Thursday, November 21, 2013

PA Consulting Group names us best in nation for keeping the lights on

Award recognizes most reliable electric utilities nationwide

We received the 2013 ReliabilityOne™ national award recently for superior reliability of our electric system.

The national award is based on our performance for the year 2012, and is given annually by PA Consulting Group to utilities that have excelled in delivering the most reliable electric service to their customers.

"We’re honored to be named the most reliable utility in America. This national award is a testament to the skill and professionalism of our employees who dedicate themselves to outstanding customer care every day,” said Gale Klappa, chairman, president and chief executive officer of We Energies.

All utilities operating electric delivery networks in North America are eligible for the ReliabilityOne Award. The selection is based primarily on statistics that measure the frequency and duration of customer outages. After initial recipients are identified, each potential winner undergoes an on-site certification -- an independent review of the processes and systems used to collect, analyze and report a company's reliability results.

We also received – for the ninth time in the past 12 years -- the ReliabilityOne Award for outstanding electric reliability performance in the Midwest. There are five regional awards -- Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Plains and West.

We have made significant investments in recent years to strengthen the reliability of our network by rebuilding hundreds of miles of distribution lines, and building and upgrading substations and other infrastructure. Our forestry management also has been recognized for responsible tree trimming practices to keep branches from coming into contact with power lines.

“ReliabilityOne Award winners are characterized by their total commitment to service quality,” said Jeff Lewis, PA Consulting Group’s ReliabilityOne program director. “We Energies demonstrates its commitment to electric reliability every day from the senior leadership to the field crews and customer service representatives. To be the best in this industry, the entire organization must focus, align and motivate around reliability.”

About PA Consulting Group
PA Consulting Group is a firm of more than 2,000 people, specializing in management and IT consulting, technology and innovation. Independent and employee-owned, they operate globally from offices across Europe and the Nordics, the United States, the Gulf and Asia Pacific. PA Consulting works with businesses and governments to anticipate, understand and meet the challenges they face. They have outstanding technology-development capability and a unique breadth of skills, from strategy to performance improvement, from HR to IT. PA Consulting’s expertise covers energy, financial services, life sciences and healthcare, government and public services, defense and security, transport and logistics, telecommunications, consumer goods and automotive. PA Consulting Group has partnered with energy clients for over 25 years to help them understand the challenges they face and define and implement an effective strategic response. PA Consulting Group’s 2012 ReliabilityOne study, based on standard industry reliability statistics that measure the frequency and duration of electric power outages, has been analyzing electric utility performance since 1987. For more information about PA Consulting Group, visit www.paconsulting.com/energy.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Our Rothschild Biomass Cogeneration Plant begins commercial operation

Our biomass-fueled power plant on the site of Domtar Corporation's Rothschild, Wis., paper mill was placed into commercial operation Friday, Nov. 8, after testing and commissioning activities were successfully completed.

Wood, waste wood and sawdust are being used to produce up to 50 megawatts (MW) of electricity; steam provided by the plant is also supporting Domtar's sustainable papermaking operations.

This new biomass plant adds another technology to our renewable energy portfolio.

"The addition of the biomass plant enables us to produce renewable energy on demand," said Gale Klappa, our chairman, president and chief executive officer. "That benefit is simply not available with solar or wind generation."

Our renewable energy portfolio includes the state's two largest wind developments -- the 145-MW Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center in Fond du Lac County and the 162-MW Glacier Hills Wind Park in Columbia County. Together, these three projects are capable of delivering nearly 360 MW of renewable energy, enough to supply approximately 120,000 homes.

"These renewable energy projects -- fueled by Wisconsin resources -- were developed largely through the talents of Wisconsin companies and Wisconsin labor," added Klappa.

More than 400 workers contributed to the construction of the biomass plant, which also will support approximately 150 permanent jobs in the region, including independent wood suppliers and haulers from northern and central Wisconsin who will secure waste wood for the project.

Under Wisconsin law, utilities statewide must use renewable energy to meet 10 percent of the electricity needs of their retail customers by the year 2015. With the commercial operation of the Rothschild biomass plant, we estimate that we now have secured enough renewable energy to remain in compliance with the state mandate through 2022.

In addition, Domtar's use of the steam produced by the plant will help improve the paper mill's energy efficiency and reduce overall emissions at the site by more than 30 percent.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Natural gas cost forecast for upcoming heating season

Based on normal winter weather and the price of natural gas remaining where it is today on the spot market, we expect the average residential customer to pay $533 in winter heating costs, which would be approximately:
  • 3% ($19) less than last winter.
  • 16% ($104) less than the most recent 5-year average ($637).
  • 25% ($175) less than the most recent 10-year average ($708).
  • 39% ($345) less than the most expensive winter (2007/08 -$878).
The expected cost for the upcoming heating season would be less than the cost for 10 of the past 11 winters.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Vulcan Street Plant became first hydroelectric central station on Sept. 30, 1882

The world's first hydroelectric central station was placed in operation on Sept. 30, 1882 in Appleton, Wis. About the same size as a shed, the plant featured an Edison "K" type dynamo that produced about 12.5 kilowatts of electricity from a water-powered turbine to light three buildings -- two paper mills and the home of industrialist H.J. Rogers.

