Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Use energy wisely this Thanksgiving

If you’re preparing Thanksgiving dinner and entertaining friends and family this year, consider these money-saving tips to control your energy costs.
  • Keep oven door closed. Use the window and light to peak at your bird. Every time you open the oven, the temperature inside drops as much as 25 degrees, delaying the progress and adding expense.
  • Check oven temperature. An oven thermometer is a great way to check out how hot your oven really gets. Many ovens operate at temperatures different than the setting. Test your oven temperature at several settings (325, 350, 375 and 400 degrees F) to find out if your oven runs hot or cool and adjust your settings accordingly. 
  • Clean your reflectors. Keep electric stove burner reflectors free from grime. Clean or replace them.
  • Match burner to cookware size. Use the right-size pot or pan to reduce heat loss, maximize energy efficiency and heat evenly. 
  • Use convection. If your oven has a convection feature, use it to circulate heated air around the food, reducing required temperature and cooking time.
  • Use microwave. Microwave cooking is fast and uses less energy than an oven or stove.
  • Use slow cooker. Although cooking time is longer, slow cookers use less energy than ovens. 
  • Use lids. When using the stove top, put lids on pots and pans to speed heating and to retain heat. 
  • Turn down furnace. If you have the oven going and dishes on the stove, you probably can turn the heat down a few degrees. The heat from your oven along with your guests should add considerable heat to your home. 
  • Use dishwasher. Only hand wash items not dishwasher safe. Dishwashers save your time, energy and water. Always wait for a full load before washing. Save more energy by stopping the heated drying and opening the door for air drying. 
  • Cool leftovers. Cover and allow hot items to cool before placing into refrigerator so it doesn’t need to work as hard. 
More money-saving tips

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Keep natural gas meters, vents clear of snow, ice

When snowfall is heavy, remember to keep your furnace vents and natural gas meters clear of snow and ice.

Keeping furnace intake and exhaust vents clear of snow and ice is an important safety precaution to prevent build up of carbon monoxide inside homes and buildings. A blocked vent also can affect the performance of the furnace, which may not run properly or at all when the intake or exhaust vent is blocked.

As for natural gas meters, you may not think about that often, but we ask that you keep your meter clear of snow and ice for safety. Accumulated snow and ice place stress on meter piping, which can damage equipment and cause a gas leak. Keeping the meter clear also allows our employees to properly service the meter in case of emergency and keeps it visible to snowplows when those meters are in close proximity to alleys or other areas subject to plowing.

To avoid meter problems:
  • Keep meters clear of snow and ice; make sure snow isn't covering meter. 
  • Always shovel away from meter. 
  • Take care when using snow thrower or plow near meter. 
  • Use a broom to clear snow and ice from equipment. 
  • Avoid kicking or hitting meter to break away built-up snow or ice. 
  • Remove icicles that may drip water onto meter.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Backyard greenhouse causes morning power outage

Strong winds and rain passed through our service territory over the past couple of days. Our crews have been busy. They have restored power to 14,500 customers over the last 24 hours.

We often see tree branches come in contact with our equipment and cause outages. Other unusual debris, however, also can become entangled in our wires.

This morning, our crews discovered a small greenhouse entangled in our wires on the south side of Milwaukee. High winds caused the greenhouse to flip into the wires, causing a power outage.

About 1,400 customers were affected by the incident. All but one had power restored within 45 minutes.

This incident did not cause downed lines, but if you come across downed power lines, or anything touching those lines, stay at least 25 feet away and call 911.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veteran relates military experience and current role in power generation

Marine veteran and 17-year We Energies employee, Joe Griffin currently works as manager – power generation support in Oak Creek. What might surprise you: He sees many similarities between his current role and work during his deployment aboard Naval shipping.

Joe Griffin (last on the right, kneeling) in Liberia
“Some of the same equipment and procedures we had in the military are very similar to power generation equipment and procedures,” said Griffin.

A team focus about health and safety is as important to We Energies as it is to the Navy/Marine Corps team.

“In the military, you are one big family. We Energies is one big family, too. You have to rely on the person next to you to stay safe. It’s no different than when I was deployed Naval shipping,” added Griffin.

Griffin was a sergeant in the Marines and spent most of his career in the military police. He also was deployed in the Mediterranean to conduct naval exercises with U.S. allies. In addition, he was deployed to Monrovia, Liberia, where he was part of a noncombatant evacuation of U.S. civilians during the First Liberian Civil War in 1990.

