Friday, January 18, 2019

Winter is here; keep you and your family safe and warm

Winter is a challenging time for safety and energy usage. Review these winter tips to be prepared and to keep yourself and your family safe and warm.

Energy safety
Staying safe around electricity and natural gas is important year round, but winter requires some special considerations:
  • Keep electric and natural gas meters as well as air vents clear of snow and ice. Use a broom or hands (not a shovel, salt or ice-melting chemical). 
  • If you smell natural gas, leave the area and call us at 800-261-5325 or call 911.
More energy safety tips

Power outage preparation
We work to maintain a reliable power delivery system, but severe weather and other events sometimes cause power outages that require many hours and even days to address. Be prepared and know what to do should a power outage occur:
Outage safety tips

Energy assistance
If you have questions about payment options, call our payment assistance line at 800-842-4565. Many customers in Wisconsin qualify for help in paying energy bills. If you qualify, apply now for energy assistance for the winter heating season. Learn more:
Energy assistance

Scammers
Scammers claiming to be from an energy company may call or show up on your doorstep demanding money. Don't let a scammer ruin your winter. Learn about these scammers and what to do:
Energy-saving tips
Here are some ideas to save money on heating:
  • Open shades, blinds and drapes to gain the sun’s heat during the day and close them at night to help retain heat. 
  • Adjust your thermostat downward when asleep or away. You can save as much as 10 percent a year on heating by turning your thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit from its normal setting (about 68 F in winter) for 8 hours a day. 
  • Leave the 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 (and use energy), whether or not heating is needed.
  • Turn your thermostat down to 55 F if using a fireplace. Older, wood-burning fireplaces tend to be inefficient and can be costly, drawing more heated air out of your home through the chimney than a fire can produce. So, turn the thermostat down when you cozy up in front of the fire. After the fire is out, close the flue damper to keep warm air in the house.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

We Energies launches largest approved solar energy program in Wisconsin

The new year is looking bright with more renewable energy thanks to an exciting new We Energies program called Solar Now. The Solar Now program will create 35 megawatts (MW) of clean energy, equivalent to taking nearly 30,000 cars off the road. This program is the largest approved solar energy project in Wisconsin.


Through the Solar Now program, We Energies will pay commercial, industrial, government and nonprofit customers to host solar panels on their roofs and property. We Energies will handle all installation, maintenance and operation of the solar equipment – providing a turnkey solution to customers wanting to participate in renewable generation.

While the program is aimed at large commercial and government host customers, all customers will benefit. The solar energy that is produced will help reduce fuel costs to all customers while also maintaining fuel diversity and reducing carbon emissions.

Solar Now is a pilot program that caps participation at 35 MW, with 10 MW reserved for nonprofit and government entities. A number of customers, including local governments and school districts, have already expressed strong interest in the program.

“Partnering with We Energies on this program would provide an opportunity for the school district to reduce its carbon footprint and reduce some of its energy costs,” David Weber, president of the Northland Pines School District, wrote in a letter to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) in support of the program.


New Berlin School District Chief Finance and Operations Officer Roger Dickson also wrote a letter of support: “The school district will benefit from the partnership through the opportunity to provide ‘real life’ experience to students on the production of solar power, including measurement and assessment of power and the distribution thereof.”

Outside of the benefits for customers, the Solar Now pilot will provide We Energies with valuable insight into operating distributed solar generation, experience that can be used in the future on other projects.

The PSCW gave We Energies the go-ahead to move forward with testing Solar Now and another new renewable energy program in December.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Scouts energized by Electricity Merit Badge clinic

The We Energies Public Service Building in Milwaukee was energized with activity as the 65th annual We Energies Electricity Merit Badge clinic for area Boy Scouts was held on Dec. 8.

The day began with an electric safety presentation by Marko Lucchesi, a supervisor in our electric construction maintenance group. The demonstration used a smaller-scale model of a street with homes, businesses, cars and people to show how each might come into contact with power equipment.

As part of the discussion, Lucchesi picked up a hot dog with insulated tongs and explained the similarities it has to a human: “Both have water, salt and meat.” He then touched the hot dog to live wires. It cooked from the inside out within seconds, surprising the scouts and showing why it’s important to avoid electric wires and equipment.

