Friday, August 11, 2017

Contest winner makes canine cameo in new ad

The winner of our Safe Digging contest, Charlie, got to enjoy the grand unveiling of his winning ad at Energy Park on Aug. 11. The adorable Goldendoodle, along with his owners, Breanne and Jeff Beyer of Kaukauna, helped celebrate 8-11 day -- a day to raise awareness about calling 811, Diggers Hotline.

Charlie sporting a We Energies hard hat.
We asked customers to submit photos of their dogs digging in the yard and received dozens of entries. Charlie received the most votes from the public. Now, he gets to be ambassador for our Safe Digging campaign and spread an important message: Doggone it! Call 811 before you dig.

Charlie and the Beyers of Kaukauna.
Whether you’re planting a tree or installing a mailbox, call 811 at least three days before starting your project to help ensure that you avoid underground utility lines when you dig. You can put yourself in serious danger by striking an underground electric or natural gas line.

You can see Charlie’s winning ad on display at Energy Park throughout the duration of the Wisconsin State Fair. For his effort, Charlie also earned a basket of goodies, including dog treats and a special 811 frisbee.

Safe digging tips

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lamb purchased at Governor’s Blue Ribbon Auction supports youth in agriculture

We have been presenting games and demonstrations on energy generation, distribution and safety at Energy Park, our exhibition center at the Wisconsin State Fair since the start of the fair on Aug. 3. We also have hosted cooking and gardening lessons to help visitors enjoy Wisconsin’s agricultural bounty, as well as birds of prey shows with the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center.

But we’re not just exhibitors at the fair – we’re also guests, appreciating the effort that goes into the achievements on display. We Energies and its sister company Wisconsin Public Service work directly with many Wisconsin farmers to supply agricultural energy services, including the electricity needed for dairy and livestock farms’ lighting and cooling systems.

“We work with customers for on-farm wiring safety, rewiring, energy efficiency and any needs they may have as they look to build another barn, or change some of their electrical system and upgrade it,” said Jason Kollwelter, manager – agriculture services and customer-owned generation, in a recent interview with Lake Effect’s Mitch Teich.

We also show our support for the agricultural community in other ways. On Aug. 9, we participated in the 49th annual Governor’s Blue Ribbon Auction at the fair. The auction celebrates the strength of Wisconsin’s livestock industry and the accomplishments of junior exhibitors planning for a future in agriculture. The We Energies Foundation entered the winning bid for a champion natural colored lamb exhibited by Brady Meudt of Walworth County. We then donated the lamb back to the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction Scholarship Fund.

This year’s auction raised a total of $267,000 for the individual exhibitors, the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation and youth scholarship awards. We’re glad to have contributed, and we hope to see many more of our customers before the fair ends on Sunday night.

Exhibitor Brady Meudt (front) with his champion lamb. In back (left to right): Scott Lauber, director – We Energies Foundation board; Bob Juneau, senior agriculture account manager, WPS; Beth Straka, vice president – We Energies Foundation; Brad Brusveen, senior agriculture account manager, We Energies; Corey Kuchta, supervisor – agriculture services and customer-owned generation, WPS; and Jason Kollwelter, manager – agriculture services and customer-owned generation, We Energies.

Monday, July 31, 2017

And the winner is…

It was a “ruff” competition, but the winner of our Safe Digging contest is: Charlie!

Charlie's winning picture.
Charlie’s picture earned the most votes in our online contest where more than 2,000 votes were cast. 

Charlie, a Goldendoodle, captured the majority – 17 percent. Charlie’s owners, Breanne and Jeff Beyer of Kaukauna, Wisconsin, tell us Charlie is about 5 months old and loves to get into mischief and dig in the yard.

“Jeff is a landscape foreman, so we have a lot of landscaping to tempt him,” Breanne said. 

Jeff’s job also means the family is very familiar with calling 811, making Charlie a “qualified” canine safety ambassador. 

“Jeff is obviously familiar with calling Diggers Hotline before working,” Breanne said. 

Our new canine safety ambassador, Charlie.
Stay tuned for Charlie’s Safe Digging ad, which will be unveiled at Energy Park at the Wisconsin State Fair on Aug. 11 (8-11) ‒ a day to raise awareness about dialing 811 three days before you dig.

Charlie will help us spread an important safety message: Doggone it! Call Diggers Hotline (811) before you dig. 

Charlie also will get a basket of doggy treats. Congrats to Charlie and the Beyer family and thanks to all the pet owners who submitted photos in our contest. Our first runner up, BW, also "dug up" a lot of votes. 

