Friday, December 20, 2019

MPS students announce they are ‘taking their talents’ to We Energies

We Energies is proud to announce the recruiting class of 2021. Eleven Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) students committed to our innovative line mechanic internship program.

In a special ceremony, the teenagers signed their paperwork, tried on their new We Energies gear and committed to the program in front of their biggest fans — family, friends and teachers.



As part of the program, the students will spend two years getting hands-on experience working with the tools and equipment that our line mechanics use on a daily basis. In addition to earning a paycheck, the students are paired with a We Energies employee who acts as a life mentor. Students who successfully finish the program may have the opportunity to join We Energies full-time.

The line mechanic internship is one of three unique internship and apprenticeship programs offered by We Energies and MPS. Each is designed to help students explore careers in energy, and help We Energies attract and retain skilled and diverse employees.

Monday, December 9, 2019

12 tips to keep your house safe and your costs down this holiday season

We’ve made a list and we’ve checked it twice. Here are 12 helpful tips to make sure your holidays are safe and your energy bill won’t turn you into a Grinch.


Tip 1: Keep your baking spirits bright. Don’t open the oven door to peek at your holiday goodies. Opening the door can drop the temperature 25 degrees, adding to cooking time and energy use.

Tip 2: It’s a beaut, Clark! Switch to LED lights. They last longer and use less energy compared to incandescent lights. Just make sure you don’t overload your outlets.

Tip 3: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow — but please remove snow from gas meters. The extra weight can stress or crack meter piping, causing a natural gas leak.

Tip 4: Make it the hap-hap-happiest season of all by saving money when you lower your thermostat by 7 to 10 degrees when you are asleep or away. This can save as much as 10% a year on heating costs.

Tip 5: It’s a clinker! Don’t let that blasted furnace leave your holiday story bitter. Clean or replace air filters in your heating system to increase airflow and reduce the equipment’s energy use.

Tip 6: Baby, it's cold outside. Use a space heater safely by keeping wrapped gifts, tissue paper and draperies at least six feet away to reduce a fire risk.

Tip 7: When making the figgy pudding, match the pot or pan size with a similar-sized burner. It not only takes less time to heat but also uses heat more efficiently.

Tip 8
: Consider asking Santa for a carbon monoxide detector if you don’t already have one. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas and can be fatal.

Tip 9: Turn the oven off a few minutes early when roasting chestnuts. As long as the oven door remains closed, enough heat will be stored inside to finish cooking your meal for the last few minutes.

Tip 10: It’s the most wonderful time of the year … to lower your water heater to 120 degrees. It’s an easy way to rack up big savings.

Tip 11: As you deck the halls for the holidays, use weatherstripping and caulk to seal gaps around windows, doors and siding, which will improve your energy efficiency and leave you feeling warm and jolly.

Tip 12: We don’t want a “Blue Christmas,” just a blue flame on your natural gas range. That blue flame means your stovetop is working properly.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Fill up your guests, not your energy bill this holiday season

Cooking a holiday meal can be stressful, not only on the chef, but also on their energy bill. Use these tips to help cook efficiently and save money during the holidays.
Preparation 
  • Match pots and pans to burners. Using a small pot or pan on a bigger burner wastes heat. Matching the pot or pan size with a similar-sized burner not only takes less time to heat but also uses heat more efficiently.
  • Use sturdy cookware. Cookware with warped bottoms can use up to 50% more energy to fully heat.
  • Thaw and chop. Reduce your cooking time and energy use by completely thawing your food before cooking and chopping vegetables into smaller pieces that cook faster.
  • Cook your food, not your house. Time your food preparation so it’s complete when your oven finishes preheating. Heating the oven for longer than needed wastes heat and money. 


