Friday, May 22, 2015

We Energies workers fight house fire

Troubleshooter Randy Willms and troubleshooter in training Bill Becker were coming back to the Racine Service Center after a routine job when they noticed something that wasn’t quite the routine.  Black smoke was billowing in the air.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Greening
They headed towards the smoke and discovered a house fire. The home was  just a ½ mile from the Racine Service Center.  Springing into action, they used garden hoses from neighboring houses to subdue the flames. Randy Willms said the fire was attacking the fence and making its way up to the house.

The South Shore Fire Department arrived a short time later and extinguished the fire. 

“The quick thinking of the We Energies employees slowed the fire, and prevented it from spreading to the attic,” said South Shore Fire Department Division Chief Mark Pierce.

Willms and Becker also supported the situation by turning off the electric service to the home.

Randy Willms said that he just felt the need to jump into action.

“I would do the same thing for my own neighbor,” Willms said.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Despite colder than normal winter, residents saved on winter heating costs

This winter was the third coldest in the past 30 years and it was colder than nine of the most recent 10 winters. Still, our typical customer paid less for heating this winter than all but two winters in the past decade.  

For the six-month heating season that ended April 30, heating costs for a typical customer were $596, down 24 percent, or $187, from the $783 dollars in the winter of 2013-14.

A major factor in the savings this year was the price of natural gas. Abundant natural gas supplies and reduced demand from the previous winter helped keep prices moderate.


We Energies receives award for sustainability practices

Bruce Ramme, vice president – environmental, accepted a BizTimes IQ Award on behalf of the company at an awards luncheon Wednesday. BizTimes Media recognized We Energies for its efforts to recycle and reuse the combustion products from our coal and biomass power plants.

Bruce Ramme, vice president - environmental
Combustion products like fly ash, bottom ash and gypsum are being beneficially used in the construction and agriculture industries. Fly ash is an important component in concrete and has been used in projects such as the Milwaukee Art Museum and Miller Park. Bottom ash often is applied as a road base and is currently being used in the I-94 rebuild between Wisconsin and Illinois. Gypsum is used to make wallboard and plaster and also is applied to farmers’ fields as a soil amendment. Last year, the company provided more than one million tons of combustion products for beneficial use.  

“Milwaukee-based We Energies is committed to keeping its waste products out of landfills indefinitely, and serves as the industry-leading example when it comes to recycling and repurposing waste products from its facilities,” BizTimes wrote in a recent article.

Friday, May 15, 2015

We make moving easier

We offer convenient online and phone options for starting, stopping or transferring your energy service.

Start, stop or transfer energy service online
Use our website to start, stop or transfer energy services within our service territory. Online processing requires at least two business days. To use our online service, you must be:

• A residential homeowner or renter.
• Current with your energy payments.
• Willing to provide your Social Security number and previous address (to start service only).

Do it all in one call
You can call us anytime at 800-242-9137. With just one call, we can arrange natural gas and electric service, as well as phone, cable and more. Best of all, it’s free.

Now’s the time to make changes to your account
Moving is the perfect time to make changes to your account. We offer billing and payment options and energy efficiency information to save you time and money. Visit our website or call 800-242-9137 for more information.

New life for hydro plant

Our Twin Falls hydroelectric plant, located on the Menominee River near Iron Mountain, Michigan, has been producing electricity using the river’s natural flow since 1912. Last year, we began a project to rebuild the 6-megawatt (MW) facility. A new powerhouse with modern, efficient turbines and generators will replace the existing facility.

New technology will allow us to increase the amount of renewable energy produced at the hydroelectric plant to 9 MW and will incorporate design features to enhance fish protection. Construction will occur on the Wisconsin side of the river, directly across from the current powerhouse. Excavation for the new powerhouse is on schedule, and we expect the major structures and turbines to be installed late this year. Commercial operation is expected mid-2016. Demolition and removal of the existing facility will follow commercial operation of the new powerhouse.

Our generation fleet includes 13 hydroelectric plants that produce about 86 MW of renewable electricity annually.

Get outage information online

Example of outage map information.
Our outage map provides information on outages throughout our service area. You can view outages by communities or regions. You can see:

• Number of customers affected.
• When outage was reported.
• Cause, if known.

The outage map also provides restoration updates if we experience a major storm.

The outage map updates every 15 minutes and displays on mobile devices.

Peregrine falcon injured

Herbert, a peregrine falcon that had been born at our Valley Power Plant 11 years ago is recovering after being found injured in the backyard of a Wauwatosa home. 

Herbert is being treated at the Wisconsin Humane Society’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, where vets discovered he has a dislocated elbow and a shot from a pellet gun embedded in his abdomen.

The pellet is believed to have been there for a while and is not related to the elbow injury.

Herbert has nested at several locations around Milwaukee. Most recently, he was nesting at St. Joseph’s Hospital with his mate DJ. Herbert and DJ incubated four eggs this spring. Recently, all four hatched. Peregrine parents take turns incubating eggs, hunting and feeding the young. In Herbert’s absence, DJ was left alone to do the job of both parents.

For the best survival of the chicks, Peregrine Falcon Manager Greg Septon transported two of Herbert’s chicks to our Oak Creek Power Plant to be cared for by female, Eclipse, and male, Scott. This spring, Eclipse and Scott incubated four eggs at our Oak Creek site, but they never hatched. Another falcon tried taking over the nest box, and the territorial battle left the eggs unattended too often. Now, Eclipse and Scott still have a chance to be parents and have adopted two of Herbert’s chicks as if they are their own.

We may never know how Herbert injured his elbow, but it appears he will recover during the next several weeks, according to experts at the rehabilitation center.

Also of concern was the pellet found by the veterinarians. This is not the first time a peregrine falcon has been shot. In 2014, Madame X, a female falcon from the Milwaukee County Power Plant was found shot in West Allis. After many months of recovery, Madame X was released back to the wild.

Peregrine falcons are endangered species in Wisconsin. They also are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Act. Shooting a peregrine falcon is a serious crime, punishable by jail time and fines.

We have been involved in Wisconsin’s peregrine falcon recovery effort since the early 1990s and have nest boxes installed at six power plants, where more than 200 peregrines have been born.