Runner-up, BW.
Safe digging tips

Friday, July 21, 2017

Cookie Crumbs: Cheer on Festa Italiana with sesame seed 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.

July 21 marks the beginning of Festa Italiana. The first ethnic festival launched in Milwaukee and the largest Italian-American event of its kind, Festa Italiana is now celebrating its 40th anniversary. Visitors this weekend will enjoy delicious Italian cuisine, traditional games and dances, music, historical exhibits and more. Italian cooking can help you get into the Festa spirit at any time of year.

With a blend of savory and sweet flavors, these Italian sesame seed cookies are a wonderful complement to a cappuccino. The recipe was submitted to us by Giacomo Fallucca, president and CEO of Palermo’s Pizza, who calls Milwaukee home. Fallucca contributed to our 2016 Cookie Book, the Wisconsin Heritage edition, which featured recipes from many notable names in Wisconsin entertainment, culture, business and industry.

Italian Sesame Seed Cookies
Italian Sesame Seed Cookie

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon anise extract, divided
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sesame seeds
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla and 1/8 teaspoon anise extract; mix well. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture; mix well. Shape small amounts of dough into 1/2-inch logs; cut into 2-inch-long pieces. Place sesame seeds in shallow bowl. In separate shallow bowl, combine milk and 1/8 teaspoon anise extract. Roll pieces in milk mixture, then coat in sesame seeds. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 425 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on wire cooling racks. Makes about 7 dozen.

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Employees, foundation aid Burlington-area residents

In the wake of last week's flooding in the Burlington, Wisconsin, area, We Energies employees participated in two multi-agency resource center events this week to aid customers affected by the flooding. In addition, the We Energies Foundation made a $10,000 donation to the local American Red Cross chapter to aid in the agency's efforts to provide shelter and other goods and services to those displaced by the flooding.

Last week's flooding caused severe damage to a We Energies substation in Burlington that left numerous customers without power until mobile transformers could be brought in and energized. The substation was repaired earlier this week and returned to normal operation on July 18.

Burlington-area residents had the opportunity to seek information and assistance from Red Cross workers (in vests) and We Energies employees, such as Ron Bormann (far left), Robbin Bankhead and Phyllis Eckles of Customer Service and Operations, at two multi-agency resource center events held earlier this week to address issues residents may be facing in the wake of severe flooding in the region.

Resource centers were established at Burlington High School in Racine County on July 18 and at Riverview Elementary School in Kenosha County on July 19. At the events, employees addressed inquires about having service restored after work was completed, possible bill extensions due to additional expenses customers are facing and assistance in purchasing new appliances. Employees provided 211 information as an additional resource for social service needs and weatherization information for income-qualifying customers.

A We Energies Foundation donation to the local chapter of the American Red Cross contributed to the following goods and services, as reported by the agency: 
  • 2 shelters
  • 3 bulk distribution sites
  • 353 meals served
  • 1,415 snacks served
  • 1,611 cleanup kits distributed
  • 3,336 bulk items distributed (bleach, masks, heavy-duty brooms, etc.)
  • 162 volunteers and staff assisting on operation
  • 29 vehicles deployed, including 13 chapter-owned vehicles and 4 emergency response vehicles
  • 101 cases opened to provide one-on-one support to families
  • 261 people served through casework
  • 14 disaster health contacts
  • 137 disaster mental health contacts
A Red Cross representative thanked We Energies for the foundation gift and provided an update on their efforts:
"I want to thank all of you for the kind donation to support our disaster operation in southeast Wisconsin the past few days. It looks like it will continue this week. We should be able to close one shelter tomorrow and just leave one open. We have delivered thousands of clean up kits and items. Two semi-trailers are in our parking lot as a lot of supplies have arrived for the operation. This will continue this week and our casework will continue for many weeks." 

11 finalists unveiled in 811 contest

We asked for pictures of digging dogs, and you delivered. Our Safe Digging contest fetched dozens of entries. It was “ruff” narrowing down the list of finalists, but nearly a dozen dogs made the cut:

Now, “paws” to vote for your favorite. The winner will be featured in our Safe Digging campaign, including a grand unveiling at Energy Park at the Wisconsin State Fair.

The winner will help us spread an important safety message: Doggone it! Call 811 before you dig.

Finalists, don’t “fur-get” to tell family and friends to vote by 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 30. The winner will be announced the following day. Good luck and thank you to all who submitted photos.

Safe digging tips

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Burlington substation repairs completed ahead of schedule

We thank our customers in Burlington for their patience during repairs to our substation, and we’re happy to report the station is already back online. Fortunately, our repair work was seamless – we did not have to de-energize our system during repairs, and customers wouldn’t have noticed any changes in their service.

