Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Klappa serves as master of ceremonies for inauguration of UWM Chancellor Lovell

Gale Klappa, chairman, president and chief executive of Wisconsin Energy, served as the master of ceremonies for the inauguration of Michael R. Lovell, the eighth chancellor of the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM), on Friday, Oct. 14.

“Our event today officially ratifies Dr. Lovell as chancellor, but it also celebrates this university, the greater Milwaukee community and the entire state of Wisconsin,” Klappa said at the event, which was held on campus in the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts.

In his remarks, Klappa thanked several who previously served UWM as chancellor including – J. Martin Klotsche, Werner A. Baum, Leon Schur, Frank Horton, John Schroeder and Robert Greenstreet.

Many noted members of the university and civic communities spoke at the event, including:

• Michael Spector, president of the Board of Regents

• Dr. Mark Schwartz, representing the faculty’s University Committee

• Jean Salzer, chair of the Academic Staff Committee

• Alex Kostal, Student Association president

• Chris Abele, Milwaukee County executive

• Tom Barrett, mayor of Milwaukee

• Sen. Herb Kohl

• Dr. Harvey Borovetz, a special colleague of Chancellor Lovell, who is a distinguished professor and chair of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Bioengineering

• Bill Haberman, chairman of the board of the UWM Foundation

• Kevin Reilly, president of the University of Wisconsin System

Reilly and Dr. Schwartz bestowed the symbol of office – a medallion – on Lovell. “It is now my pleasure and honor to bestow this symbol of office and to charge that it be worn honorably and well during what promises to be a long, successful and happy term of office,” said Reilly.

After Lovell’s remarks, Klappa concluded the ceremonies. “Chancellor Lovell, congratulations. You’ll be an outstanding leader at an exciting time for UWM.”

Klappa is a 1972 graduate cum laude of UWM, with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications. He is a member of the UWM School of Business Advisory Council. In 2011, Klappa received an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree from UWM in recognition of his support of UWM’s growth initiative.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Klappa hosts M7 news conference to announce addition of 76 jobs at Bostik, Inc.

Gale Klappa, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Wisconsin Energy, hosted a Milwaukee 7 (M7) news conference today at the corporate headquarters of Bostik, Inc., in Wauwatosa. At the event, Bostik announced it was adding 76 new research and development (R&D) and corporate positions at its Wauwatosa location on Watertown Plank Road.

“Bostik’s operation here soon will become a global center of excellence for adhesives technology,” said Klappa, who also is co-chair of the M7. “The products developed here will serve Bostik’s worldwide customer base and strengthen the company’s position as a leader in the adhesives industry,” he said.

Klappa noted that “the global competition to attract jobs – especially high-skilled, high-wage manufacturing jobs like Bostik’s – is relentless. And the announcement we’re making today is the direct result of leadership and teamwork.

“Leadership, of course, is about setting a long-term economic vision, but it’s also about acting decisively on real-time opportunities to attract jobs like those Bostik will be adding here in ‘Tosa.

“Quite simply, the leadership and commitment of our partners in the state of Wisconsin and the city of Wauwatosa made today’s announcement possible,” said Klappa.

Bob Marquette, Bostik president for the Americas, said that the company considered several other options for the location of their global R&D operations, including Shanghai and Paris. “Today’s announcement would not have been possible without the efforts of the M7, the state of Wisconsin and the city of Wauwatosa. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with the collaboration of those groups to help us accomplish this initiative.”

Wauwatosa Mayor Jill Didier attended the event. “There’s good reason why Bostik has called Wauwatosa home for more than 25 years and is making a considerable investment to expand here. Wauwatosa is well-known for its attentiveness to the needs of business. Under the mayor’s leadership, ‘Tosa has continued to build on the assets that are attractive to companies and residents alike, making it all the more appealing to companies like Bostik.”

Bostik is among the largest manufacturers of adhesives and sealants in the world. The company provides bonding solutions for the construction, consumer, transportation, packaging, personal care and hygiene, and industrial assembly markets. Bostik currently employs 164 in Wisconsin, with 4,600 globally. In September 2011, Bostik selected Wauwatosa for its consolidated corporate and R&D operations.

Klappa is one of the founding members of the Milwaukee 7, which was launched in September 2005 to create a regional, cooperative economic development platform for the seven counties of southeast Wisconsin: Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Waukesha and Washington. Its mission is to attract, retain and grow diverse businesses and talent.

We Energies women assist Habitat project

For the third consecutive year, a group of We Energies women helped construct a Habitat for Humanity home-building project in Milwaukee as part of Habitat’s Women Build program.

“It was a rewarding experience, and we got dirty,” said Patty Galante, manager, customer service – customer operations. “We were responsible for ensuring the walls were properly secured and flat, which involved tightening screws that had popped out. The women crew chiefs from Habitat were very particular that the house had to be perfect for the new owners.”

Bonnie Mohammadi, senior IT applications consultant – information technology services, said learning how to complete a factory edge to butt together the sheets of drywall was valuable. “I also learned how to use a power drill. I had fun, and I made a difference for someone,” she said.

