Wednesday, July 1, 2015

EEI honors We Energies for Supplier Diversity Initiative

Our Supplier Diversity Initiative (SDI) has been recognized by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) for creative efforts to promote a diverse supplier base. We received EEI’s 2015 Supplier Diversity Innovation Award, along with Arizona Public Service Company (APS).

“EEI applauds APS and We Energies for their innovative ideas and new ways of doing business to advance and increase supplier diversity,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn.

Since 2002, the company’s SDI spending has increased 966 percent by using innovative approaches to build meaningful relationships with certified diverse businesses.

As part of the annual budget planning process, each internal business unit identifies contracts that will expire and other business opportunities for minority-owned and women-owned businesses. Also, supply chain buyers are required to conduct several matchmaker meetings per year with certified diverse businesses.

“From match-maker meetings to department-specific goals, we are committed to building relationships with diverse companies,” said Jerry Fulmer, WEC Energy Group vice president – supplier diversity. “By using innovative techniques, our Supplier Diversity Initiative has grown exponentially.”

We Energies is a WEC Energy Group company.

News release: EEI names 2015 Supplier Diversity Award winners

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Injured peregrine falcon needs surgery

Herbert at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
We have an update on Herbert, the peregrine falcon that was found with a dislocated elbow this spring. 

Herbert’s elbow was back in place for a time, but it has now dislocated again. This time, the elbow will not stay in place without surgery. 

Scott Diehl from the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at the Wisconsin Humane Society states in an email: “We are hoping to perform a surgery that would provide some stability to the joint.” 

Whether Herbert is able to be released back into the wild is in question, but he would have zero chance for release without this surgery.

Diehl said, “If he is ultimately nonreleasable but able to be retained as an educational bird, the surgery will be better for him comfort-wise and health-wise long term.”

We Energies Foundation has approved a funding request from The Humane Society’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center to aid in Herbert’s necessary surgery.

Herbert was born at our Valley Power Plant 11 years ago. Herbert was nesting at St. Joseph’s Hospital this year. Since his injury had taken him out of parenting duties, two of his chicks were moved to our Oak Creek Power Plant. They were adopted by the peregrine falcons that occupy that nest. The chicks were named Foster and Wheeler, and banded earlier this month.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Power plant falcons fly the coop

Artemis, Busby and Murdock at Milwaukee County 
Power Plant nest box.
Most of the peregrine falcon chicks born at our power plant nest boxes
this spring have fledged.

There are empty nest boxes in Pleasant Prairie, Oak Creek, Port Washington and Milwaukee at our Valley Power Plant.

But you still have a little time to watch the remaining chicks at two other sites. Our live falcon cam is focused on the Milwaukee County Power Plant in Wauwatosa where Artemis, Busby and Murdock are getting ready to fledge. They’re expected to take flight around July 2.

Chicks remain at our power plant in Marquette, Michigan, as well. Seppie, Wompus and Spencer also are expected to leave their nest box at our Presque Isle Power Plant around July 2. Hourly photos are available from their nest box at the link below.

Live falcon cam

Hourly photos

Friday, June 19, 2015

Keep your party balloons away from power lines

Summer is the time of year to have outdoor parties to celebrate a graduation or Father’s Day with a backyard barbeque. Please consider your special party decorations carefully because your choice could cause serious safety issues.

Mylar balloons tangled in our power lines.
Helium-filled metallic or Mylar balloons have caused more than a dozen power outages affecting more than 16,000 of our customers this year alone. The metallic surface of the balloon acts as a conductor that creates a short circuit in a power line.

“The balloons are basically aluminum foil filled with air,” said Grant Melcher, one of our troubleshooters.

Melcher has had several experiences with Mylar balloons on power lines. He says that most of the time, the balloons are found on power lines in residential areas. That is cause for great concern. Lines could fall across fences, in front of homes or right onto someone’s party.

“One time there was a violent explosion from contact with a balloon. It caused a fire and brought down the wires,” said Melcher. “We could hear the party going on near the scene.” Troubleshooters arrived at the location quickly and secured the safety of the neighborhood and themselves before they began repairs.

Dave Megna, director - system operations, says that the strings and streamers attached to the balloons also can be very dangerous. “If they are touching our equipment, they could be energized, so don’t touch them.”