Nov. 11 is Armistice Day, more commonly known as Veterans Day. The day celebrates and honors America’s veterans for their willingness to serve. We Energies has a history of commitment to veterans with generous contributions to Stars and Stripes Honor Flight and Fisher House Wisconsin.

A few years ago, Griffin represented We Energies at a check presentation at Fisher House Wisconsin, where military and veterans’ families will soon be able to stay while loved ones receive treatment at the Clement J. Zablocki V.A. Medical Center in Milwaukee. Fisher House Wisconsin broke ground in June 2014 and is expected to be completed soon.

Fisher House Wisconsin has been a featured charity in We Energies’ Safety Charity Challenge. In 2014, Fisher House won three out of four Safety Charity Challenge votes, securing a total of $30,000 from the We Energies Foundation. Safety Charity Challenge donations are made when employees help the company meet quarterly safety goals.

“It was a natural fit for us, because of the number of veterans who work for We Energies. We know what veterans have gone through. We know what families have gone through, and it was an excellent choice for us,” said Griffin.

We salute Griffin and the many other veterans in the We Energies family this Veterans Day.

Veterans Day: Transitioning from the military

Nov. 11 is Armistice Day, more commonly known as Veterans Day. The day is set to celebrate and honor America’s veterans for their willingness to serve. We Energies has a history of commitment to our veterans in a variety of ways, such as Fisher House Wisconsin and Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

Cody Hughes pictured with his wife
We Energies has a long tradition of recruiting transitioning military to fill its employee ranks. Cody Hughes, operations supervisor at West Allis Operations Center, is one of the many veterans to make that transition.

Hughes started his military career in the Navy ROTC at Purdue University. He had a strong internal drive to serve his country. A tradition of serving the country and community runs in his family. His father is a firefighter and his grandfather was in the Army Reserves.

Hughes joined the Navy and served two tours overseas in the Persian Gulf and the Horn of Africa. He did many jobs during his six years in the Navy, but the job that helped him the most with his transition to We Energies was as an engineering officer on a destroyer.

“Part of the engineering background helped with my transition into We Energies, but mostly the Navy teaches you to be a leader and gives you a diverse skill set,” said Hughes.

At a job fair for transitioning from the military, Hughes met with a number of different employers; We Energies particularly caught his eye. He was hired to work in bulk material handling. Hughes moved up the ranks to supervisor in major projects.

Hughes added, “We Energies has a strong commitment to military. In certain work areas, working here was a natural progression for me and for other people like me.”

We salute Cody Hughes and the many other veterans in the We Energies family on this Veterans Day.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Cookie Book features recipes from 50 states

Special edition celebrates ‘The Holidays across America’

The 2015 We Energies Cookie Book takes customers on a culinary cross-country tour. From New York to Wisconsin to California, the newest edition of the Cookie Book features recipes from across the United States.

Titled “The Holidays across America,” the 2015 Cookie Book includes 51 recipes – one from every state and Washington D.C. The recipes were submitted by family and friends who have a special connection to Wisconsin.

Cookie Book distribution begins Nov. 2. Visit for a complete schedule.

Signature distribution events are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 7, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Miller Park in Milwaukee and Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton. Customers are invited to enjoy hot cocoa, take a picture with Santa’s reindeer and pick up a free copy of the Cookie Book.

“For nearly 90 years, it’s been an honor to share our Cookie Books with our customers,” said Gale Klappa, chairman and chief executive of We Energies. “We hope this year’s edition will become part of our customers’ family traditions for generations to come.”

The We Energies Cookie Book dates back to 1928. Dozens of old editions, many considered collector’s items, can be found at

WITI Fox 6 video

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Crews install osprey platform in Fremont

Osprey on a utility pole.
A pair of ospreys in the Fox Valley has a new option to call home. Our crews recently installed a nesting platform near Fremont, Wisconsin, giving the pair a safer option than their original preference – atop one of our utility poles. 

Ospreys frequently attempt to nest on top of our power poles, which can result in power outages and harm to the ospreys. In this case, we were able to work with a local wildlife organization, The Feather, and a private landowner to secure a site
Drilling hole for osprey platform pole.
for a nesting platform.

Ospreys are listed as a special concern species in Wisconsin after their population declined significantly in the 1950s and ‘60s due to widespread use of pesticides such as DDT. We have installed dozens of osprey platforms since the late 1980s.

There’s no guarantee the pair will find and use the new platform, but it’s ready for them come nesting

Erecting the pole with platform.

    Photos courtesy of The Feather.

Mike Haak and Tim Bristol, We Energies line mechanics.