Cooking
  • Keep oven door shut. Rather than opening the door, use the oven light. Opening the door can drop the temperature 25 degrees, adding cooking time and energy use.
  • Use small appliances. Crockpots or toaster ovens use energy more efficiently than conventional ovens for smaller dishes or meals.
  • Cool down. Allow leftovers to cool before refrigerating them to reduce the appliance’s work.
  • Unplug. Most small appliances, such as toaster ovens and coffee makers, consume a small amount of energy, even if they’re turned off. When possible, unplug.
Cleanup 
  • Oven and microwave. Food spills and food waste absorb heat, adding to cooking time, so keep the inside clean.
  • Dishwashers. Fully load your dishwasher, because it uses the same amount of energy whether full or not. Avoid rinsing dishes before loading. Most dishwashers can handle crusted food.
  • Washing machines. You’ll clean up the spilled gravy efficiently when you use settings based on laundry load size. Bonus washing tip: Most detergents work well in cold water.
More energy efficiency tips

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Large-scale solar project now powering up customers

For the first time in history, our customers are powering their homes with energy from a local, large-scale solar project. The first panels from the innovative Solar Now project were put into service earlier this month; the energy they are producing is being fed into our energy grid to serve all customers.


The nearly 2,000 solar panels that were put into service are hosted on the roof of New Berlin Eisenhower Middle/High School. 

We Energies and the School District of New Berlin (SDNB) partnered on the project that will produce more than 2 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable energy for all customers. The panels at Eisenhower are the first to produce energy; solar panels at the other SDNB locations are under construction and are expected to be placed into service by the end of the year.

“Solar Now is an important part of our effort to continue to create a cleaner energy future that is safe, reliable and affordable,” said Kevin Fletcher — president and CEO of WEC Energy Group, parent company of We Energies. “This milestone is the first of many to come as we bring more Solar Now and other solar projects online in the coming months and years.”

“I applaud We Energies for this innovative program and community partnership. I’m proud my district will be home to the first panels and look forward to seeing Solar Now shine in other communities across the state,” said Representative Mike Kuglitsch, chair of the Committee on Energy and Utilities.


While the SDNB project is the first to power up, numerous other Solar Now projects are in the works, including partnerships with the City of Racine, University of Wisconsin Parkside, and Washington County. By the end of 2019, We Energies expects to have more than 5 MW of solar power feeding into the energy grid, enough to power more than 1,000 homes. Once complete the Solar Now program will create 35 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable energy that will benefit all of our customers.

Solar Now is a pilot program approved by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. We hired SunVest, a Wisconsin-based company, to be the general contractor for these projects.

Solar Now is part of the We Energies and WEC Energy Group plan to create a cleaner energy future. Working with industry partners, environmental groups and state leaders, WEC Energy Group has set a goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 40% below 2005 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Nine years in a row — We Energies again named most reliable utility in the Midwest

For the ninth straight year, we have been named the most reliable utility in the Midwest for keeping the lights on, phones charged and homes warm.

The ReliabilityOne™ Award from PA Consulting is given to utilities that have excelled in delivering the most reliable electric service to their customers. We were honored for Outstanding Reliability Performance in the Midwest.

Through targeted infrastructure investments, dedicated employees and innovative projects like drone surveillance of power lines, we work hard every day to make sure customers have the energy they need, when they need it.


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Safe start: Hunters reminded to inspect cabin heating systems prior to gun deer opener

As one of Wisconsin’s signature traditions returns, we urge deer hunters to thoroughly inspect their cabin’s heating system before heading out into the woods.

Inspecting a hunting cabin’s heating system can help avoid a dangerous or even fatal buildup of carbon monoxide. This invisible, odorless gas is created by improper venting or burning of fuel.

Carbon monoxide warning signs 
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • A sudden flu-like illness
  • Dizziness, headaches or sleepiness
  • Cherry-red lips and an unusually pale complexion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • A fluttering heartbeat
  • Unconsciousness



Safety tips

To prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide, hunters should install carbon monoxide detectors inside their cabins, or check existing detectors to ensure they are working properly. Heating vents should be checked and cleared of any animal nests or debris.

Additionally, hunters who use a portable electric generator should always operate it outdoors to prevent carbon monoxide from accumulating indoors.

