Monday, May 2, 2016

Falcon chicks arrive at Oak Creek Power Plant

The first falcon eggs of the season are hatching at our power plants. On May 1, two eggs hatched at our Oak Creek nest box, and by Monday morning, a third chick had arrived. Our webcam captured the trio being fed. If you look closely at the fourth egg, you’ll notice another chick trying to break through:


This is welcome news for our Oak Creek site because last year’s nesting attempt here failed. Dad Scott and mom Eclipse had four eggs that never hatched. A territorial battle had left the eggs unattended for too long. The pair still got to be foster parents though, caring for two chicks transplanted from another site where a parent was injured. Herbert, another We Energies falcon, is now an educational ambassador at the Wisconsin Humane Society. His offspring, Foster and Wheeler, were banded at the Oak Creek Power Plant last June.

Foster and Wheeler after banding last June.
Meanwhile, we’re still hoping for hatchlings at our other sites. Eggs at our Valley Power Plant were expected to hatch last week, but so far, nothing has happened. Greg Septon, our peregrine manager, says several of the sites he monitors are hatching late this year, perhaps due to the cold weather. We’re hopeful that we’ll see chicks arrive at our Valley and Port Washington sties very soon. Hatching at our final two sites – Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, and Marquette, Michigan – is expected to occur a little later.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Supporting Arbor Day activities

West Bend Arbor Day event.
Today is Arbor Day – founded in 1872 as a special day set aside for tree planting. We are involved in several community activities to support Arbor Day.

One of the events sponsored by the We Energies Foundation took place on Earth Day last week in West Bend. About 600 serviceberry tree saplings were purchased and distributed to fifth-grade students at the celebration. The students took the trees home to their families for planting.

Serviceberry trees are three-season trees that have white blossoms in the spring and red berries with orange leaves in the fall. They only grow to 15 feet, so they are perfect trees to plant to avoid power lines.

Today, we also will participate in programs in Fox Point, West Allis and Waukesha where we will provide information on safe digging, tree planting and tree trimming. Trees will be planted at the celebrations.

When you plan to plant a tree, remember these tips:
  • Plant trees that won’t interfere with power lines when fully grown. Small ornamental trees or shrubs that will not exceed 15 feet in height such as serviceberry, dogwood and low-growing evergreens are best to plant around power lines. 
  • Plant taller trees such as maple, basswood, burr oak, white pine or spruce, which grow to more than 40 feet, at least 50 feet from power lines.
  • Call 811 three days ahead of any planting to mark underground utilities such as power lines and natural gas pipes. This service is free.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

We Energies wins Arbor Day Foundation award

We Energies Forestry staff.
We Energies has been named a Tree Line USA winner for the 18th time by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Tree Line USA is a national program recognizing energy companies for practices that protect and enhance America’s urban forests. This program is a collaboration of the Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters.

The company achieved the award by meeting program standards such as sponsoring a tree-planting and public education program, maintaining a tree-based energy conservation program and helping homeowners choose appropriate  trees to plant near energy lines.

Visit our website to learn about tree trimming safety and conservation landscaping, and always remember to call 811 before you dig. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Watch our peregrine falcons on live webcam

Once again, you can watch our power plant falcons via live webcam. Our annual “falcon cam” has officially launched for the season at www.we-energies.com/falcons. The live feed is focused on our Valley Power Plant in Milwaukee where dad Hercules and mom, an unbanded female, have been incubating four eggs. They’re expected to start hatching any day now.


This year, we’re inviting the public to help name the chicks at our Valley Power Plant. Winners will get to visit the plant and see the chicks in person when they get their wildlife bands later this spring. Get details:


We also have nest boxes at power plants in Pleasant Prairie, Oak Creek, Port Washington – all in Wisconsin – and another one in Marquette, Michigan. Our live feed will switch between some of these sites, depending on activity in the nest boxes. Hourly photos also are available from each site. 

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, where we’ll post updates throughout the nesting season. You also can subscribe to our raptor blog and get updates sent right to your email inbox.

