Monday, June 26, 2017

Would-be scammer snared by social media post

We’re always on the lookout for criminals trying to scam our customers. When we were alerted about this post on Facebook, we notified Milwaukee Police:


The police suspect this was a scam to illegally re-connect customers and shared it with the person’s parole officer. Now, state authorities tell us the ex-con has been arrested for violation of parole due to the alleged illegal activity implied in his post.

Disconnected customers should avoid such scams. Remember:
  • Hiring an unauthorized party to illegally reconnect electric service could cause damage and lead to safety hazards such as electrocution or fire. 
  • Paying money for illegal reconnection does not erase past-due balances; that money is better spent making payment arrangements with us for positive reporting to credit agencies.
Energy theft is dangerous, illegal and expensive. Ultimately, we all end up paying for energy theft because the company recovers those costs in every customer’s bill.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Answers to common questions about power outages - Part 1

Reliable service is a hallmark of We Energies, but sometimes power outages happen. Here Dave Megna, vice president – Wisconsin system operations, and Duane Miller, manager – gas and electric distribution operations, answer five common questions about what you should do if one occurs.

Dave Megna, vice president -
Wisconsin system operations
What should I do if I have a power outage?

Dave: The first thing you want to do is call We Energies on the power outage hotline (800-662-4797) or report your outage online. Then give specifics about what you’re experiencing. Any information that you can provide – including anything you saw or heard – will help us better respond.

Do you know when my power is out, or do I need to call?

Dave: We do need you to contact us because the more reports we get, the better our system can pinpoint the damaged area or the outage that occurred. Making the phone call helps us restore power faster.

Should I assume that my neighbor is calling and I don’t need to contact you, or is it important for everybody in the neighborhood to call?

Dave: The more people that contact us, the better. Even if you think your neighbor will call, you should still report it. In fact, many people end up being out of power much longer because they figure somebody else took care of it.

Duane Miller, manager -
gas and electric distribution operations
What if my power isn’t out but I see something unusual, such as a flash or a downed wire, or I hear a boom?

Duane: It is very helpful for you to contact us because we can use that information. Quite often what you saw or heard may lead us to the cause of the incident and help us to restore other customers much more quickly, even if your power isn’t affected.

When should I call an electrician instead of We Energies?

Duane: You should call an electrician rather than We Energies if you have power in most of your home except one room or a very small section, or if there is a problem with the internal wiring in your home.

Dave: There are other cases when you might need both We Energies and the electrician. For instance, if a tree comes down and takes down your service mast – the pipe that runs up the side of your house that our wires connect to – you’ll need an electrician to put the mast back up and you’ll need We Energies to reinstall service.

Sometimes that can be a situation where you don’t know until We Energies comes out, but we may not be able to get there right away if it was a big storm. So if that wire is on the ground, report it so that we can get there, but then you’ll still need an electrician.

Even if you think your neighbor will call, you should still report outages 
or damage. What you saw or heard may help restore power more quickly.

Ready for s’more summer!

We Energies Cookie Book recipes are perfect for celebrations of all kinds. No matter the occasion, you’ll find a recipe that’s just right.

Summer is officially here! What better way to celebrate than with a classic summertime treat, s’mores? The original recipe for this all-American dessert was first published in 1927 as “Some Mores” by master campers, the Girl Scouts. 


But if you don’t find yourself sitting around a campfire as summer rolls in, try this kitchen-friendly twist on the fireside favorite. The 1991 We Energies Cookie Book featured the following recipe that includes graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows, but uses some easy baking, an 8-inch-square pan and your oven’s broiler to bring the s’mores indoors.   

S’mores

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
½ cup butter or margarine
¼ cup sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt

18 marshmallows cut into halves

Mix graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons melted butter in 8-inch square baking pan; press evenly in bottom of pan. Melt chocolate and  1/2 cup butter in medium saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Stir in 1/4 cup sugar and the eggs; mix in flour and salt. Spread batter over crust. Bake at 325 degrees until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Turn oven to broil. Place marshmallows, cut sides down, on cookies. Broil 6 inches from heat source until marshmallows are puffed and golden (watch carefully!). Cool on wire rack. Cut into 18 squares (2 marshmallows per square), cutting through marshmallows with scissors dipped in water. Makes 1 ½ dozen.

Need some baking inspiration? Our Cookie Book archive has recipes dating back to the 1930s. Go online and find your new favorite today!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Martin recognized as Woman of Influence by Milwaukee Business Journal

Many in the Milwaukee business community are familiar with Susan Martin’s legal background and her current roles as executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of WEC Energy Group. But Martin had a very different career previously – as an English professor.

Martin shared that history with the Milwaukee Business Journal as the publication interviewed her for its Women of Influence awards. She was recognized in the Corporate Executive category.

“I considered law school when I finished undergrad. But I chose to follow my first passion and pursue a Ph.D. in literature and language,” Martin said. “In many ways, the core work remains the same – reading and deciphering written texts, using language effectively to communicate and persuade.”
Susan Martin with Mark Kass of the Milwaukee Business Journal.
During her interview, Martin also discussed her role in the company’s acquisition of Integrys Energy Group and her key involvement in the Power the Future plan.