We also caution hunters to be aware of power lines and electric distribution equipment near hunting grounds.

Friday, November 15, 2019

From the classroom to the job site, real-life opportunities for MPS students

We are proud to partner with Milwaukee Public Schools to offer high school students on-the-job work experience as part of an innovative internship program.

WITI-TV spent the day with students who were exploring the program to see if a career with us might be right for them.



This innovative internship program has received statewide recognition.

Monday, November 11, 2019

‘Even if you did not serve together, you’re family’ Military members, veterans are integral part of employee population

From our early years through today, we have built a tradition of honoring those who serve our country.

In our downtown Milwaukee Public Service Building, for example, the plaque dedicated to the 662 employees of company predecessor Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Co. who served in World War I is still prominently displayed. More than a century later, we have supported Stars and Stripes Honor Flight and Fisher House Wisconsin through our We Energies Foundation.

The memorial tablet dedicated to the 662
Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Co.
employees who served in World War I.
 
One reason the legacy of honoring America’s service members endures is the number of veterans and military reservists among our employee population. Our hiring efforts target the veteran market to recruit those with specialized skills for careers in power generation and distribution, along with other areas vital to the company — but the energy industry in general seem to naturally attract those with military backgrounds as well.

Christy Schultz, computer systems specialist — IT Services, is one of those employees. She joined the company in 1998 (on the Monday after Independence Day, coincidentally) after serving four years in the U.S. Army and graduating from Waukesha County Technical College on the GI Bill.

“I started on the help desk, thinking this was a good way to break into the IT field after graduating and that I would be here three to five years,” Schultz recalls. “Here I am, 21 years later. Over the years, my job has morphed from the help desk, desktop support, telecom and a number of projects in between.”

Today, as a computer systems specialist, Schultz works in telecom, supporting, installing and troubleshooting the phone systems throughout the company.

“There are a number of veterans working in telecom, three alone on my immediate team,” she says. “The military community is an interesting one — a large family with plenty of squabbles and a whole lot of camaraderie. When you run into a veteran at work, it’s almost like running into an extended family member. You have that ‘thing’ in common. Even if you did not serve together, you’re family.” 


Doing something different

Schultz joined that family when she enlisted at age 16. High school graduation was looming, and she was trying to decide what to do.

“I knew I wanted to do something different, something no one else was going to do,” she explains.

A video of people jumping from airplanes piqued her interest. Although her recruiter explained there were not a lot of job opportunities for women in the Army’s airborne operations, Schultz persisted and became a parachute rigger.

She left in June 1990 for basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, followed by jump school at Fort Benning, Georgia.

“The initial shock of basic training can be intimidating and overwhelming. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I made the right decision. But I went in with the mindset that basic training would be intense, like the movie ‘Full Metal Jacket.’ Basic training wasn’t that extreme, but jump school, now that was intense,” she describes, adding that she was there with members of the Army Infantry, Army Rangers, Special Forces, Marine Recon, Navy SEALs and Delta Force.

“All men, and 17-year-old me,” Schultz says. She turned 18 while she was there.

After jump school, she went to Fort Lee, Virginia, to train as a parachute rigger, and then was deployed to the border of Saudi Arabia and Iraq for the Gulf War. “Desert Storm was our graduation present,” jokes Schultz, who was sent in support of the 18th Airborne Corps.

She returned to the U.S. after three months and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, packing personnel and cargo parachutes, rigging heavy drop equipment, and issuing parachutes for airborne operations. During her time in the 82nd, she married and had a son. When her four-year term was up, she opted to return to Wisconsin rather than re-enlist. The deployment window required with her unit was a driving factor. 

Schultz with two members of her unit, gearing up for a 12-mile road march. 
“We would get a call and have to be on base, checked in, within an hour of that call. Sometimes we could be gone for hours; other times for days if not weeks,” she said. “Doing that while single or married is one thing, but with a child it’s different.”

Skills that led to a career

While her degree as a microcomputer specialist and the opportunity for a stable job led her to the We Energies IT department 21 years ago, the experience gleaned from the military has affected Schultz’s role within the company.