Opening of replica plant in 1932.
Built by the Appleton Edison Electric Light Company, the Vulcan Street Plant was the first Edison hydroelectric central station to serve a system of private and commercial customers and the beginning of electric generation in our service area. 

The Edison crew in Appleton was under orders to delay the plant's opening until its parent company's Pearl Street Station made its debut as the nation's first central power plant on Sept. 4, 1882

The Vulcan Street Plant burned to the ground in 1891, but a replica was built on South Oneida Street in 1932 and moved in 1987 to its current location on the banks of the Fox River on South Vulcan Street, near its original location and the Lawe Street Bridge. The site is a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark and part of the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway.

Roger's home, which is now the Hearthstone Historic House Museum, 625 W. Prospect Ave., is one of the few surviving examples of wiring and lighting fixtures from the dawn of the electrical age.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Don't shiver yer timbers this winter

Sept. 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Avast ye lubbers! Here be some energy-savin' tips to save yer treasure in th' blust'ry months before ye.

  • Keep yer furnace ship shape. Have th' ol' heatin' contraption eyeballed by a qualified contractor mate. Toss th' filter overboard e'en ev'ry month so ye not be wastin' energy.
  • Plug leaks 'round yer windows and portholes. Keelhaul wintry winds by fortifyin' with caulk 'n' weatherstrippin'.
  • Keep yer quarters' thermostat at 60 degrees when catchin' your winks or leavin' port. Higher when yer up 'n' about. 
  • Be takin' advantage of th' sun be shinin' by openin' yer drapes, blinds, shades and such, me hearties. Like findin' buried treasure it 'tis.
  • Navigate by Energy Star when ye need new windows or energy-efficient appliances, say fer keepin' yer grog cold. 
  • Avast the Focus on Energy site of web for ye Wisconsin landlubbers to be savin' more doubloons as ye batten down yer hatches.

Aaarr... lookin' fer more tips are ye? Try here:

101 Energy-Saving Tips


Friday, September 13, 2013

Company, foundation sponsor Honor Flight book to benefit veterans

Stars and Stripes Honor Flight (SSHF) soon will release a coffee table book that captures the emotion and events of the Honor Flight experience. Proceeds from the book benefit Honor Flight and Fisher House Wisconsin.

Through breathtaking photographs, “Honor Flight: A Visual Journey” celebrates WWII veterans as they travel on a Stars and Stripes Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., to see their memorial. SSHF curated five years of photographs from 18 Honor Flights to find the most moving images that tell the Honor Flight story through the eyes of the nation’s aging heroes.

Proceeds from the book will be shared evenly between Stars and Stripes Honor Flight and Fisher House Wisconsin. SSHF will use the proceeds to fund future Honor Flights out of Milwaukee. Fisher House will break ground at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in early 2014 to build a "home away from home" for veterans so their family members can be close to them during hospitalization for illness, disease or injury.

Our parent company, Wisconsin Energy Corporation, has partnered with Stars and Stripes Honor Flight since its inception, helping sponsor flights, as well as the Field of Honor event in August 2012 at Miller Park. We Energies and the Wisconsin Energy Foundation helped underwrite the book. 

“Honor Flight is all about saying ‘thank you.’ But sometimes thank you is not enough,” says Joe Dean, founder of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. “What we realized during the process of the Honor Flight experience, is that we shouldn't wait 70 years to show our veterans how much we appreciate them. We have young servicemen and women returning from their tours of duty hurt and in need of healing. Fisher House helps our wounded warriors heal with their families close at hand. We want to help make that happen here in southeast Wisconsin. We believe a family's love is good medicine.”

“Honor Flight: A Visual Journey” sells for $100. Visit HonorFlightBook.com or call Stars and Stripes Honor Flight at 262-238-7741 to pre-order the book. The book will be available at any of Steinhafel's 16 locations, Visual Image Photography and other retail outlets beginning Veteran's Day, Nov. 11, 2013.

Stars and Stripes Honor Flight will have two more flights this year, on Sept. 21 and Nov. 2. The November flight will feature two planes, one of which will be exclusively for Korean War veterans. Nearly 2,700 veterans have taken a Stars and Stripes Honor Flight since its inception in the fall of 2008.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Careers page features job openings

One of our employees at the West Bend Service Center recently replaced his garage insulation and while removing the original insulation -- mostly old newspapers from the 1950s -- discovered this advertisement concerning employment at the "Electric Co."

Though our name has changed, and we no longer feature Reddy Kilowatt, we're still interested in finding qualified candidates to join our company. Learn about the types of careers we offer and see openings for various positions on our website's Careers page.

We Energies careers

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cool efficiently to save money

Your greatest energy use comes from cooling and heating. During periods of extreme heat, air conditioning can add two or three dollars to your energy costs each day.

To help control central air conditioning costs, adjust your thermostat to a slightly higher setting, dress in cool clothes, use fans and avoid heat-producing activities such as cooking, drying and ironing until evenings. Also, increase the thermostat setting much higher (around 80 degrees) when you are away and then lower it when you are home (around 75 degrees).