Here are some safety tips when using metallic balloons:
  • Use caution and keep balloons away from power lines.
  • Make sure the balloons are tied to a weight securely.
  • Never release the balloons in the outdoors.
  • Never attempt to retrieve a balloon that has become entangled in a power line.
Melcher offers his own advice: “When the party is over, pop them and throw them in the trash.”

Celebrate safely!

More safety tips

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Interurban recreational trail has positive relationship with We Energies

Cyclists on the Interurban Trail. 
Courtesy Kurt Gering. 
Because weather is warmer, more cyclists are out enjoying rides. Southeastern Wisconsin has many recreation trails that bike enthusiasts can access for a fun-filled day of riding.

What you may not know is that many of these trails are on our properties, including utility right-of-ways that were first used as passenger rail lines.

In Ozaukee County, the 30-mile Interurban Trail follows the former Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company’s rapid transit railway that started in Milwaukee and made its way to Sheboygan in the early 1900s.

From 1905 to 1951, the rapid transit system made stops in many rural communities such as Brown Deer, Thiensville, Cedarburg, Grafton, Port Washington, Belgium, Cedar Grove, Oostburg and Sheboygan.
Interurban Trail.
Courtesy Ozaukee Interurban Trail website

According to the Ozaukee Interurban Trail website, the interurban line also was made famous for transporting African-American blues musicians to the main recording studio for Paramount Records recording label. The studio was first in Port Washington, and later moved to Grafton.

Andrew Struck, the director of Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department says that the collaboration on the Interurban Trail with We Energies has been wonderful.
I-43 Interurban trail bridge.
Courtesy Ozaukee Interurban Trail website

“The Interurban Trail has had a long-standing positive relationship with We Energies,” said Struck.

Our Property Management group works with local municipalities and counties with licensing recreational trails on We Energies right-of-ways.

“Once we license a trail, a municipality or county funds and constructs it,” said Julie Simmons, our right-of-way agent. ”We may approve other improvements along the trails such as kiosks, signage, benches and nature guides, as well as bigger-ticket items like bridges.”

Simmons points out the pedestrian/bike bridge that connects the trail on one side of Interstate 43 to the trail on the other side as an example.

“We were very excited to work with Ozaukee County on this project. Ozaukee County had a vision for a connection point and took this very challenging idea from inception to completion,” said Simmons.

We also have worked with the Interurban Trail to improve its safety. A just-completed project in Port Washington allows trail enthusiasts to ride along We Energies’ right-of-way instead of a busy highway.

Unlike many recreational trails in Wisconsin, the Ozaukee Interurban Trail is free for everyone. The trail is intended for year-round uses, including biking, in-line skating, walking, running and cross-country skiing. So, come out to the trail today!

Ozaukee Interurban Trail

Ozaukee Trailside Birding Guide

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Artemis: Goddess of the hunt and We Energies falcon

Nina Marks meets Artemis, held by Greg Septon
Artemis, Greek goddess of the hunt, is a perfect name for a bird of prey like the peregrine falcon. That name was chosen by 11-year-old Nina Marks, a special guest at a falcon banding at Milwaukee County Power Plant in Wauwatosa. 

Busby, Artemis and Murdock
Artemis has two brothers -- Busby and Murdock. The three were our final falcons to be named and banded this season. Murdock was named by employees at the power plant.

Busby was named by Peregrine Manager Greg Septon, in honor of his close friend, John Busby, who recently passed away. Busby was a wildlife artist whose work included peregrine falcon paintings and drawings.

A total of 16 peregrine falcon chicks were born at six of our power plants this year. In addition, two chicks were transferred from another Milwaukee-area site to our Oak Creek Power Plant after their father was found injured.

We have been involved in peregrine falcon recovery since the early 1990s. More than 200 falcons have been born at our power plants.

Learn more about our peregrine falcon program

Monday, June 15, 2015

Presque Isle Power Plant falcon named after peregrine manager

Seppie, Wompus and Spencer
Seppie, Wompus and Spencer are the latest We Energies power plant falcons to be named and banded. Our peregrine manager, Greg Septon, retrieved the chicks from their nest box atop our Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette, Michigan on Saturday. Power plant employees and their families were invited to watch Septon band the peregrine chicks and suggest names for the birds. Seppie was chosen in honor of Septon, who’s been managing our peregrine falcon recovery program since the early 1990s. Septon monitors our six nesting sites and nearly two dozen others throughout Wisconsin.

Peregrine falcon webcams