“Many traits that you pick up in the military come into play here at work. Teamwork, efficiency and reliability are a few that come to mind. We work together more effectively if we can rely on each other and have a plan,” she says.

Those traits are reasons Schultz — a member of Tanner Paull American Legion Post 120 and of the company’s Military Service Members Association business resource group — sees We Energies focusing on veteran recruitment. “I think it’s great that We Energies encourages veterans to apply. Veterans tend to have a strong work ethic and sense of duty.”

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

A family holiday tradition like no other, the 2019 We Energies Cookie Book is here

Forget the store decoration displays, peppermint mochas or ugly sweaters. The true start to the holiday season is the arrival of the We Energies Cookie Book. This year’s cookie book, which highlights grandma and her amazing recipes, is available starting Nov. 5.

Nearly 500 recipes from grandmas were submitted, whittled down, baked and tasted. This year’s book features 38 tried-and-true, grandma-approved recipes.

One of those recipes comes from Leslie Wesner of Oak Creek. She wanted to pay tribute to her late mother by sharing her favorite recipe, Grandma Sharon’s Ranger Cookies.

“This was my mother’s favorite recipe, which she would make for the grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She loved the Cookie Books, and I thought sharing this recipe would be a great tribute to her,” said Wesner. 


Check out this year's book at we-energies.com.

Our website also has more information about our distribution events, including our Nov. 9 signature events at Miller Park in Milwaukee and Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton.

“It’s our great pleasure to share this year’s Cookie Book with you and continue the tradition that spans generations – bringing us all just a little closer together at the holidays,” said Tom Metcalfe, president – We Energies.

This is the 91st anniversary of the first We Energies Cookie Book. The first Cookie Book was published in 1928 to promote the use of electric appliances for baking. There have been more than 50 editions of the Cookie Book throughout the years.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

We Energies teams up with law enforcement to stop scams

No more! That’s it! We don’t want anyone else to fall victim to a utility scam— so we’re partnering with police to share an important message: Stop scams now.

On Wednesday, Oct. 23, law enforcement and others across Wisconsin are being asked to share a simple but important message on social media about the dangers of utility scams.




Over the years, our customers have lost tens of thousands of dollars to con artists. We want to make sure everyone knows the warning signs so no one else falls victim.

If you think a scammer is targeting you, hang up and call us right away at 800-242-9137. If you experience a loss through any scam, report the crime to local law enforcement.

Impersonating a utility worker in Wisconsin is a felony punishable with a maximum fine of $10,000 and/or a prison term of 3 1/2 years.

Phone scam warning signs

A criminal may:
  • Pretend to be from We Energies. They may even manipulate caller ID to display We Energies or use a recorded message that appears to be from the company.
  • Threaten to turn off your energy right away.
  • Demand immediate payment — often by prepaid debit card or unusual payment method like Bitcoin. We will never do that.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Lower heating bills expected this winter for our customers

As the temperatures drop and furnaces kick on across Wisconsin this weekend, our customers are hearing some good news: Their heating bills are expected to be lower this winter. Our winter heating forecast shows the average customer will pay nearly 11% less this winter than last year.

Our winter heating forecast is based on a 20-year average of winter weather and assumes the price of natural gas remains where it is today on the spot market. If both of those factors hold true, we expect the average customer will save $58 this winter compared to last year.

Energy savings

This first blast of cold air is also a good reminder than you can take steps to save even more on your energy bill.

  • Turn your thermostat back 7-10 degrees when you’re asleep or away.
  • Seal gaps around windows, doors and siding to keep warm air in. 
  • Schedule a furnace tune-up for safety and efficiency, saving money in the long run.

Budget Billing

If you want to manage your energy costs by spreading out charges more evenly over 12 months, you may want to consider our Budget Billing program.