Martin and other Women of Influence award winners were recognized at a luncheon at the Wisconsin Center June 16. It was not her first honor from the Business Journal. In 2015, she was recognized as one of the publication’s Top Corporate Counsel award winners.

Martin is an active community member in Milwaukee, serving on the boards of the Milwaukee Public Museum, the United Community Center and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. She has been with the company since 2000.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Crews restored power to more than 100,000 customers this week

It has been a very busy week for We Energies crews after several rounds of severe weather. All told, our crews restored power to more than 100,000 customers in different parts of our service territory. 


It started Sunday, June 11, with severe weather in Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. That led to outages for more than 10,000 customers.


On Monday, June 12, severe storms hit Southeastern Wisconsin, impacting tens of thousands of additional customers. Hardest hit areas included Washington, Dodge and Fond du Lac counties.

Even more severe weather arrived Wednesday night, causing severe damage in our Fox Valley service territory. In nearby Green Bay, our sister company, Wisconsin Public Service (WPS), also saw immense damage in one of the worst storm events in the company’s history. WPS crews restored power to nearly 175,000 customers since last weekend.


We thank our crews for their tireless efforts, many of them working double shifts multiple days in a row in hot and humid weather. And we especially thank our customers for their patience throughout these events. Many of you have commented on our social media pages to thank our crews, and we really appreciate it.

Monday, June 12, 2017

We Energies peregrine falcon total tops 240

Eleven peregrine falcon chicks hatched at our power plants this spring, bringing the total number of peregrines produced at We Energies facilities to 244 since 1997. That accounts for nearly 20 percent of Wisconsin’s endangered peregrine falcon population. 

On June 11, we held our final falcon banding of the season at our Presque Isle Power Plant (PIPP) in Marquette, Michigan. Three chicks - Acadia, Bolt and Labo - were named by employees and their family members who attended the banding.

Greg Septon and employee Amanda Studinger hold Acadia, Labo and Bolt
Labo is named after longtime PIPP employee Greg LaBonte, whose nickname is Labo. LaBonte built and maintains the nest box at PIPP. 

Employee Greg LaBonte helped Septon band Labo, the bird named after him
Phoenix, an adult peregrine born at PIPP in 2011, also made a cameo at the banding. Phoenix was found badly injured in 2012. He lost an eye and would not be able to survive in the wild, so now he lives at the Chocolay Raptor Center where he serves as an educational ambassador.

Phoenix was born at PIPP in 2011

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Cookie Crumbs: Crisscross your way to Peanut Butter Cookie Day

We Energies Cookie Book recipes are perfect for celebrations of all kinds. No matter the occasion, you’ll find a recipe that’s just right.

Dating back to the book’s beginning when the recipe for Peanut Butter Balls (which were still flattened before baking) was printed – and reprinted – in the early 1930s, peanut butter cookie ideas seem to be a staple of the holidays. That includes the no-flour, the no-bake, the no-peanut-butter-in-the-name and the extra-peanut-butter-in-the-recipe varieties.

It was the 2016 Cookie Book, though, that featured the Best Peanut Butter Cookies recipe, as submitted by Nheena Weyer Ittner from the U.P. Children’s Museum. Try it and see if you agree. Make a batch to share on June 12 – Peanut Butter Cookie Day – and don’t forget to add the crisscross pattern. It’s tradition!

Best Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In mixing bowl, cream shortening, peanut butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture; mix well.

Shape into 1-inch balls; place on greased cookie sheets. Flatten with fork in crisscross pattern.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on wire cooling racks. Makes about 4 dozen.

Need some baking inspiration? Our Cookie Book archive has recipes dating back to the 1930s. Go online and find your new favorite today!

We Energies recipes

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

19,000 days without a lost-time injury

The Iron Range Meter Service team, located in northeast Wisconsin and northern Michigan, reached two venerable milestones in the past week: 52 years without a lost-time injury as of June 1, and an even 19,000 days without a lost-time injury as of June 8.

In other words, the last time they experienced a lost-time injury, humans hadn’t even landed on the moon.

Of course, a lot has changed during that time.

“Conditions years ago were different,” says Rick Lapp, meter reader (north), who has been with We Energies for 32 years. “There were a couple winters where we were on snow shoes from Dec. 1 all the way to May. We don’t do that much anymore. Same with dogs. It seems I used to pet a dog every other minute; now, it’s hardly ever.”

Working in northeast Wisconsin and northern Michigan means 
safely accessing meters even in extreme weather conditions. 
“The manner in which we do our jobs has changed,” adds Jeanette Larison, meter reader (north), who has been with the company for 14 years. “A lot of rushing has been taken out. We can pay attention to risk quite a bit more, further reducing the potential for injury.”

Much of that is due to the drive-by system instituted during the past decade, allowing the meter readers to drive by locations and read the meters from their vehicles, instead of walking up to every meter to read them manually. But that still leaves a lot of driving time – as much as 300 miles a day, in addition to commuting to and from home – with potential hazards ranging from road conditions to wildlife such as deer, wolves, bears and moose.

