LAKES - Thunder Lake Wildlife Area draws in birders and hunters alike.

The 3,000-acre marsh in eastern Oneida County is a critical breeding ground and migratory stop for birds like sandhill cranes and chestnut-sided warblers.

It's also become an important place to the Nicolet Bird Club of Three Lakes--so important that the club decided to adopt it.

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MANITOWISH WATERS - Days like Tuesday make you want to get outside and maybe go for a bike ride.

It's only a matter of time until bicyclists start hitting the trails, and the bike trails in Manitowish Waters are prepared for it.

The Uihlein family established a $2 million trust fund that will pay for the bike trail's maintenance in the town.

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RHINELANDER - A Northwoods Memorial Day service attracts hundreds of people, rain or shine.  But getting there isn't always easy for some.

This year, service organizers will offer free coach bus rides to the Union Grove Cemetery in Harshaw for its May 27 ceremony.  Rick Smith started the ceremony after going to his father's grave site on Memorial Day in 1997 and seeing no one else out there.

Ceremony treasurer Craig Lau says the service has grown from an informal gathering to a day with cannons, fly-overs, and music.

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RHINELANDER - The Oneida County Sheriff's Office is looking into reports of an armed home invasion in the Town of Pelican. The incident was reported Monday morning around 6:30.

The caller said a white male wearing black clothes entered a home along County Highway P. The man was described as tall and muscular.

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