Refrigeration uses less energy than air conditioning, but it likely comprises about 6 percent of your energy use. Because refrigerators and freezers produce heat, using them efficiently can save money and take some load off your cooling equipment as well.

Some ways to save on refrigeration:
  • Make sure your refrigerator is set to correct temperature  45 degrees is good for fridge and 0 degrees for freezer.
  • Make sure the seal is good. Keep it clean and replace it if damaged so cold air cannot escape. 
  • Keep vents and coils free of dust to improve efficiency and run less frequently. 
  • Keep refrigerator a couple of inches away from the wall to allow escape of hot air it creates. 
  • Let food cool before putting it into the refrigerator. 
  • Defrost frozen food in fridge rather than wasting water or using a microwave. The frozen food also helps keep the refrigerator cool. A slow defrost also is better for the food. 
  • Keep the doors closed as much as possible. Decide what you want before you open the door, get what you need and get out. Leaving the door opens wastes energy and costs money. 
  • If your freezer requires defrosting, do it when the ice gets ¼-inch thick to avoid wasting energy. 
  • Keep the freezer full. An empty freezer loses much cold air each time it’s opened. If you never have much in there, consider putting empty containers in there to take up the space. 
  • Consider replacing old units with newer Energy Star units, which are more efficient. Replacing refrigerators from the 1970s and 1980s can save $100 to $200 a year. The Energy Star calculator can help you estimate potential savings.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Scammers citing Fox Valley tornados when targeting customers

Customers in the Fox Valley are urged to be on alert for scammers claiming to be We Energies workers.

The scammers are calling customers, mentioning the recent tornados that touched down in the Fox Valley during the call. The callers claim that -- although customers’ power may have been out during the storm -- they still have an overdue bill and are at risk of disconnection. In some cases, the scammers are giving the customers the option of paying the bill in person at a We Energies facility. 

The scammers appear to be trying to legitimize their calls by mentioning both the storms and We Energies facilities. The callers continue pressuring customers to make a payment over the phone with a pre-paid debit card, or “Green Dot” card. This is a scam. We Energies does not solicit payment from customers in this manner. 

These scammers have been targeting customers across our service territory for several months. When the scam was first reported, Spanish-speaking customers were being targeted. Since then, the scammers have branched out. Customers of many different ethnicities have reported the scam. Small business customers also are being targeted. 

Utilities across the country also have had customers victimized by these scammers. From Colorado to California to New York, the scammers have targeted utility customers in many areas. Authorities believe they may be operating from an off-shore location, making them hard to track down. 

If you get a call that sounds suspicious, trust your gut and hang up. Call our Customer Care Center to see if the call really originated from We Energies. By calling 800-242-9137, you can verify if the call received was a scam, check on the status of your account, and verify your payment history.

Related links: Previous scam warnings on our blog and website

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Fox Valley restoration completed

As of 11 a.m., we have restored electric service to all Fox Valley customers affected by Wednesday's severe storm. This morning new power outages were reported, and we are working to resolve those just as quickly and as safely as possible.

We replaced more than 10 miles of distribution lines, 157 utility poles and 92 transformers in a three-day period in the wake of six tornados in the area. As a follow-up, we also are inspecting equipment in the area that may have suffered damage that could lead to future outages.

We appreciate the kind support of customers who shared food and drink with our crews as well as compliments and words of encouragement during the restoration effort. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Fox Valley storm restoration update

Since Wednesday’s early morning storms, crews have restored service to more than half of the nearly 60,000 who last power in the Fox Valley.

Hundreds of workers from our own crews as well as supplemental crews from contractors and other utilities are working around the clock to complete restoration. Hour to hour, more customers are seeing their service restored, and we expect that 90 percent of our customers in the Fox Valley will have service restored by Friday evening. The remainder -- in areas with most severe damage -- should be restored by Saturday evening.

The National Weather Service has confirmed that two tornadoes, with winds up to 90 mph, hit the Fox Valley very early Wednesday, causing major damage to our electrical network and the transmission system. More than 60 poles and 500 wires were knocked down during the storm. In many cases, we need to completely rebuild much of our network.

Fox6 News video:


Residents in Waupaca and Outagamie counties seeking shelter following storm damage can use the following shelters:

New London Elementary School
1300 Werner-Allen Drive

The New London American Red Cross shelter is near the border of Waupaca and Outagamie counties and can serve either county’s constituents.

Outagamie County along with the Red Cross also set up a shelter at:
Appleton West High School
Emmanuel Gym
610 N. Badger St.

Crews replace power lines in Little Chute.



Tree damage such as this example from Hortonville 
shows how much debris must be removed before 
electric service can be restored. Similar situations 
exist throughout the Fox Valley.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fox Valley storm restoration update

Severe storms with winds reported up to 90 mph passed through the Fox Valley service area early Aug. 7, causing extensive damage to our electrical network and the transmission system. At the storm’s peak, about 60,000 We Energies customers, including several major businesses, were out of service. Approximately 6,500 customers had been restored as of 9 a.m.