“They’re like a 20-pound sandbag coming through your windshield,” is how Tony Westerberg, meter testing leader (north), describes the danger even wild turkeys pose.

“Not structured communication, but caring communication”

What hasn’t changed throughout each of the 19,000 days is the level of communication that takes place among the team.

“We communicate to each other things we find in the field that could be a hazard,” Larison says.

They talk about them in safety meetings and, perhaps more important, they make safety topics part of their routine conversations with coworkers, with the linemen and gas fitters they come into contact with, and even with employees from other utilities.

Meter staff in 2015 accepting 50th year without lost-time injury award.
“Having a good bunch of people to work with and that you can talk to really helps, and this always has been a good group to work with,” Lapp says.

Westerberg, who has been with We Energies for 26 years, also credits the company’s program for tracking actions or situations that could have resulted in injury, death or property damage, but for some reason didn’t – this time. “It documents working conditions for us to be aware of so that we’re safety-conscious in all directions,” he explains.

He agrees with Larison and Lapp that it’s the daily conversations that help keep each other safe, as well as the notations they make in their records. He gave the example of the record for one residence that noted, “Beware of raccoons.” During the next meter reading, which still needed to be done manually, the reader saw the notation and knew to look around the property’s out buildings, where he found the area where the raccoons seemed to frequent. He made sure not to aggravate them.

“We communicate all those subtle things, and that plays a critical part in our ongoing safety. It’s not a structured communication, but a caring communication,” Westerberg says, adding that going home healthy and with all parts intact – and making sure your coworkers can do the same – is what it’s all about.

Taking safety home

It’s not just going home that’s important, but being safe there, too. Westerberg describes that his attire when cutting grass in the summer consists of shorts and a tank top, as well as safety glasses and boots. “My neighbors may think I look odd, but it’s safety first,” he says.

Lapp also lives the safety mentality at home, teaching it to his children. His daughter works in landscaping, where cutting and moving 50-pound pavers is part of her day. “I told her to get safety-toed shoes, and to wear a mask and safety glasses when cutting the pavers,” he says. “Because you’re aware of safety issues, you try to make your kids aware of them, and that comes from working here.”

His safety tip? “As I tell my kids, just pay attention, period – whether it’s to the other driver or to conditions.”

Westerberg agrees, pointing to the importance of “aim-high driving.”

“Be aware of what is off in the distance. Look way up, beyond the car ahead of the car in front of you. If you see a deer crossing, chances are there is more than one. Watch your mirrors, too, for what’s coming up behind you. Some things are uncontrollable, but other things like aim-high driving help save potential situations from happening.

“Some people may say, ‘Yeah, but what didn’t get reported?’” Westerberg adds. “Believe what you like, but we’ve gone home safely every day so far. We’re proud of it, but just happy to go home safe.”

Lapp agrees. “Setting a record is good, but going through each day without a lost-time injury is how it should be.”

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Big league kick-off for Habitat’s build season

We Energies is again partnering with Habitat for Humanity to help the agency revitalize Milwaukee’s Washington Park neighborhood, just blocks from one of our service centers.

Sponsors were invited to help kick off the summer build season with the Milwaukee Brewers on June 6. Left fielder Ryan Braun and pitcher Matt Garza helped Milwaukee Habitat launch a week-long blitz build on behalf of the Brewers Community Foundation. The We Energies Foundation is part of the Brewers Community Foundation Leadership Council, contributing money to efforts like this.

We Energies employees pose with Ryan Braun and Matt Garza.
We Energies volunteers again will help at various work sites in the Washington Park neighborhood. We Energies Foundation dollars are being dedicated to Habitat’s critical repair program, which makes critical home repairs affordable for qualified homeowners in the Washington Park neighborhood. Our foundation also has sponsored the construction of two homes in the area in the past.

“I keep coming back because I love giving back to the community,” said Mekisha Linton, a We Energies employee who has volunteered on several Habitat builds. “I love expanding home ownership to new families and to the community. It means a lot to me.”

Employees have fun with the Brewers Racing Sausages.
This week’s blitz build kicks off a build season where Milwaukee Habitat will serve 35 families in need of safe, affordable housing through new construction, home rehab and critical home repair. The June 6 event took place on North 31st Street along a stretch where four new Habitat homes are being constructed.

Oak Creek Power Plant's fishing pier: a great place to drop a line

Oak Creek Power Plant's fishing pier extends into Lake Michigan to provide anglers a place to cast their lines. The pier is open daylight hours through Nov. 15 – weather permitting.

Although located on private We Energies property, the pier is open to the public for fishing and provides picnic tables, trash bins and access to a nearby public beach. Swimming, boat launching and fires are not allowed, but the beach welcomes walkers and dogs.



Al Kunda, maintenance planner – We Energies at the Oak Creek plant, uses Lake-Link’s Oak Creek Power Plant pier forum to update fishing enthusiasts on the pier’s status and closures. He noted the pier is subject to closures “at any time due to poor weather conditions, early snowfalls in fall, late snowfalls in spring and extreme high surf due to strong easterly winds,” making Lake-Link a good resource to check before taking up your tackle.