Energy assistance

Also, qualified customers can apply for energy assistance for the upcoming heating season. The Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program provides qualified residents with a one-time grant to help pay energy bills. More than 200,000 Wisconsin families receive assistance each year.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Need help paying your energy bill? Energy assistance now available

We want to make sure all customers are able to pay their bills and stay warm this winter. Starting Oct.1, our customers can apply for energy assistance for the upcoming heating season.

The Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) provides qualified residents with a one-time grant to help pay energy bills. More than 200,000 Wisconsin families receive assistance each year.



To see if you are eligible and to apply for energy assistance, visit the WHEAP website at homeenergyplus.wi.gov or call 866-432-8947. Milwaukee County residents should visit keepwarmmke.org or call 414-270-4653.

The amount of energy assistance you may receive depends on a number of factors, including household size, income and energy costs. You do not have to be behind on your bill to qualify. If you have eligibility questions, call WHEAP at 866-432-8947.

If you have questions about your energy bill or payment options, visit our payment assistance page.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Heroes among us — our crews save men trapped by trees after recent storms

We Energies employee Mike Mathu was working in Royalton, a small town in Waupaca County, in late July when he heard a cry for help. A man nearby was partially trapped under a tree.

“The tree seemed to be thousands of pounds and couldn’t be lifted off,” said Mathu.

Mathu and his colleagues, Bob Suttner, Keith Reinert and Jeremy Peterson, were restoring power after tornados and high winds ripped down power poles and knocked trees and branches into homes and power lines. When the men heard someone was in trouble, they grabbed their chainsaws and rushed to help.

“What seemed like forever was probably only five minutes,” Mathu remembered.



Through teamwork, the crew cut the tree and lifted it off the trapped man.

When asked why they jumped into action, the men downplayed their heroics, saying that they did what anyone would do in that situation.

‘I knew he was in trouble’

Brian Hunter, an employee for the company, ran across a similar scene while he was working on a dead-end road in Pearson, a small town in Langlade County. Like the crew in the Fox Valley, Hunter was helping to restore power after the July storm when he switched from utility worker to life saver.

As Hunter worked on damaged equipment, he saw a man get pinned by a tree while using a tractor to remove it.

“I knew he was in trouble,” said Hunter.

He was indeed in trouble; the tree was across the man’s throat. Hunter jumped on the tractor and put it in reverse, hoping to relieve pressure on the man’s neck. He then grabbed his saw and cut the tree off the tractor, eventually freeing the man.

Hunter said the man thanked him for saving his life.

“I’m not sure what would have happened if I wasn’t nearby. I was just glad I could help him,” Hunter said.



Crews help across Wisconsin

Nearly 1,000 workers from We Energies, Wisconsin Public Service and utility crews around the Midwest teamed up to rebuild circuits and remove debris from equipment that was destroyed by hurricane-force winds and intense lightning after the July storms. They replaced or repaired over 700 utility poles, nearly 500 transformers and 80 miles of wire.

This small army worked together throughout Wisconsin’s most devastated areas to restore power to over 270,000 We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service customers.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Huge solar energy project planned

Along with Madison Gas and Electric (MGE), we have announced a new partnership to acquire the remaining 150 megawatts (MW) of the Badger Hollow Solar Farm. We filed a joint application today with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. We will own 100 MW, and MGE will own 50 MW.

This is our first single site solar project in company history, it joins the growing list of renewable projects the company is pursuing as it looks to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by approximately 80% by 2050.

According to experts, the 100 MW generated on site is enough electricity to power more than 20,000 homes.



“This is another significant step in our transition to a clean energy future,” said Kevin Fletcher, president and CEO – WEC Energy Group, the parent corporation of We Energies. “Along with the environmental benefits of solar energy, this purchase will lower costs to customers over the life of the project.”

“This addition of cost-effective solar energy will help MGE reach our goal of net-zero carbon electricity by the year 2050 while also helping us to manage long-term costs to our customers,” said Jeff Keebler, MGE chairman, president and CEO. “This is yet another step in our active transition toward greater use of cleaner energy sources to serve our community.”

If regulators approve this acquisition, this phase of the Badger Hollow Solar Farm would begin generating electricity in 2021.