We are drawing upon resources from throughout our service area to safely restore service to the remaining customers without power.
Poles and wires on French Road near Freedom, Wis., 
are down as far as the eye can see.
The storm caused extensive damage to poles, wires, substations, transmission lines and some bulk electric system transformers. Although we will continue to make progress restoring power today, restoration will not be completed quickly, and it may take several days before all customers are restored. In some areas, we may need to completely rebuild much of the electric distribution network.

Customers should call 800-662-4797 to report outages and to stay at least 25 feet away from downed wires and anything touching them. No accidents or injuries have been reported at this time.

To see the extent of the outages, view our outage map

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Why we advertise … and how it’s paid

You have heard it at the end of our radio ads:

“….paid for by the stockholders of Wisconsin Energy Corporation.”

But exactly what does that mean? Who pays for it? Why do we advertise?

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) limits what type of advertising expenses we can recover in customer rates. Typically, the PSCW allows us to recover advertising costs related to safety, conservation, renewable energy and required legal notices. The costs of other types of advertising may not be recovered in rates and is paid for out of company profits – “by the stockholders.”

In 2012, about 60 percent of our advertising expenses were funded by Wisconsin Energy Corporation stockholders, with most of our advertising focused on customer service and safety.

“The content of our advertising is based on feedback from residential and commercial customers, as well as legal requirements,” said Rick White, vice president – corporate communications. “While we do relatively little advertising, we’ve found that paid advertising is a very cost-effective way to share information about a variety of topics.”

Additional facts about our advertising:

Why we advertise
Although your location determines which utility provides your energy, you may not be aware of the services we offer. We also want to keep you safe around our equipment. On a cost-per-thousand basis, radio advertising is one of the more cost-effective ways to inform you and the rest of our customers about energy costs, money-saving tips, energy assistance, budget and paper-free billing options, and energy efficiency programs.

How much advertising costs
Most of our advertising and sponsorship expenses are not part of your rates. Costs that were recovered in rates were less than a penny per customer per month in 2012. That’s about 12 cents per customer per year. The remaining advertising costs were paid for by Wisconsin Energy stockholders.

How sponsorship ads work 
We sponsor events and activities to strengthen the communities we serve. Sometimes, advertising opportunities come with those sponsorships at no additional cost, and we use those opportunities to provide information about our programs and services. The point of sponsorships is not the advertising, though. We provide sponsorships to be a good corporate citizen in the places we call home. Many sponsorships are through the Wisconsin Energy Foundation, which is funded by stockholders, not customers.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Be ready to beat heat

Stay cool and stay safe when temperatures soar for extended periods of time:
  • Drink fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty and avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate. 
  • Wear lightweight and breathable clothing. 
  • Check on friends and neighbors who don’t have air conditioning, especially if they are older. 
  • No air conditioning? Go to basement, schools, libraries or shopping malls to escape the heat. 
  • Avoid working outdoors if possible and take frequent breaks if you must be outside. 
  • Wear sunscreen if going outdoors. 
  • Take a cool shower or bath after working outside or if you feel overheated. 
  • Eat small meals more often to ensure you are getting proper nutrition. 
  • Call 911 if you or someone shows signs of heat stroke and move to a cool place. 
  • Read the Red Cross heat wave preparedness checklist.

Be prepared in case you lose power during hot weather:
  • Have a charged cell phone with you or stay near a hard-wired phone (not cordless). 
  • Have emergency contacts handy, including our power outage number  –  800-662-4797. 
  • Have someone check on you, especially if you are older or have a medical condition. 
  • Consider backup power supply or have a cool place to go when needed. 
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible. 
  • Follow Food and Drug Administration guidelines for food safety.

Use these energy-saving tips during hot weather:
  • Increase your thermostat setting. When at home, set it a few degrees higher. When leaving, move the setting even higher -- about 80 degrees. However, if you are older or sensitive to heat, set the thermostat to a comfortable level to avoid heat-related illness. 
  • Turn off any lights not needed. 
  • Avoid using heat-producing appliances during the hottest times of day. 
  • Use a microwave instead of oven – or avoid cooking altogether. 
  • Use fans – even if you have air conditioning – to help circulate the air. 
  • Cool only rooms in use. Close unused rooms. 
  • Close blinds, shades and drapes on sunny side to keep house cooler.
  • Get more energy-saving tips.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Flashback Friday: Handwritten bills

Had you been a customer of one of our predecessor companies, The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Co., back around 1900, you would have received a bill in the mail that featured handwritten data and separate pricing for incandescent lamps, motors and arc lamps (used mostly for street lights).

Incandescent lighting at that time was priced at 12 cents per kilowatt-hour -- only about 2 cents less than it is today, more than a century later. Back then, customers also could receive discounts for higher usage and prompt payment.

Today, many of our customers receive no bill in the mail at all. Instead, they receive and pay their bills online. Not yet paying your bill online? Find information about online bill payment on our website.



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Bricks being placed at memorial

Our brick at the replica Wisconsin pillar of the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C., is now in place on the former coal dock near our Port Washington Generating Station. The Port Washington pillar will be accessible to the public in September. Meanwhile, workers continue to add bricks to the site.