The Oak Creek Power Plant pier is a good spot to catch coho and chinook salmon, and brown, rainbow and lake trout, among other types of fish. The fish are attracted to the change in water current and the slightly elevated temperature of the water discharging from the power plant. On a clear day, fish can be seen swimming in the plant’s discharge channel.

Although we can’t promise a good catch, we can provide a scenic space to try your luck.

To access the pier, take East Oakwood Road from South Howell Avenue, turn onto Fishing Pier Road and then take North Bowl Road to park.

The Oak Creek fishing pier, located near our power plant, is open 
through Nov. 15.
Map to the fishing pier.


Fishing reports
Lake-Link
DNR (check Milwaukee South)


Friday, June 2, 2017

Major milestone: Our peregrine falcon manager bands 1,000th chick

Our peregrine falcon manager, Greg Septon, reached a major milestone in his career as a biologist Friday. He banded his 1,000th peregrine falcon chick at our Port Washington Generating Station, capping off three decades of recovery work to rebuild Wisconsin’s endangered peregrine population.

Septon named the 1,000th chick "Buckshot," a tribute to his passion for hunting.
Septon retrieved three chicks from the power plant’s nest box early Friday morning, bringing them inside to apply their wildlife bands. A captive audience watched in awe, many of them associates of Septon who were invited as surprise guests. Septon’s wife and daughter also were on hand for the special event. 

Mike Grisar, We Energies principal environmental consultant, organized the event. He has worked closely with Septon for more than a decade. “Greg, I can’t tell you how honored we are to have you partner with us on this and really allow us to be the host for the work that you’ve done,” Grisar told Septon. 

Septon with his award, proclamation, and a cake adorned with a picture of "Atlanta."
Grisar then presented Septon with an award and proclamation, which stated, “We Energies is honoring the steadfast commitment and unyielding dedication of Greg Septon for his tireless efforts in leading the recovery of the peregrine falcon.” 

Septon and Mike Grisar hold Buckshot, Millennial Falcon and Oscar.
Septon shared a story to illustrate the importance of his banding efforts. He talked about “Atlanta,” a falcon born in 1996 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Several months later, she was found shot in Indiana. After extensive rehabilitation, she was released in Racine, Wisconsin. She then made stops in Indiana and Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, before finally settling at our Oak Creek Power Plant where she spent twelve years and produced 41 young. “We wouldn’t know any of that without her wildlife bands,” said Septon.

Today, thanks to Septon’s efforts, there are more than 30 known nest sites in Wisconsin. Last year, 103 young were produced at these sites. This year’s total is still being tallied. At We Energies facilities alone, 244 peregrines have been born under Septon’s watch.

Related:
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Students attend falcon bandings at We Energies power plants

The We Energies falcon family is growing with two new additions banded Tuesday at our Pleasant Prairie Power Plant. Named Flash and Cyclone by a fourth-grade class from Meadowview Elementary School in Oak Creek, these rare birds were marked with fish and wildlife service bands by peregrine falcon manager Greg Septon. Both birds are female.
Students from Mr. Patneaude's fourth-grade class with Flash and Cyclone.

Last week, a class of sixth-graders from Trinity Lutheran School in Waukesha named two falcon chicks at Valley Power Plant. Batman (the male) and Eagle (the female) were named by the students, quickly banded by Septon and returned to their nest box.

Both sets of students earned the chance to attend the bandings by winning our poster contest with creative entries. While the Trinity Lutheran School students made a three-dimensional poster full of falcon facts, the Meadowview students were inspired by the P.D. Eastman book, “The Best Nest,” to write a rhyme of their own from a peregrine’s point of view:
I love my house
I love my nest
In all of Wisconsin,
We Energies’ nest is best!

Batman and Eagle at Valley Power Plant.
We think the chicks hatched and banded at Pleasant Prairie and Valley Power Plants would agree. But they can’t stay forever; soon these birds will shed their fluffy white feathers and and fledge in preparation to leave the nest. Keep an eye on our Facebook, Twitter and Falcon Cam to watch it happen.

Friday, May 26, 2017

We Energies husband-wife team rescues driver after dangerous crash

The vehicle went through the fence into the water.
It’s not often that married couple Joe and Kim Young drive into work together. Although they are both employees of We Energies, they work at different locations. Commuting together Friday morning turned into a heroic event that they will never forget.

As they made their way on I-43 northbound in New Berlin, a car swerved in front of them, rolled over, broke through a chain link fence and landed in a small pond.

Joe immediately jumped into action and told Kim to dial 911. He ran down to the car and found the fence on top of the vehicle. He and another passerby pulled the fence from the vehicle. They noticed the airbags were deployed and water was entering the car.

“I can’t imagine how the woman was feeling,” said Kim.

Joe and a passerby were able to navigate through blown air bags to pull the woman to safety. The woman was shaken, but not seriously hurt.

“He knew exactly what to do. He just jumped into action and brought her to safety,” said Kim. “He was pretty amazing.”

Joe said that all of the safety training from We Energies he has received over the years just fell into play.

“Safety is at the core of our business. We train not just to keep our employees safe, but also to keep the public safe. Joe and Kim’s actions showed that commitment by saving this woman in her hour of need,” said Kevin Fletcher, president of We Energies.