Lucchesi also talked to the group about how our employees stay safe. He displayed and allowed the scouts to explore the safety equipment that line mechanics use on a daily basis.

Pat Stiff, our vice president of coal generation and biomass, and a member of the Boy Scouts of America Three Harbors Council executive board, talked about his own experience as a scout. Stiff said he carries the lessons he learned as a scout with him today. He told the scouts to have fun and learn, and to be thankful for their parents and the volunteers who helped them at the event.

As part of the requirements to earn the electricity merit badge, the scouts showed their knowledge by completing several hands-on demonstrations to our employees. Some of these demonstrations included making and operating an electromagnet, completing an electrical home safety inspection, and demonstrating how to respond to an electrical medical emergency.

A written exam further tested their knowledge and skills of how electricity works and how to be safe around it. Scouts were tested on electrical terms and proper first aid procedures for a person exposed to a live wire.

Finally, the scouts presented their findings from a pre-event project to our employees who volunteered at the clinic.

Ted Sniegowski, manager – power generation, summed up our 65-year commitment to this program: “The more we can help young people explore technology and science, the better prepared they will be for the future.”

The electricity merit badge is one of the original merit badges adopted by the Boy Scouts in 1911.


Monday, December 10, 2018

12 hints to keep your house safe and your costs down this holiday season

Unlike an Elf on the Shelf, we can’t watch over your home this holiday season, but we can give you some gifts. Here are 12 helpful hints to make sure your holidays are safe and your home is cozy.

Hint 1: Holiday treats in the oven? Peek using the oven light, because opening the door can cause your energy use and cooking time to rise.

Hint 2: It’s the most wonderful time of the year to inspect your lights. Look for broken or frayed wires, and broken or loose connections to avoid potential fires or shocks. If you find problems, replace and repair.


Hint 3: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow – but please remove snow and ice from meters because it can stress meter piping, causing a natural gas leak.

Hint 4: Make it the hap-happiest season of all by lowering your thermostat seven to 10 degrees from its normal setting, especially when you are asleep or away from home more than 8 hours, to save as much as 10 percent a year on heating costs.

Hint 5: It’s a clinker! Don’t let the blasted furnace make your holiday story bitter. Clean or replace air filters in your heating system.

Hint 6: Feeling frosty? Use a space heater safely by keeping wrapped gifts, tissue paper and draperies at least six feet away to reduce a fire risk.

Hint 7: Gathering faithful friends and family near to you for a holiday feast? Using a small pan or pot on a large burner can waste more than 40 percent of the heat being produced.

Hint 8: Nothing says the holidays like a tasty casserole. If you use glass or ceramic pans for baking, you can turn down the oven temperature by 25 degrees and your dish will cook just as quickly.

Hint 9: Roasting chestnuts in your oven? As long as the oven door remains closed, enough heat will be stored inside to finish cooking your meal for the last few minutes.

Hint 10: Did Mister Snow Miser create icicles above your meter? You better watch out! They can fall and damage meter piping. Dripping water can also re-freeze, causing extra weight to build up on the meter.

Hint 11: As you deck the halls for the holidays, use weatherstripping and caulk to seal gaps around windows, doors and siding, which will improve your energy efficiency and leave you feeling jolly.

Hint 12: Getting ready for a holiday feast? Check that the flame is blue on your natural gas range to safely prepare your holiday dishes. Make sure your range top is clean as well.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Be festive and frugal with holiday lighting

Whether you are creating an outdoor holiday lighting display rivaling the Griswolds’ in Christmas Vacation or just lighting a simple indoor tree, we want to help you do it safely and efficiently.

Safety

Inspection: Always inspect your lights each year. Look for broken or frayed wires, and broken or loose connections to avoid potential fires or shocks. If you find problems, replace or repair.

Weather: Wait for a dry day to install (and remove) electrically powered outdoor decorations.

LEDs: Switch to LEDs, not only for efficiency, but also for safety. You can use up to 25 strings connected end to end into one wall socket without overload. With incandescent strings, limit each socket to three strings.

Cords: Use extension cords rated for low temperature and outdoor use when setting up outside displays. Keep connections off the ground and hang sockets downward or seal connections to prevent water from getting in.

GFCI: For best protection, plug outdoor lights and decorations into outlets with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI).