Bricks are still available for purchase for a short time by calling 262-238-7741. You also can visit the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight website where you will find a link to the brick sales. Prices start at $50. Act quickly to order a brick with your family's name or the name of a veteran you want to honor.

Last November, veterans from Stars and Stripes Honor Flight attended the dedication of the Pillar of Honor at the new Coal Dock Park as a tribute to all Wisconsin veterans who fought in that great war. We sponsored the dedication.

Wisconsin Energy has been a longtime partner of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, helping sponsor flights to Washington, D.C., to take WWII veterans to see their memorial and other historic sights. Wisconsin Energy also sponsored the Field of Honor event held last August at Miller Park.

Employees ensure safety at accident scene

While on their way to work, two of our employees – John Feider, senior operations supervisor, and Erich Wuestenhagen, senior projects supervisor – worked together to secure the scene of a dangerous accident and assure the safety of people caught up in the event.

At approximately 7 a.m., June 28, a truck hauling a poured concrete bridge span more than 100 feet long cut a corner too close turning south onto Hwy. 100 in Greenfield, Wis., off of the exit ramp from eastbound I-94, snapping a power pole and causing energized wires to sag perilously close to the rush hour traffic on the busy thoroughfare below.

Erich Wuestenhagen (left) and John Feider.
Feider witnessed the accident and jumped immediately into action to keep people away from the live power lines. He safely parked his car, called 911, donned his vest and hard hat, and started directing traffic. “I stopped as many people as I could,” said Feider, an 11-year employee with the company.

When a semi-truck contacted the energized wires, Feider ordered the driver to stay in the truck until the lines could be de-energized. He also stopped a county bus that was attempting to drive underneath the wires.

About this time, Wuestenhagen exited onto Hwy. 100 from the east, saw Feider trying to manage the situation, safely parked his car, ran up to Feider and asked what he could do to help. “The first thing I asked was ‘are we safe?’,” said Wuestenhagen. Together, they identified the hazards to themselves and to the public and formulated a plan to make the situation as safe as possible.

“Our biggest concerns were our own safety and how do we keep everyone else safe,” said Wuestenhagen, who’s been with the company approximately seven years. Feider started directing traffic going from south to north and Wuestenhagen took the opposite lane of traffic.

About that time, the energized lines arced three times between the top of the semi and its front left tire. The arcing, smoke and small fire scared the people in the bus. They panicked and started rushing to get off of the bus. Unable to stop them, Feider and Wuestenhagen guided them to a safe place away from the traffic and the downed lines.

Police and sheriff’s deputies arrived to take charge after approximately 10 minutes. Feider explained what had happened, and he and Wuestenhagen departed the scene.

Brian Dobberke, director of customer field operations: “John and Erich did themselves and the company proud today. Their prompt and decisive actions likely prevented some people from being injured or killed. It was an absolutely outstanding response to a dangerous situation.”

Monday, July 1, 2013

Climate change plan impact hard to determine

President Obama’s climate change plan announced June 25 directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to work closely with states, industry and other stakeholders to establish greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards for both new and existing power plants. Implementation of the announced new rule for existing power plants is not expected to occur for several years.

The electric power industry has been a leader in reducing emissions over the last two decades, including GHG emissions in recent years.

Electric power sector emission reductions are due largely to fuel switching from coal to natural gas; slower economic growth; record levels of renewable energy generation (e.g., hydro, wind and solar photovoltaic); and increased energy efficiency by consumers.

Our company has demonstrated a dramatic change in environmental performance. From 2000 to 2013, our power plant capacity is up 50 percent, while emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury and particulate matter are down by 80 percent.

We will not be able to estimate the impact of a new rule regarding existing plants until the details of the President’s proposal are fully developed.

We maintain our plants to retain efficiency:
  • For example, the new coal-fueled units at Oak Creek Power Plant are among the most efficient in the U.S. 
  • Even our older units at Oak Creek are in the top 10 percent in efficiency among coal plants in the Midwest. As a result, they are emitting less carbon dioxide per unit of energy because of their efficiency. These units should be among the least impacted by a carbon dioxide rule, which should be good news for our customers.

Any rule regarding existing plants should be based on commercially available, cost-effective technologies. The new rule needs to take into account the potential impact it would have on customer rates. As a leader on reducing emissions, we also believe any new rule should give credit for early actions, such as repowering of Port Washington Generating Station from coal to natural gas, our plan to convert Valley Power Plant from coal to natural gas and our significant investment in renewables – two of the state’s largest wind farms and a biomass plant.

We Energies President, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gale Klappa discussed the issue when he appeared on UpFront with Mike Gousha.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Los reportes de estafas acrecientan

Queremos que los clientes tomen conciencia de las estafas que siguen enfocadas en la población que habla español. Decenas de nuevos casos se han reportado en los últimos días. Los estafadores también esta extendidos tratando de estafar a la gente de toda la comunidad hispana.