Joe humbly added, “I just hope someone would stop for my wife if something like this would ever happen to her.”

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Honor Flight ‘very meaningful for all involved’

We Energies employee volunteers helped World War II, Korean War and other veterans as they embarked on a Stars and Stripes Honor Flight that departed early Sunday morning from Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport.
Bob Hunter and Randy Jerome at Arlington 
Cemetery.

Among these volunteers were two guardians who traveled to Washington, D.C., with the 90 veterans: Randy Jerome and Renee Rabiego-Tiller, two employees with military ties. Their connections to the Honor Flight through their families were highlighted in an earlier post.

“I am very proud the company supports the Honor Flights, and it was my privilege to represent the company,” said Jerome of his experience as a guardian. “The Stars and Stripes Honor Flight organization did a tremendous job in shepherding the group and making it very meaningful for all involved.”

Jerome and Rabiego-Tiller were joined by 13 other We Energies employees who volunteered to help with the morning send-off at the airport.

Employee Amy Cowdery was reunited
with a high school friend.
“Throughout the day, I was incredibly proud and pleased when a multitude of strangers young and old, from the USA and from foreign countries, stopped our veterans to thank them for their service,” Rabiego-Tiller said. “It was especially touching while visiting the Korean memorial when citizens from South Korea stopped our veterans to take pictures with them and to thank them for fighting for their country.”  

“The morning was incredibly emotional and rewarding,” said Amy Cowdery, a We Energies IT specialist, whose parents were active in veterans’ organizations when she was growing up. “I greeted the veterans and their guardians as they arrived while assisting with their check-in process. I was able to meet and talk with many of the veterans and especially enjoyed talking to the sole female veteran on this flight. A highlight of the morning was running into a friend from high school who was able to volunteer one last time as active military before her upcoming retirement from the military after 21 years of service.”  

“I loved, loved, loved it!” said Celia Chramega, a gas operations employee, whose father was a veteran and past Honor Flight participant. “I thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of the morning with these great guys and walked away feeling warm and fuzzy inside because it was my dad’s birthday and I wanted to do this in memory of him. I even wore his Honor Flight jacket.”

“It was a really early morning, but well worth it. All of the veterans that I talked to were animated as they talked about the day ahead of them,” said Judy Runt, another employee, whose uncle was recently on an Honor Flight. “The guardians I talked to felt grateful to be able to experience and enjoy this with the veterans. The Stars and Stripes Honor Flight staff was very well organized, and you could tell that they had worked hard to make this a success for all involved.” 

“I really enjoyed the experience and would love to have the opportunity to do it again,” said Christy Schultz (right), computer system specialist, who was joined by Judy Runt, team leader, and 11 other We Energies colleagues who helped during the morning send off on May 21.

Friday, May 19, 2017

We Energies honors veterans through Stars and Stripes Honor Flight

On Sunday, May 21, 90 U.S. military veterans of foreign wars will travel on a   
We Energies-sponsored flight to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials that honor their service.

We Energies has been involved with Stars and Stripes Honor Flight since its inception in 2008. The company is sending two guardians to Washington with the veterans: Randy Jerome, manager customer solutions south – wholesale energy and fuels, and Renee Rabiego-Tiller, manager meter to bill process – customer service.

Both employees have family members who are veterans. In fact, Jerome comes from a military family. Both of his grandfathers served in World War II, three of his older siblings served in different branches of the military, and Jerome himself served in the Wisconsin Air National Guard.

Roland Jerome (left) and Roland Tritz (right) both served in WWII and are the grandfathers of Randy Jerome (center), pictured while serving in the Wisconsin Air National Guard. Randy will honor his grandfathers and fellow servicemen and women by acting as a guardian on Sunday’s Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. 

“In my heart, I will be traveling for my grandfathers and will be thinking of them, and the bravery of all who have served and died for the great country we live in,” Jerome said. “I also will be focused on the care of the Korean War era veteran I will be traveling with, as it is his day and I want it to be a safe, memorable and an honorable day for him. I will look forward to learning from him, should he be willing to share what his experiences were like.”

Like Jerome’s grandfathers, Rabiego-Tiller’s father served in WWII. He was a member of the 801st/492nd Air Corps, which was part of the Office of Strategic Services (a predecessor to the CIA), U.S. Special Operations Command and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. As a top gunner, he and his crew flew supplies to the resistance in occupied Europe, which meant flying at low altitudes, only at night and by moonlight, without any lights on their plane.

“All of the members were sworn to secrecy for 40 years after the war. My dad never spoke about his service until he was contacted in the mid-1990s to attend a reunion,” she said. “After he attended his first reunion, he started to slowly share stories about his experiences in the war.”

Renee Rabiego-Tiller will serve as one of two guardians from We Energies on the May 21 Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. Her father, shown on right in the back row, served in World War II, flying supplies to the resistance in occupied Europe.





So Rabiego-Tiller understood when the veteran she will be escorting on the flight told her he canceled his first Honor Flight because he was not ready to go. She said he has since “done some soul searching and said he is ready now. He also will be honoring his two brothers-in-law, who are deceased, who were in WWII and never had a chance to visit their memorial.”

