Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Heroes among us — We Energies crews save men trapped by trees after recent storms

We Energies employee Mike Mathu was working in Royalton, a small town in Waupaca County, in late July when he heard a cry for help. A man nearby was partially trapped under a tree.

“The tree seemed to be thousands of pounds and couldn’t be lifted off,” said Mathu.

Mathu and his colleagues, Bob Suttner, Keith Reinert and Jeremy Peterson, were restoring power after tornados and high winds ripped down power poles and knocked trees and branches into homes and power lines. When the men heard someone was in trouble, they grabbed their chainsaws and rushed to help.

“What seemed like forever was probably only five minutes,” Mathu remembered.



Through teamwork, the crew cut the tree and lifted it off the trapped man.

When asked why they jumped into action, the men downplayed their heroics, saying that they did what anyone would do in that situation.

‘I knew he was in trouble’

Brian Hunter, an employee for the company, ran across a similar scene while he was working on a dead-end road in Pearson, a small town in Langlade County. Like the crew in the Fox Valley, Hunter was helping to restore power after the July storm when he switched from utility worker to life saver.

As Hunter worked on damaged equipment, he saw a man get pinned by a tree while using a tractor to remove it.

“I knew he was in trouble,” said Hunter.

He was indeed in trouble; the tree was across the man’s throat. Hunter jumped on the tractor and put it in reverse, hoping to relieve pressure on the man’s neck. He then grabbed his saw and cut the tree off the tractor, eventually freeing the man.

Hunter said the man thanked him for saving his life.

“I’m not sure what would have happened if I wasn’t nearby. I was just glad I could help him,” Hunter said.



Crews help across Wisconsin

Nearly 1,000 workers from We Energies, Wisconsin Public Service and utility crews around the Midwest teamed up to rebuild circuits and remove debris from equipment that was destroyed by hurricane-force winds and intense lightning after the July storms. They replaced or repaired over 700 utility poles, nearly 500 transformers and 80 miles of wire.

This small army worked together throughout Wisconsin’s most devastated areas to restore power to over 270,000 We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service customers.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

We Energies announces huge solar energy project

We Energies and Madison Gas and Electric (MGE), have announced a new partnership to acquire the remaining 150 megawatts (MW) of the Badger Hollow Solar Farm. We Energies and MGE filed a joint application today with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. We Energies will own 100 MW, and MGE will own 50 MW.

This is We Energies first single site solar project in company history, it joins the growing list of renewable projects the company is pursuing as it looks to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by approximately 80% by 2050.

According to experts, the 100 MW generated on site is enough electricity to power more than 20,000 homes.



“This is another significant step in our transition to a clean energy future,” said Kevin Fletcher, president and CEO – WEC Energy Group, the parent corporation of We Energies. “Along with the environmental benefits of solar energy, this purchase will lower costs to customers over the life of the project.”

“This addition of cost-effective solar energy will help MGE reach our goal of net-zero carbon electricity by the year 2050 while also helping us to manage long-term costs to our customers,” said Jeff Keebler, MGE chairman, president and CEO. “This is yet another step in our active transition toward greater use of cleaner energy sources to serve our community.”

If regulators approve this acquisition, this phase of the Badger Hollow Solar Farm would begin generating electricity in 2021.

Badger Hollow Solar Farm
Badger Hollow is a 300 MW solar project located in southwestern Wisconsin, in Iowa County. The project is being developed by Chicago-based Invenergy, North America's largest privately held renewable energy company.

In May, MGE and Wisconsin Public Service (WPS), a subsidiary of WEC Energy Group, received regulatory approval to own a combined total of 150 MW at Badger Hollow. MGE will own 50 MW, and WPS will own 100 MW of this first phase of the project. Commercial operation of this phase is expected by the end of 2020.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Chubbs named new safe digging ambassadog

Chubbs, a 5-month-old pug from Milwaukee, is our new ambassadog! His owners say he’s always on the move and loves getting into trouble. Now he’ll help keep our customers out of trouble by starring in a new ad to promote safe digging:


Chubbs’ ad will be on display at Energy Park at the Wisconsin State Fair. Stop by to see it and get your picture taken!

He’ll also be featured on digital billboards in the Milwaukee area on 811 day – Sunday, Aug. 11. 811 is the number to call at least three days before you dig. A utility locating service will come out to mark the locations of underground utilities on your property for free.



Whether you’re planting a tree, installing fence posts or digging for other reasons, you could be putting yourself in danger if you strike an underground natural gas or electric line. So listen to Chubbs and doggone it, call 811 before you dig!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Portable electric generator safety tips

Reliable electric service is a priority for everyone. However, power outages may occur for various reasons, such as weather, equipment failures, car-pole accidents, etc. Portable generators provide significant benefits when used properly. 