Los estafadores convencen a los clientes a comprar tarjetas de debito prepagadas y a entregar la información de la tarjeta a ellos. A los clientes muchas veces les dicen que están con un pago atrasado y con el riesgo de ser desconectado. Algunas veces les dicen que hay un mal funcionamiento del medidor eléctrico y que puede causar un incendio o una explosión. Los estafadores dirán cualquier cosa para asustar a la gente y así se conviertan en una víctima de estafa.

Los estafadores son muy sofisticados. Usando programas de computación, ellos sabrán los nombres y direcciones de los clientes. En algunos casos, el nombre de We Energies aparece incluso en el identificador de llamadas. Se pide a los clientes que cuelguen y llamen al 800-242-9137 para determinar si la llamada fue una estafa.

No solicitamos a nuestros clientes el pago por teléfono de esta manera. Si usted recibe una llamada que parece sospechosa, es lo que es.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Reports of scam ramp up

We want customers to be aware of a scam that continues to target the Spanish-speaking population. Dozens of new cases have been reported over the past several days. The scammers also are branching out, trying to victimize people beyond the Hispanic community.

The scammers convince customers to purchase prepaid debit cards and to relinquish the card information to them. Often times they claim customers are behind on a bill and at risk of disconnection. Sometimes they claim there’s a malfunctioning electric meter that may cause a fire or explosion. They will say anything to frighten people into becoming a victim.

These scammers are sophisticated. Using computer programs, they know customers’ names and addresses. In some cases, the We Energies name or phone number has even appeared on caller ID. Customers are urged to hang up and call us at 800-242-9137 to determine if the call was a scam.

We do not solicit payment from customers over the phone in this manner. If you get a call that sounds suspicious, it is.

Be prepared during storm season

Our crews and emergency response teams do everything they can to keep your lights on. But sometimes, severe storms stop the power from flowing to our customers. We rely on you to tell us when your power is out; you are an important part of our ability to identify and respond to storm damage. Keep our power outage hotline number in your cell phone or in another convenient place so you can let us know about power outages or emergencies.

We Energies Power Outage Hotline: 800-662-4797  

Be sure to have a safety plan in place in case you lose power. Keep emergency items handy, including food, water, flashlights, batteries and a cell phone. If someone in your home has a critical medical condition, let us know. We offer tips for developing a backup plan so you can be prepared if your service is interrupted.

Get outage information 
Our outage map provides information on outages throughout our service territory. You can view outages by communities or regions. You also can see:
  • How many customers are out of service
  • When the outage was reported
  • The cause, if known
The outage map updates every 15 minutes. The map also displays on mobile devices.

Outage map

Monday, June 10, 2013

Leading the way in coal combustion product use

Since the mid-1980s, we have steadily reduced the amount of coal combustion products (CCPs) that are landfilled, even when faced with increasing amounts of CCPs from new generating plants and air quality control systems added to reduce emissions at older plants. Over the last several years, we beneficially used nearly all of the 8.8 million tons of CCPs produced at our power plants. The national average is around 45 percent.

We continue to be a leader in developing new uses for our CCPs, including use of fly ash to improve the performance of asphalt pavement (“ASHphalt”) and gypsum to reduce nutrient runoff from agricultural fields.

Our efforts are not limited to the daily production of CCPs. Over the past few years, we have recovered landfill ash for use on the I-94 reconstruction project, reclaiming valuable landfill capacity and conserving quarried materials for use by future generations.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What you should know about power surges

A power surge is a brief but sharp increase of electricity that can enter your home and damage your appliances and electronic equipment.

A power surge occurs on the system when higher voltage makes contact with a lower-voltage line. Power surges can be caused by:


  • Immediate or cumulative damage to the system as a result of inclement weather – wind, rain, snow or lightning.
  • Third-party involvement – car striking utility pole.
  • Equipment failure – breakdown within distribution system.

  • Power surges are rare, but they do occur. One way to protect yourself from a power surge is to install a whole-house surge protector. Contact an electrician to discuss installation costs and other details.

    Wednesday, June 5, 2013

    Moving? Make it easy

    If you’re moving, be sure to contact us. We offer convenient online and phone options for starting,
    stopping or transferring your energy service.

    Start, stop or transfer your energy service online
    Go to our website to start, stop or transfer energy services within our service territory. Online processing requires at least two business days. To use our online service, you must be:
    • A residential homeowner or renter.
    • Current with your energy payments.
    • Willing to provide your Social Security number and previous address (to start service only).
    Do it all in one call
    You can call us anytime at 800-242-9137. With just one call, we can arrange natural gas and electric service, as well as phone, cable and more. Best of all, it’s free.

    Check out billing and payment options
    Moving is the perfect time to make changes to your account. We offer billing and payment options and energy efficiency information to save you time and money. 

    Monday, May 20, 2013

    PSCW approves PIPP-Wolverine joint venture

    The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) on May 16 unanimously approved our asset transfer application for joint ownership of Presque Isle Power Plant (PIPP) with Wolverine Power Cooperative and the addition of state-of-the-art emission controls at the facility. The PSCW action, in addition to previous approval from the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, are significant steps forward in the process.