Crews were able to complete very complicated repairs to the substation, which was submerged in more than two feet of flood water last week, in just three days – much sooner than initially anticipated.

Before and after pictures of our substation in Burlington.

While substation repairs were being completed, Burlington customers had electricity served through mobile transformers. Though no longer necessary, the mobile units remain on site until the nearby Fox River recedes further. 

Getting the substation back on line was no small task. We had more than 50 employees dedicated to the effort. They had to replace damaged equipment and perform dozens of switching operations in our distribution network.

Unlike the light switches at your home, the switches at our substation are connected to multiple wires so we can reroute power when necessary. These redundancies are built into our system to minimize the impact of outages.

Crews had to perform more than 30 intricate switching operations to connect customers to the mobile transformers. After repairs, they had to perform all those operations again to reconnect customers to the substation. To minimize stress to our system during this delicate process, some of our larger industrial customers in the area agreed to curtail their electric use temporarily.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Burlington power restoration continues after flood

We continue to work toward a solution that should safely restore power to customers in Burlington and surrounding areas. According to the National Weather Service, multiple rounds of heavy rainfall resulted in flash flooding Wednesday in Walworth, Racine and Kenosha counties. Burlington experienced widespread flooding.

Floodwaters knocked out power from our electrical substation in Burlington. Initially, 25,000 customers lost power after our substation was knocked out. We re-routed power to get as many customers back in service as possible. We now are working to get power back to the remaining 4,000 customers who are without service.

On Thursday, we brought mobile transformers to the affected area to essentially replace the substation. Installation of these units is a complex process and changes the way power is delivered to customers. When the units are operational, we anticipate restoration to happen in stages. Our goal remains to get power back to all homes and businesses Friday afternoon.

The water has begun to recede from our substation, which takes electricity from high-voltage transmission wires to a lower voltage for customers. When flooded, the substation could not deliver electricity to the wires serving customers. The water in the substation damaged equipment that must be repaired or replaced. We are assessing the damage and working to clean up and repair the substation as quickly and safely as possible.

We continue to advise extreme caution in flooded basements. If your home is flooded, call 800-662-4797 to disconnect power and natural gas service. To be safe, always assume that basement flood water is energized. Walking through a wet or flooded basement can be dangerous. Never walk through a flooded basement until the electricity is disconnected. Even a small amount of water on a basement floor can put you at risk for electrocution. While electricity is needed to run the sump pumps and wet/dry vacuums that help remove water from a basement, the risk of electrical shock is high. Safety experts suggest using a generator to power your sump pump or wet/dry vacuum instead. Generators also come with safety concerns, so learn about generator safety before operating one, and never run extension cords through water.

Our website also has more information on outage safety.

Burlington substation flooded.
Crews are working around the clock in Burlington. 

Mobile transformer arrives in Burlington Thursday.

Tuesday, July 11, 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.

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

Cookie Book sneak peek

For our customers, the Cookie Book is a holiday tradition. For us, it’s a year-round effort! Monday was our photo shoot for the 2017 book, and we have some delicious images to share with you.

Food photographer Grace Natoli Sheldon arranges
cookies during Cookie Book photo shoot.
This year’s edition celebrates those who grow and produce products made right here in Wisconsin. From cranberries to honey to cherries – and even beer and cheese – many Wisconsin products are featured in the 31 recipes that make up this year’s book.

The complete distribution schedule will be available Aug. 3, but signature events already are set for Saturday, Nov. 4, at Miller Park in Milwaukee and Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton.

Since its inception nearly 90 years ago, the Cookie Book has remained a favorite of holiday bakers. Visit our recipe page for past books, videos and more.

We Energies recipes

Friday, July 7, 2017

Cookie Crumbs: Celebrate National Sugar Cookie Day July 9

We Energies Cookie Book recipes are perfect for celebrations of all kinds – including National Sugar Cookie Day, which happens to be July 9. Sugar cookies have been featured many times since we started producing Cookie Books back in 1928. Here are a couple of recipes – one from an early book book and one from last year.

Our 1932 book featured this recipe:

Our 2016 book featured this one:

Mother’s Sugar Cookies 
3 cups all-purpose flour 
2 teaspoons cream of tartar 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
3/4 teaspoon salt 
1 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces 
2 eggs 
1 cup granulated sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
Coarse or colored sugar, optional 

In mixing bowl, combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Add cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. In medium bowl, whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla; mix into flour mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On floured surface or cloth, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with 2-1/2-inch cookie cutters; place on ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with coarse or colored sugar, if desired. Bake at 375 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes. Cool on wire cooling racks. Makes about 3 dozen.