The guardians, as well as multiple We Energies volunteers who will assist the veterans at Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport on Sunday morning, are honored to take part in the flight. Three hundred and forty-nine letters from We Energies employees will be part of mail call, a special time on the return flight when veterans read messages from friends, families and individuals they have never met expressing their gratitude. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

K’s for a Cause supports veterans through the We Energies Foundation

It’s baseball season! This year, We Energies and the Milwaukee Brewers are working together to support local veterans through a program called K’s for a Cause. For every strikeout, or “K,” thrown by Brewers pitchers at Miller Park, the We Energies Foundation contributes $25 to Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative (MHVI).

“We’re so glad to have two great organizations supporting us in We Energies and the Milwaukee Brewers,” said Kirsten Sobieski, executive director of MHVI. “They are pillars of the community, and it’s great to see them help us and help the veterans.”

Sobieski is a veteran herself, having spent 10 years with the Army and Army Reserves, including two on active duty. She also orchestrates a program within MHVI, the Women Veterans Initiative (WOVIN), which helps female veterans learn more about opportunities available to them through veterans’ organizations.

“The We Energies Foundation is pleased to support Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative as they work to help homeless and at-risk veterans in our community reach and maintain their highest levels of independence,” said Beth Straka, senior vice president – corporate communications and investor relations, WEC Energy Group, and vice president, We Energies Foundation. “We look forward to a winning Brewers season and a successful K’s for a Cause promotion.”

Individual game and season-long strikeouts will be tracked on Miller Park’s new K meter – an 80-foot digital sign, located in right field.

Both K’s for a Cause and the Brewers are off to a great start; in the first month of the season, Brewer pitchers recorded 130 strikeouts at Miller Park, bringing the contribution total to $3,250 through April 30.

The donations made through K’s for a Cause will go to the MHVI emergency fund. Sobieski indicated that the donations support everything from keeping veterans in financial crisis from becoming homeless to putting gas in the MHVI delivery trucks. “Without government money, we rely heavily on these types of donations to make sure we can do all the things that we do without anything falling through the cracks,” said Sobieski.

Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Contest winners announced as falcon cam goes live

Congratulations to the winners of our peregrine falcon poster contest. Mike Patneaude’s fourth-grade class at Meadowview Elementary School in Oak Creek, and John Ganey’s sixth-grade class at Trinity Lutheran School in Waukesha developed creative, educational displays that really caught our attention.

Here’s their handy work:

 
Entry from Trinity Lutheran School in Waukesha.
Entry from Meadowview Elementary School 
in Oak Creek.
Both classes win a field trip to a peregrine falcon banding at one of our power plants this spring. They will get to name the chicks, and their schools will be reimbursed up to $250 from the We Energies Foundation for transportation expenses. Winning classes also get a visit from our peregrine falcon manager, Greg Septon, prior to their field trip to learn more about our program.

Thanks to everyone who entered our contest. We received more than a dozen entries. Students incorporated facts about the We Energies peregrine falcon recovery program into their posters, displays and artwork.

Everyone can follow the activity at our power plant nest boxes this spring through our webcams at www.we-energies.com/falcons.

For now, the live feed is focused on our Valley Power Plant in downtown Milwaukee where eggs are expected to hatch any day. The live feed will be rotated to our other sites as hatching occurs elsewhere.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Bald eagle and osprey recovery continues in Wisconsin

For decades, We Energies has supported the recovery of bald eagle and osprey populations. These raptor species once thrived in the Midwest, but DDT use and habitat loss led to dramatic population declines between the 1950s and 1970s. Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has watched their development over the last four decades. In 2016, the DNR recorded the highest number of nesting sites since monitoring began in 1973.

We Energies employees assist with
an eagle banding in May 2016. 
The DNR’s aerial survey results were released in December. The results show 1,504 occupied bald eagle nests, 39 more than in 2015, and 558 occupied osprey nests, 16 more than in 2015. To put this further in perspective, the 1973 survey recorded only 108 eagle and 92 osprey nests.

“The comeback of our great raptors since their near-demise just over 50 years ago is truly remarkable,” said Mike Grisar, principal environmental consultant at We Energies. “Without the hard work of the resource managers and the aid of utility companies, the recovery of these species would certainly not have been so successful.”

Utilities have a major role to play in raptor conservation due to the species’ nesting habits. Bald eagles and ospreys both tend to build their large nests in the tallest trees available – or, on occasion, the tallest utility poles, which can result in power outages and harm to the birds.

We have worked with the DNR and environmental nonprofits since the early 1980s to help raptor populations recover. Our Bald Eagle Protection Plan prevents disturbances to nesting eagles, preserves canopy trees for future nesting sites and offers public financial incentive to report raptor nests on company lands. When we discover an occupied nest near a project site, we evaluate each situation and develop a strategy to avoid impacting active nests.