    Still pending is an air permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Other local permits also need to be secured prior to construction of the emission controls, which is expected to begin in early 2014. Project completion is targeted for 2016.

    The ownership agreement provides that Wolverine will invest approximately $130 million to $140 million to retrofit the facility’s units with air quality control additions to meet expected environmental regulations. In exchange, Wolverine will receive a minority interest in the plant.

    Our company and employees will continue to operate the plant as well as the new air quality control system. The project will enable the continued reliable operation of the power plant, while supporting the regional economy by creating construction jobs and protecting the local tax base.

    Located in Marquette, Mich., along the shore of Lake Superior, PIPP consists of five coal-fueled units capable of generating approximately 344 megawatts. The units were built between 1974 and 1979.

    Wolverine is a generation and transmission cooperative headquartered in Cadillac, Mich. It supplies power to five distribution electric cooperatives and two alternative electric suppliers in the Lower Peninsula.

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

    PSCW approves request to build new Twin Falls powerhouse

    The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) issued a certificate of authority on May 13 approving our request to build a new powerhouse at the Twin Falls hydroelectric generating facility on the Menominee River. The project was approved at an estimated cost of $72.3 million, including additional funds used during construction.

    Additional permits have been requested from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and a license amendment application also has been filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). After all permits and licenses are received, the project schedule calls for construction to start in the fall of 2013, with a completion date of mid-2016.

    Twin Falls, one of 13 hydroelectric power plants in our system, is located on the border of Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (U.P.). While licensed to operate until 2040, the powerhouse, which was built in 1912, is in need of repair. Several alternatives were considered, including repairing the original structure, shutting it down or building a new one.

    The most prudent decision was to build a new powerhouse on the Wisconsin side of the Menominee River to replace the current powerhouse on the Michigan side of the river. The project will include adding spillway capacity to meet current FERC standards.

    Once the new plant is commissioned, the original plant will be removed.

    Milwaukee Brewers High-Energy Player voting underway

    We are again partnering with the Milwaukee Brewers baseball club as corporate sponsor of the High-Energy Player of the Year promotion, which kicked off May 13 and runs through Sept. 8. Once again, fans have the opportunity to vote for the Brewers player they believe best demonstrates a positive attitude, hard work and an aggressive approach to playing the game.

    Voters are entered into a grand prize drawing for a chance to win a Club-level suite to a Brewers home game. In addition to the Club-level suite, the Grand Slam prize also includes six Diamond Box tickets to the Sept. 20 game at which the 2013 High-Energy Player is announced. The winning fan also receives an autographed jersey and the opportunity to join the High-Energy Player on the field during the award presentation.

    Each fan voting throughout the season is entered to win four Loge Outfield tickets to a Brewers home game, with one winner named for each home game, June 3 through Sept. 22.

    Previous High-Energy Player of the Year winners include:
    2012 – Ryan Braun
    2011 – Nyjer Morgan/Tony Plush
    2010 – Rickie Weeks
    2009 – Craig Counsell
    2008 – Ryan Braun
    2007 – Prince Fielder
    2006 – Bill Hall

    Registration and voting for the High-Energy Player of the Year is done through the Brewers website. Additional information, along with eligibility and contest rules, is available on the site. Fans also can vote via text during select Brewers home games.

    Employees, officers and directors, including immediate family members and members of the same household, of We Energies, the Milwaukee Brewers, other Major League Baseball entities, and each of their affiliated companies, subsidiaries, licensees, distributors, dealers, retailers, printers and advertising and promotion agencies, and any and all other companies associated with the sweepstakes are not eligible to win prizes.

    Tuesday, May 14, 2013

    Port Washington falcons growing fast

    Here's a clip captured today of the chicks in our Port Washington Power Plant nest box. They're growing fast. These chicks were born at the end of April and will be banded next week.

    video

    The chicks at Oak Creek and Pleasant Prairie nest boxes are not far behind.

    See live video of chicks at our Pleasant Prairie and Oak Creek nest boxes

    Tuesday, April 9, 2013

    Customers warned of scams as moratorium set to expire

    With the winter moratorium on disconnections set to expire on April 15, reports of scams on our customers as well as other utilities are surfacing. The scams target primarily the Latino community, asking customers in Spanish to purchase prepaid cards to avoid disconnections. We emphasize that we are not asking customers to purchase prepaid cards to pay their utility bills.

    We remind customers to be vigilant and to communicate with us if they suspect anything suspicious. A scam warning notice was included with customer bills recently.

    The number of our customers facing disconnection is approximately the same as last year, with 5,000 to 6,000 customers most at risk of being disconnected after the end of the moratorium. By the time the moratorium begins again in November, we estimate we will need to disconnect approximately 50,000 customers.

    To prevent disconnection, we offer a minimum payment option or flexible payment plans. In addition, energy assistance funds are available to help qualifying customers. Budget billing also may help customers manage their monthly energy expenses by spreading out their charges more evenly over 12 months.

    Customers having problems paying their bills are encouraged to contact us as soon as possible. They can select a payment option and learn more about energy assistance by calling 800-842-4565. Customers also can visit we-energies.com to learn more about online payment options.