More than 220 peregrine falcons have been born at We Energies facilities since 1997, representing nearly 20 percent of Wisconsin’s peregrine population. But there’s still work to be done. Peregrines remain an endangered species in both Wisconsin and Michigan.

Name the falcon chicks at our Valley Power Plant!

We have an “egg-cellent” idea. Naming a peregrine falcon chick is not something you get to do “aviary” day.

Do you have the right creative “talont” to win our naming contest?

Artemis, Wompus, Xenon and Thunder Claw are some of the names chosen for We Energies peregrines in the past. Can you top those?

This year, we’re inviting the public to enter our chick naming contest. Peregrine falcon chicks are expected to arrive soon at our Valley Power Plant in Milwaukee. Keep tabs on the nest box through our live falcon cam at we-energies.com/falcons.

You could just “wing” it, but we suggest you put a little thought into your selection.

Tell us in 100 words or less, why you chose the name. We’ll review all entries and select winners. The following criteria will be considered:
  • Is the name creative?
  • Is the name descriptive of a falcon?
  • Is there a story behind the name?
  • Is the name gender neutral? (Sex of chicks is not yet known)
Entries must be received by May 12. Send your entry to us at: contest@we-energies.com.

Winners will be announced on May 13. Entrants can only win once. Winners will be invited to the Valley Power Plant to see the chicks get their wildlife bands. The banding date will be determined by We Energies.

*There is no guarantee all the eggs will hatch or all the chicks will survive. Winning names will be given to the chicks who receive wildlife bands on banding day.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

We Energies protects wood turtles

Friday, April 22 is Earth Day, and we’re celebrating by highlighting some of our environmental initiatives.

Sometimes, we encounter threatened and endangered species during our construction projects. The projects could include building a new natural gas line or installing new power lines. We need to be aware of the animals in our project zones.

Wood turtles are listed as a threatened species in Wisconsin. They prefer to nest in sand banks near rivers and streams, but they also are known to nest along roadsides, fields and gravel pits.

When we have a project has the potential to disturb a wood turtle habitat, we collaborate with the Department of Natural Resources to ensure we are taking all appropriate measures to avoid any impacts to the habitats. These measures include conducting surveys in advance of our projects to ensure our equipment will not come in contact with the turtles. We also have installed exclusionary fencing to prevent the turtles from entering our work zones, and we directionally drill to bore underneath the turtle’s habitat to prevent disruption.

As part of our protection and conservation of wood turtles, we assist Turtles For Tomorrow, a conservation program dedicated to habitat management and landowner education of rare reptiles and amphibians in Wisconsin. We have assisted with restoration of several nest sites near our hydroelectric facilities, as well as provided funding for a camera-monitoring and site-management project that will aid in monitoring nest predation, vandalism and hatching success.

Visit our blog series that features:
Peregrine falcons
Ospreys
Karner blue butterflies  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Saving Karner blue butterflies

Wisconsin is home to the largest remaining population of Karner blue butterflies in the world. They are a federally endangered species, due to their loss of habitat.

We Energies worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to develop and implement the Karner Blue Butterfly Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). This plan establishes a formal working process to conduct business operations for constructing and maintaining utility lines while maintaining, restoring and creating habitats for the Karner blues.

The HCP is unique in the country. From a utility standpoint, much of the work that occurs along utility corridors results in temporary disturbances to the Karner blue’s natural habitat.

Wild lupine is a perennial plant in the pea family with beautiful pink and blue flowers. This plant is essential to the survival of Karner blues, as it is the only food they eat as larvae. Without lupine, Karner blues are incapable of reproducing. Utility construction and maintenance projects remove brush along corridors allowing for lupine to grow and thrive.

The Karner Blue Butterfly HCP is working so well that it is now focusing efforts on recovery of the Karner blue butterfly population in Wisconsin. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the listed status of the species to “threatened,” or even delisted from federal protected status altogether.

Recently, We Energies restored more than 50 acres of habitat in the heart of the Karner blue range during the construction of the West-Central Lateral, a natural gas pipeline in Western Wisconsin. Continued monitoring and management of this area will continue for several years to ensure the restoration is a success.