So, not much has changed concerning sugar cookies in more than 80 years of appearances in our cookie books. The ingredients are about the same – and how much people love them.

Need some baking inspiration? Our Cookie Book archive has recipes dating back to the 1930s. Check it out today. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Search begins for new canine safety ambassador

Does your dog dig holes in the yard? Instead of scolding Fido, grab a camera!

We’re looking for a new canine safety ambassador to star in our safe digging campaign. Your dog can help us spread an important safety message: Doggone it! Call Diggers Hotline (811) before you dig. 

Whether you’re planting a tree or installing a fence post, you could be putting yourself in danger if you strike an underground natural gas line or electrical cable. Now, your furry friend can help us raise awareness about safe digging.

If your pet makes the cut, his/her picture will be featured in We Energies promotional material – including a grand unveiling at Energy Park at the Wisconsin State Fair.

The ad featured here shows the winners of last year’s campaign, Darby and Boca. A similar ad will be developed with this year’s winner.

  • One photo of dog digging
  • One entry (photo) per person with your name and address, and dog’s name 
  • Must be We Energies customer
  • Must be available to attend unveiling at Wisconsin State Fair on Friday, Aug. 11 at noon with your dog (tickets will be provided)
  • Photo quality of at least 150 dpi – .jpg or .tiff format preferred
Submit photo entries by midnight July 16 to Photo will be used on our social media channels and may be used by media outlets as well.

We’ll narrow down the entries to a list of finalists for a public vote. The winner will be unveiled in a ceremony at Energy Park on Aug. 11 (8-11), a day to raise awareness about dialing 811 to have utility facilities marked before digging.

The winner will receive tickets to the Wisconsin State Fair, a prize basket of treats for their famous furry friend and bragging rights about their canine’s cameo at Energy Park.

Good luck!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Scout’s honor for lifetime of leadership

Executive Vice President Joan Shafer’s career at We Energies had a humble start. She did clerical work for the company straight out of high school.

“It was so boring, I decided not to return the following summer!” recalls Shafer. Eventually she did return, and perhaps that mundane first assignment served as motivation to achieve more.

Now, Shafer is being honored for her lifetime of leadership by the Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast. It is an organization she cares deeply about. Shafer was a Girl Scout herself and later became a troop leader for her daughters’ groups. She served on the organization’s board of directors for seven years, including four as its chair.

Joan Shafer, center, accepts her award.
Shafer’s career at We Energies has followed a similar trajectory. Shafer rose through the management ranks in human resources, operations and customer service before being promoted to her current role as executive vice president – human resources and organizational effectiveness of WEC Energy Group. She credits her Girl Scout experience with helping her develop the skills she uses today.

“Girl Scouts has been instrumental in my leadership and in my daughters’ lives,” Shafer said. “It taught me how to work in a group, know myself and my strengths, connect with others, and play a role in their development through empathy, compassion and empowerment.”

On June 29, Shafer was presented with a 2017 Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast Leadership Award. She and other award recipients were honored at an event commemorating 100 years of Girl Scouting in southeastern Wisconsin.

In the community, Shafer also is an advocate for education as a trustee for Mount Mary University and a member of the Alverno College School of Business advisory board. She is the vice chair of Partners Advancing Values in Education (PAVE) and the secretary of Seton Catholic Schools. She was previously presented with an Athena Award for outstanding leadership, and in in 2012, she was named an Outstanding Volunteer of the Year by the United Way of Waukesha County.

Shafer’s advice to Girl Scouts looking to be leaders in their communities: “The first rule is to show up and try it, put yourself in that environment, and dismiss the phrase ‘I can’t do that.’”

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Cookie Crumbs: Celebrate Summerfest with smiley-face 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.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Summerfest. Conceived by then-mayor Henry W. Maier and inspired by his visit to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, Summerfest has come a long way over the past five decades.

The same year that Bob Hope and Dolly Parton were headliners (1969), the We Energies Cookie Book included a recipe that featured smiley-face cookies, although they were called Funny Face Cookies. They are sure to put a smile on your face as you celebrate the first day of Summerfest.

Funny Face Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces sweet cooking chocolate, melted

Cream butter; beat in sugar, egg and extracts. Blend in sifted dry ingredients. Divide dough in half. Mix chocolate into half of dough. Chill. Roll each dough section 1/8 inch thick on floured surface. Cut with 2-inch round cutter.

Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Cut eyes and mouth out of each cookie. Replace with eyes and mouth cut out of contrasting cookie dough. Chill if dough becomes too soft. Bake at 350 degrees about 7 minutes. Makes about 7 dozen.

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

We Energies recipes

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.   


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
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.

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.”