    Recently, Fox6 News reported the upcoming end of the winter moratorium and our efforts to help customers stay connected.

    Friday, March 1, 2013

    Know how to recognize us

    Our line mechanics, forestry workers, meter readers, service technicians and other employees as well as our contractors may visit your home or neighborhood from time to time.

    Unfortunately, criminals sometimes pose as our workers in an attempt to gain access to homes.

    To ensure your safety, please check for ID. All of our employees and contractors wear photo identification badges. If the employee does not have an ID or if you have questions, call us at 800-242-9137 before allowing anyone access to your home.

    Many of our workers wear a uniform, clothing or hard hat that features our logo. Some do not. Whether they have clothing with a logo or not, always ask for ID.

    If you believe you have been victimized by someone posing as a We Energies representative, contact your local police and report it. We will cooperate with their investigation.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013

    Honor Flight to fly Korean War veterans; company sponsors Honor Flight DVD production

    Stars and Stripes Honor Flight is transitioning its mission in 2013 to fly Korean War veterans to see their memorial in Washington, D.C.

    "These Korean War veterans are often known as the 'forgotten ones from the forgotten war.' Well, they are forgotten no longer," said Joe Dean, chairman of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

    According to Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, 40,000 Korean War-era veterans live in Wisconsin.

    Stars and Stripes Honor Flight continues to fly WWII veterans to Washington, D.C. The wait list for WWII veterans is 150. Flights are scheduled for April 27 and June 8. Korean War veterans could fly as early as the June 8 flight.

    Korean War veterans interested in taking an Honor Flight should fill out the application found at the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight website under the ‘Applications’ tab.

    Stars and Stripes Honor Flight also announced a limited-edition DVD of the documentary film Honor Flight. We Energies is underwriting the production and packaging. The movie will be sold in limited quantities in advance of its nationwide retail release this May. The DVD is available for purchase online now through March 10 only. Ordering information is available online. The DVD is $19.99 and ships March 15.

    “Thanks to the generous support of We Energies for underwriting the production costs of the DVD, the purchase of each DVD goes even further in supporting the mission of Honor Flight to fly as many veterans as possible to Washington, D.C.,” said Dean.

    Honor Flight, the film, features four Milwaukee-area World War II veterans and the local volunteers of the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight chapter. Honor Flight hubs across the country are using the film to heighten awareness of the program and raise funds to fly veterans to Washington, D.C., from their communities.

    Honor Flight also holds the Guinness World Record for the largest film screening ever when it premiered at Miller Park on Aug. 11, 2012, for a crowd of 28,442. The event was sponsored by the Wisconsin Energy Foundation, a long-time supporter of the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

    Friday, January 18, 2013

    Flashback Friday: Baking cookie samples

    The Public Service Building's model kitchen in 1931.
    Home economists at our predecessor company, The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Co., baked sample cookies in the model kitchen at the Public Service Building in downtown Milwaukee in 1931.

    The company invited garden clubs, church groups and lodge auxiliaries to spend afternoons watching Home Service Bureau demonstrations in a effort to expand acceptance and use of electric appliances.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013

    Are you hungry for more holiday cookies? So are we!

    Although our annual Cookie Book is released around the holidays, planning for the book is a year-round project. It’s mid-January and we’re already looking for recipes for our next book.

    Customers of We Energies are again being asked to submit recipes for the company’s 2013 Cookie Book. Original recipes can be submitted online. Recipes will be considered for the 2013 Cookie Book and possibly future editions.

    The We Energies Cookie Book dates back to 1928, featuring hundreds of delicious recipes passed down from generation to generation. Past issues featured recipes from former and current employees -- until last year, when customer recipes were included for the first time. The response was great, and the company is again asking customers to submit their family favorites. Customers also are encouraged to share the history behind their recipes.

    Submit recipe

    The 2013 We Energies Cookie Book will be unveiled in November, with major distribution events at Miller Park in Milwaukee and Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium (Timber Rattlers stadium) in Appleton. Customers who submit recipes will be notified in advance if their recipe is selected for this year’s book.

    Fox6 report



    Friday, January 11, 2013

    Flashback Friday: 1890s electric streetcar

    Beginning in the 1860s, horse-drawn streetcars moved people around Milwaukee, but on April 3, 1890, the Wells-Wisconsin line of the West Side Railroad Co. became the city's first line to use electric streetcars.

    West Side Railroad later merged into the Milwaukee Street Railway Co., which became The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Co. in 1896. The company was a predecessor of Wisconsin Electric Power Co. -- now doing business as We Energies.

    Friday, January 4, 2013

    Flashback Friday: Freezing fires

    In 1945, we added a mobile carbon dioxide fire extinguisher to our power plant safety equipment.

    The extinguisher contained 750 pounds of carbon dioxide that created a smothering effect at very low temperature. When the container was opened, the carbon dioxide expanded to form a gas in the atmosphere. Because the gas was heavier than oxygen, it created a "blanket" around the burning fuel and displaced the oxygen surrounding the fuel to extinguish a fire.

    Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers were invented by the Walter Kidde Co. in 1924 and are still used today.