Power lines: When decorating outdoors, look for power lines. Never throw a string of lights or other decorations into trees near power lines. Keep ladders, equipment and yourself at least 10 feet away.

More holiday electrical safety information:
Electric Safety Foundation

Efficiency

LEDs: Energy-saving LED lighting is much more efficient than old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. They also last much longer, have a lower temperature and resist breakage.

Timers: Put timers on your outdoor displays to automatically shut them off overnight.

Calculate: Learn about holiday lighting and decoration costs with our calculator.


Monday, December 3, 2018

We Energies Foundation and Discovery World create energy experience exhibit

Discovery World recently energized its new Power On exhibit, which allows visitors to explore the generation and transformation of energy and the impact it has on our world.

The We Energies Foundation partnered with Discovery World in developing the exhibit, contributing $2 million.

Power On, which opened in mid-October, consists of multiple interactive exhibits that enable guests to generate energy and explore some of the important energy concepts that permeate our everyday lives. In addition, Discovery World is developing a new STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and math), energy-focused educational curriculum with We Energies and other community partners to complement this engaging and fun permanent exhibit.

“The energy experience allows guests to engage in all kinds of physical activities that are connected to the most important topics and concepts around energy. This powerful, often unseen force will become better understood and appreciated through these highly interactive experiences,” said Discovery World President and CEO Joel Brennan. “Alongside our partners from We Energies, we’re excited to bring an exhibit to our community that demonstrates how humans have harnessed different types of energy through technological innovations, scientific discovery, and persistent curiosity about the world around us.”

Children and their families are able to touch lightning, explore how wind turbines work, discover how to meet the energy needs of a city, play with invisible light energy, experiment with gravitational potential energy, and a whole lot more. The energy experience is accessible and engaging for visitors of all ages and levels of learning from toddlers to grandparents. It also provides a unique experience for school groups and engages them directly with science experiments and activities to inspire a lifelong interest in STEM as well as the potential career opportunities associated with the energy industry.

“We are pleased and excited to partner with Discovery World to invite families and students to interact with the vital force that powers their daily lives. We’re hoping Power On inspires the next generation of engineers and innovators who will be integral to the success of our industry,” said Beth Straka, vice president of the We Energies Foundation and senior vice president – corporate communications and investor relations of WEC Energy Group, the holding company of We Energies.

Several of our employees consulted with Discovery World as various components of the exhibit were planned and developed.

Photo courtesy of Discovery World
Frank Dombrowski, one of our principal environmental consultants, said Discovery World’s staff made good use of our input and suggestions. “The final products not only turned out to be a fun experience for visitors but also technically accurate,” he said.

Kyle Hoops, our director of power generation support, echoed Dombrowski’s thoughts on the relationship we had with Discovery World in designing the Power On exhibit.

“Their staff was very professional and highly motivated to make an entertaining and fun exhibit, but they also wanted it to be factual,” he said. “They accurately depicted our business, and the result was a home run.”

Visit Discovery World’s website for more information:

Discovery World


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Our hallmark of reliability recognized again

In the dictionary, a hallmark is defined as a distinguishing characteristic, trait or feature. Reliability has become our hallmark. For the eighth year in a row, we have been named “Best in the Midwest” for reliability.

PA Consulting presents ReliabilityOneTM awards annually to energy companies that achieve outstanding reliability performance and excel in delivering the most reliable electric service to their customers.

“Our consecutive ReliabilityOneTM awards are a testament to the skill and dedication of our employees, and to the investments we’ve made to ensure reliable, efficient service for our customers,” said Kevin Fletcher, president – WEC Energy Group, parent company of We Energies.

Kevin Fletcher, president – WEC Energy Group, and 
Dave Megna, vice president – Wisconsin System Operations.
Our most recent award is the 11th in the past 13 years in the Midwest, one of six regions in the performance review. 

The review is based primarily on system reliability statistics measuring customer outage frequency and duration. Companies who perform well in those measures then undergo an on-site certification process for its policies, processes and systems related to reliability.

In recent years, we’ve made investments to strengthen our reliability by rebuilding hundreds of miles of our electric distribution network, including wires, poles and transformers. The result? Our outage restoration time was 50 percent better than the national average in 2017.

We’re happy to win the award again but more happy for our customers who rely on us for having power when they need it.