“It was really nice to bond with other employees across the We Energies fleet,” said LaQuita Evans, supervisor – power generation. “I also learned some skills that can save me a few bucks on my own home.”

June Light, collection and litigation specialist – customer services, said the overall experience, including sweeping and hauling debris to a Dumpster, was rewarding because she was helping someone who would soon occupy a new home.

Women Build is an educational and networking opportunity for women to come together to build and fund an entire Habitat for Humanity home. Women from all backgrounds learn construction skills as they help build the home.

The We Energies team will return to the Milwaukee project site on Oct. 29 to help complete the construction.

Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity website

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Presque Isle Power Plant discussions begin

We're beginning to consider options for the future of Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette, Mich., because of proposed changes in federal environmental regulations. The options include:
  • Retiring the plant
  • Converting it from coal to natural gas
  • Adding a new natural gas combined-cycle plant (coincident with retirement)
  • Adding new air quality controls
We believe that new transmission is the best long-term option, and we are working with American Transmission Company to accelerate planning for new transmission facilities.

 No decision has been made on possible retirement of the plant, but current and potential federal environmental regulations make it necessary to consider the plant's future. All of the options require considerable development time.

The decision must make economic sense for customers and ensure a robust and reliable power supply for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Winter heating costs could be less this winter

Our estimate for winter heating costs looks good for our customers. Based on normal winter weather and the natural gas price remaining where it is today on the spot market, we expect the average residential customer to pay between $627 and $634 in winter heating costs.

This would be:
• 4-5 percent ($26-$33) less than the average residential customer paid last winter ($660).
• 17-18 percent ($129-$136) less than the most recent five-year average ($763).
• 28-29 percent ($244-$251) below the cost of the most expensive winter (2007/08 - $878).
• Less cost than nine of the past 11 winters.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Neenah Foundry implements innovative energy-efficient technology

Neenah Foundry's energy-efficient technology on its cabinet coolers is saving more than $141,000 annually.

Cabinet coolers keep critical electronic circuitry in challenging industrial environments clean, cool and dry. Traditionally, cabinet coolers use a high volume of compressed air, which means high energy use.

With the help of Focus on Energy, Wisconsin utilities’ statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy, and in partnership with We Energies, Neenah Foundry cut energy costs on its 68 cabinet coolers by more than 50 percent to yield the annual savings.

Studies to reduce energy use showed that retrofitting the company's cabinet coolers with thermostat controls and an integrated purge function would be the most cost-effective energy-saving option.

Neenah Foundry's retrofitted vortex cabinet coolers now use just a small amount of purge air to maintain positive pressure within the cabinets at all times. They only use full air flow when the thermostat calls for cooling. The electronic thermostat operates the same as a standard programmable thermostat, activating only when the temperature inside the cabinet rises to a certain level, preventing the cabinet coolers from needlessly running at full flow.

“Focus [on Energy] found an innovative energy-saving solution,” said Keith Rushford, electrical engineer at Neenah Foundry. “Financial incentives and technical assistance from Focus allowed us to initially move forward with this project, which paid for itself very quickly. During the initial study, we installed and analyzed 38 units. At that point, we realized the high savings potential, and we were able to invest in 30 more cabinet cooler retrofits on our own.”

Ken Williams, Focus on Energy’s business programs director, said, “By implementing this innovative emerging technology into practice, Neenah Foundry met its goal to reduce energy costs without compromising on safety or equipment maintenance practices. The company continues to investigate new technologies and find more ways to save energy — a positive example for other businesses to follow.”

About Neenah Foundry
Neenah Foundry, founded in 1872 and located in Neenah, Wis., produces metal castings such as complex machine parts and municipal castings (e.g., grates, manhole covers and tree grates along city sidewalks). For more information, visit nfco.com.

About Focus on Energy
Since 2001, Focus on Energy has delivered cost-effective energy solutions to Wisconsin residents and businesses. Focus can help businesses identify and evaluate energy saving opportunities, develop energy management plans and arrange technical training opportunities about energy conservation to help improve bottom lines and lower operating costs.

Focus information, resources and financial incentives help to implement projects that otherwise would not be completed, or to complete projects sooner than scheduled. Its efforts help Wisconsin residents and businesses manage rising energy costs, promote in-state economic development, protect the environment and control the state's electricity and natural gas demand. For more information, call 800-762-7077 or visit focusonenergy.com.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

PSCW approves proposal to hold base rates at 2011 levels through 2012

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) today approved our proposal to hold customers’ current base rates through 2012, providing certainty about energy costs for the coming year.

In May, we filed the rate proposal which called for no increase in base rates for 2012 in response to the fragile economic recovery expected to continue through next year.

A projected rise in fuel costs for 2012 is expected to be offset partially by returning proceeds from our settlement with the Department of Energy concerning spent nuclear fuel storage.

With today’s decision, we will continue to recover investments already approved by the PSCW to strengthen reliability, comply with changing environmental requirements and meet the state’s renewable energy mandate.