Here are some safety tips for installing and operating portable electric generators:
  •  The portable electric generator should be the correct size, with a slightly larger output than the power level needed to operate all the equipment that is connected to it. The generator and connected equipment can be damaged if an inappropriately sized generator is used.
  •  Do not connect a portable generator directly to a building’s wiring or plug the generator into an electrical outlet. This will cause a “backfeed” condition where the power from the generator will flow through the building’s wiring and onto the utility distribution system. This is extremely dangerous to utility line mechanics when repairing downed power lines, as they will be unaware of any “live” wires. In addition, when power is restored, it can feed directly into the portable generator, causing severe damage to the generator and any appliances plugged into it. In order to prevent backfeed or equipment damage when power is restored, have a licensed electrician install a transfer switch to isolate the building wiring from the utility distribution system.
  • Use properly sized and rated power cords to connect equipment to the portable generator. Use heavy duty, outdoor-rated, grounded extension cords that are in good operating condition.
  • Never operate a generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed area. The generator uses an internal combustion engine and emits potentially deadly carbon monoxide. Make sure the generator is vented properly in a well ventilated outdoor area.
  •  Never refuel an operating or hot generator. Gasoline spilled on a hot engine could ignite. Always have a fully charged, approved fire extinguisher near the generator. 
  • Keep children away from portable generators at all times.
  • Portable generators are a great convenience but, like any piece of equipment, present many safety hazards. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions completely to ensure your generator is maintained and operated in a safe and proper manner.
For more information about generator safety, visit our website

Monday, July 22, 2019

Line crews working around the clock to restore power

We are continuing to recover from some of the most powerful storms to hit central and eastern Wisconsin in the past 20 years. Winds above 80 miles an hour caused extensive damage to our networks in the Fox Valley.

Thanks to the hard work of the field and support personnel, we have restored power to more than 95,000 customers.

We have a small army of field personnel working on restoration. Additional crews are arriving today. We expect to have almost all customers in the Appleton and Waupaca areas back in service by late Tuesday.



We thank our customers for their patience and our crews appreciate the prayers for their safety that have also been conveyed in calls and social media messages.

We remind people who come across downed power lines and damaged utility equipment to call 800‑662‑4797 immediately.






Friday, July 19, 2019

Doggone It! Cast your vote for our next safe digging ambassador

Voting is underway to select the next star of our safe digging campaign. The winner will help us promote an important safety message: Doggone It! Call 811 at least three days before you dig.

Ten finalists have been selected from dozens of photos sent in by We Energies customers. Now you can vote for your “top dog” through July 25.

Tyson is a 4-year-old Westie Highland terrier from Franklin. His owners say it’s hard to get mad at such a sweet face, even if he’s digging where he shouldn’t.

Sully is a Great Pyrenees from Campbellsport. His owner says digging is his passion.

Kaiser is from St. Francis. His owner calls him pure perfection.

Theo, a 2-year-old German shorthaired pointer from Wauwatosa, loves anything and everything outdoors.

Holly, a 13-year-old greyhound from Waukesha, loves digging so much, her owners gave her a designated digging spot.

Zeus, a 1-year-old boxer from Sussex, enjoys running laps around the yard and digging.

Simba is 2 years old and lives in Kenosha. His owner says he is very proud of the holes he digs and a great help in the garden.

Chubbs, a 5-month-old pug from Milwaukee, loves getting into trouble and is always on the move.

Bea is a 3-year-old beagle from Hartford. Her owners say she loves to dig.

Gunnar, from Grand Chute, is happiest spending time with his family and loves camping.

The winning dog will be featured in a safe digging billboard blitz Sunday, Aug. 11 – 811 Day. His or her owners will also receive tickets to the Wisconsin State Fair where they can see their dog’s face on display at Energy Park, a special section of State Fair where you can learn more about We Energies and enjoy some free family fun. 

About 811
Whether you’re planting a tree or installing a fence post, you could be putting yourself in danger if you strike an underground natural gas line or electrical cable. Call 811 at least three days before you dig to have the location of buried utility lines marked – and to keep you and your family safe.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Stay cool with these money-saving tips

To help you stay on the sunny side of life, we have some tips to help you save money on your summer energy bill.



No cost

Keep the sun out. Close blinds, shades and drapes on the sunny side of your home during the day to keep the house cooler.

Adjust your thermostat. When at home, set it a few degrees higher to save energy. When you are away, adjust your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees higher than your normal setting for at least 8 hours a day. This can help you save 10% on your energy bill.

Manage your energy costs with Budget Billing. Budget Billing spreads your annual charges more evenly over 12 months. 

Turn down the heat by delaying heat-producing activities such as cooking, drying and ironing until evenings or when the weather cools.

Leave thermostat’s fan switch on “auto” so the fan only runs when the furnace runs. Setting the fan to “on” causes it to run all the time.

Low cost

Seal cracks and gaps around windows, doors and siding with caulk and weather stripping. This keeps cool air in and hot air out.

Use standing fans, even if you have air conditioning. Circulating cool air makes it feel cooler.

Install a programmable thermostat for your comfort and convenience. It can adjust the air conditioning for times you typically are away and times you typically are home. You also can program it to reduce cooling when you go to sleep and turn it back up before you wake up in the morning.

Schedule regular tune-ups for your air conditioner. Seasonal maintenance keeps equipment running safely and efficiently, and saves money in the long run.