Our field crews also erect nesting platforms for raptors, primarily osprey. As these raptor diets rely heavily on fish, the platforms are typically raised near water. They stand taller than any manmade structures in the area, encouraging raptors to choose them in favor of utility poles, and they expand nesting opportunities in wetlands, along lakeshores and in other areas with limited mature tree growth. We collaborate with environmental and wildlife agencies to monitor raptor activity and attach leg bands for conservation research.

Grisar has helped coordinate company efforts for raptor recovery since the mid-2000s, and he has seen their numbers rise almost every year. He is optimistic about their future in Wisconsin and Michigan.

“It is an honor to work for a utility company that has such commitment to environmental stewardship, and it is humbling to know we have made such a difference,” Grisar said.

We are dedicated to keeping our customers and local wildlife safe. With nests weighing up to 200 pounds, eagles and ospreys can damage power lines and cause arcing, power outages and nest fires. If you see a raptor building a nest on a live power line, please contact our 24-hour customer service at 800-242-9317.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Saying thank you on Lineman Appreciation Day

April 18 is National Lineman Appreciation Day, a time to recognize the contributions of the men and women who respond to electric outages and emergencies for our customers.

We caught up with apprentice line mechanics at one of our training centers Tuesday. They were practicing their skills on a warm, sunny day, but frequently, they’re restoring power in less-than-ideal conditions.

“Rain, sleet, snow, the worst of it, lightning, tornadoes. You name it, we’re in it,” said Joel Frappier veteran line mechanic and instructor.

He shared his thoughts about the profession, something he refers to as “a calling.” He is following in his father’s footsteps.

“My dad was a lineman for 38 years at another utility, so for me, it was kind of in my blood.”

Appreciating the work of our line mechanics is appropriate today – and every day.

Falcon eggs present at 5 power plants

Peregrine falcons that nest at our power plants are getting ready to welcome young. Eggs now are present at all five of our power plant nest boxes. Here’s how things are shaping up at each site:

Pleasant Prairie Power Plant
PBR is back for his sixth year and is joined by an unbanded female. Their four eggs are expected to hatch May 6-8.
Unbanded female at Pleasant Prairie
Oak Creek Power Plant
Eclipse is back for her seventh year and is joined by a new male, Michael, who was born in 2015 at the Racine County Courthouse. Their four eggs are expected to hatch May 6-9.

Michael at Oak Creek 

Valley Power Plant – Milwaukee
Hercules is back for a fourth year at this site. He’s the offspring of another Valley Power Plant falcon, Herbert, who was injured and now resides at the Wisconsin Humane Society as an educational ambassador. Hercules’ mate is an unbanded female. Their three eggs are expected to hatch April 30-May 2. 

Unbanded female at Valley
Port Washington Generating Station
Brinn is back for her fourth year and is accompanied by a new mate, Beasley, who was born at the Milwaukee County Power Plant in 2014. Their three eggs are expected to hatch May 12-15.

Brinn at Port Washington
Presque Isle Power Plant – Marquette, Michigan
Maya Angelou is back for her seventh year. Her mate is an unbanded male. So far, one egg is at the site, which was laid over Easter weekend.

One egg at Presque Isle


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Severe Weather Awareness Week

Two tornado drills will occur on April 20 at 1:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. The first drill is to help schools and businesses prepare for storm season. The second drill is an opportunity for families to create and review their emergency plans. Governor Scott Walker has declared April 17-21, 2017 as Wisconsin's Tornado & Severe Weather Awareness Week.

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 resolve.

Be prepared and know what to do should a power outage occur. Assemble an emergency kit and keep it where it’s easy to find in the dark.

Suggested items:
· Flashlights and extra batteries
· Blankets
· Water-half gallon/day per person
· Canned or dried food
· Hand-operated can opener
· First-aid kit
· Prescription medications
· Specialty items for infants, seniors or disabled family members

If you have advance notice of severe storms or other conditions that may lead to extended power outages, consider taking additional precautions:
· Set freezer and refrigerator colder to help food stay safe longer
· Fill vehicle gas tank (gas station pumps do not operate without power)
· Get cash (credit or debit cards may not work if power is out)
· Charge devices, especially cell phones; consider spare power
· Know emergency shelter locations
· Get bottled water, other supplies

Other considerations:
· Battery back-up for sump pump
· Solar power cell phone charger
· Generator to power important appliances
· Surge suppression devices for protection when power returns
· Card or board games to pass time
· Dry ice for refrigerator/freezer
· Frozen jugs of water
· Well-being of friends, neighbors and relatives

Any changes to the mock tornado drill will be posted on the ReadyWisconsin website.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Teachers: Win a falcon-naming field trip for your class!

Attention teachers: Your class could win a field trip to a peregrine falcon banding and name the chicks! We’re looking for classes in grades 3-6 to enter a poster contest.

This spring, peregrine falcon chicks are expected to hatch at four of our power plants (fingers crossed). When the chicks are about three weeks old, they’ll be given wildlife bands. Your class could win a unique opportunity to see this endangered species up close, and our foundation will help fund your trip! 

Winning classes also will get:
  • A classroom visit from our peregrine manager prior to the banding field trip
  • $250 reimbursement from the We Energies Foundation for field trip transportation expenses 
How to enter: Create a poster about peregrine falcons and send us a picture of the finished product. Classes will find plenty of falcon facts at: www.we-energies.com/falcons. Points will be given for creativity, and to those who highlight We Energies falcon recovery efforts! We may share your creations on our social media channels. And the best of the best will win a falcon field trip. 

Students from Carollton Elementary School went to the
falcon banding at our Oak Creek Power Plant last May.
Rules:
  • Email a picture of your students’ poster to: contest@we-energies.com
  • No larger than 10 MB
  • Deadline: April 27 
  • Include:
    • Teacher’s name
    • Teacher’s phone number
    • Teacher’s email address
    • School mailing address
    • Grade level
    • Class size
  • Open to grades 3-6
  • Class size no more than 30 students
  • One entry per classroom
  • Banding dates aren't set until eggs hatch
  • There’s no guarantee eggs will hatch
  • Banding dates are not flexible
  • Bandings typically take one hour 
  • Bandings generally are scheduled between 9-11 a.m.
  • Committee will evaluate entries and choose winners
  • Winning classes will be featured on social media 
  • Winning classes also may appear on local media
    • Teachers are responsible for media waivers
  • Winners will be announced May 1
  • School visits will be scheduled the week of May 15 
  • Banding field trips will be scheduled at the end of May/early June 
  • Schools must be willing to travel to one of these power plants: 
    • Valley Power Plant, Milwaukee
    • Oak Creek Power Plant, Oak Creek
    • Pleasant Prairie Power Plant, Pleasant Prairie
    • Port Washington Generating Station, Port Washington

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Proposal to freeze rates for two more years

Good news! We want to freeze your base rates through the end of 2019. You would pay the same base rate you’ve been paying since 2016. That means four years without an increase!

We’re asking the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) to approve our plan, which would benefit our more than 1 million customers.

We also are asking the PSCW to let us extend a pricing program that has helped businesses expand their operations. The program has already helped create more than 2,000 Wisconsin jobs. Now, we want to make that program permanent.

Companies across our service area are in favor of a rate freeze and the expansion of pricing programs that have helped them grow. We’ve also received positive feedback from legislative leaders and organizations such as the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) and Waukesha County Business Alliance.

We’re hopeful that the PSCW will approve this settlement – including a base rate freeze – which is in everyone’s best interest.

Employee helps save driver pinned under utility pole

Tom Dudek believes it was fate that brought him to an accident scene in Racine County last weekend. The We Energies employee doesn’t normally work on Sundays, but a special switching job had him headed down Highway 83 shortly after 5 a.m.

As Dudek approached Waterford, he saw flashing lights and hit a roadblock. Police assumed he was there to help.

“They told me a woman was trapped in her car and there were wires down,” said Dudek. 


Police had called We Energies for help. Another employee was on the way but hadn’t arrived yet. Dudek jumped into action when he saw the car pinned underneath a utility pole and wires.

“It was pretty dramatic. I could hear the driver crying. She was half in the car and half out,” said Dudek.

First responders couldn’t rescue the woman without risking electrocution. Dudek worked quickly to ensure the wires were de-energized and made the scene safe.

Fellow employee Bob Koenecke got to the scene about 30 minutes later due to the distance he had to travel. He assisted Dudek with repairs while the driver was taken to the hospital by helicopter.

“The driver would’ve been stuck there longer had I not been driving by when I did,” said Dudek. “It was sheer luck that it happened the way it did.”

The driver, Elizabeth Floyd, escaped the accident with a few bruises and some fractured ribs. She says she’s “lucky to be alive.”

“I want to thank him,” Floyd said about Dudek. “It was very scary and traumatizing.”

Floyd’s first instinct was to try and crawl out of her car, but first responders cautioned her to stay inside because of the potentially energized power line.

If you’re ever in a similar situation, stay inside your vehicle and call 911. Don’t exit your vehicle until rescue workers say it’s safe to leave.

If you MUST leave your vehicle because of fire or other danger, JUMP away from the vehicle so that you do not touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time. Then, land with your feet together and shuffle away.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Cookie Crumbs: Hit it out of the park with Roberto’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

We Energies Cookie Book recipes are perfect for celebrations of all kinds. No matter the occasion, you’ll find a recipe that’s just right.

The chocolate chip cookie was invented in Massachusetts in the 1930s, making it truly an American classic – and a great dessert to pair with our national pastime. The Milwaukee Brewers opening day is coming up on April 3, after all, and your game day party or tailgate will be all the sweeter with a platter of Roberto’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. This particular recipe has a unique claim to fame: It was submitted to us by Brewers owner Mark Attanasio and his wife, Debbie.

The Attanasios contributed to our 2016 Cookie Book, the Wisconsin Heritage edition, which featured recipes from many notable names in Wisconsin entertainment, culture, business and industry. Among them are recipes from Admirals owner Harris Turer and Bucks head coach Jason Kidd, so you can celebrate Milwaukee teams with crowd-pleasing cookies year-round.

Roberto’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars; beat in eggs and vanilla. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes. Cool on wire cooling racks. Makes about four dozen.

Need more baking inspiration? Our Cookie Book archive has recipes dating back to the 1930s. Go online and find your new favorite today!