Badger Hollow Solar Farm
Badger Hollow is a 300 MW solar project located in southwestern Wisconsin, in Iowa County. The project is being developed by Chicago-based Invenergy, North America's largest privately held renewable energy company.

In May, MGE and Wisconsin Public Service (WPS), a subsidiary of WEC Energy Group, received regulatory approval to own a combined total of 150 MW at Badger Hollow. MGE will own 50 MW, and WPS will own 100 MW of this first phase of the project. Commercial operation of this phase is expected by the end of 2020.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Chubbs named new safe digging ambassadog

Chubbs, a 5-month-old pug from Milwaukee, is our new ambassadog! His owners say he’s always on the move and loves getting into trouble. Now he’ll help keep our customers out of trouble by starring in a new ad to promote safe digging:


Chubbs’ ad will be on display at Energy Park at the Wisconsin State Fair. Stop by to see it and get your picture taken!

He’ll also be featured on digital billboards in the Milwaukee area on 811 day – Sunday, Aug. 11. 811 is the number to call at least three days before you dig. A utility locating service will come out to mark the locations of underground utilities on your property for free.



Whether you’re planting a tree, installing fence posts or digging for other reasons, you could be putting yourself in danger if you strike an underground natural gas or electric line. So listen to Chubbs and doggone it, call 811 before you dig!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Portable electric generator safety tips

Reliable electric service is a priority for everyone. However, power outages may occur for various reasons, such as weather, equipment failures, car-pole accidents, etc. Portable generators provide significant benefits when used properly. 


Here are some safety tips for installing and operating portable electric generators:
  •  The portable electric generator should be the correct size, with a slightly larger output than the power level needed to operate all the equipment that is connected to it. The generator and connected equipment can be damaged if an inappropriately sized generator is used.
  •  Do not connect a portable generator directly to a building’s wiring or plug the generator into an electrical outlet. This will cause a “backfeed” condition where the power from the generator will flow through the building’s wiring and onto the utility distribution system. This is extremely dangerous to utility line mechanics when repairing downed power lines, as they will be unaware of any “live” wires. In addition, when power is restored, it can feed directly into the portable generator, causing severe damage to the generator and any appliances plugged into it. In order to prevent backfeed or equipment damage when power is restored, have a licensed electrician install a transfer switch to isolate the building wiring from the utility distribution system.
  • Use properly sized and rated power cords to connect equipment to the portable generator. Use heavy duty, outdoor-rated, grounded extension cords that are in good operating condition.
  • Never operate a generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed area. The generator uses an internal combustion engine and emits potentially deadly carbon monoxide. Make sure the generator is vented properly in a well ventilated outdoor area.
  •  Never refuel an operating or hot generator. Gasoline spilled on a hot engine could ignite. Always have a fully charged, approved fire extinguisher near the generator. 
  • Keep children away from portable generators at all times.
  • Portable generators are a great convenience but, like any piece of equipment, present many safety hazards. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions completely to ensure your generator is maintained and operated in a safe and proper manner.
For more information about generator safety, visit our website

Monday, July 22, 2019

Line crews working around the clock to restore power

We are continuing to recover from some of the most powerful storms to hit central and eastern Wisconsin in the past 20 years. Winds above 80 miles an hour caused extensive damage to our networks in the Fox Valley.

Thanks to the hard work of the field and support personnel, we have restored power to more than 95,000 customers.

We have a small army of field personnel working on restoration. Additional crews are arriving today. We expect to have almost all customers in the Appleton and Waupaca areas back in service by late Tuesday.



We thank our customers for their patience and our crews appreciate the prayers for their safety that have also been conveyed in calls and social media messages.

We remind people who come across downed power lines and damaged utility equipment to call 800‑662‑4797 immediately.






Friday, July 19, 2019

Doggone It! Cast your vote for our next safe digging ambassador

Voting is underway to select the next star of our safe digging campaign. The winner will help us promote an important safety message: Doggone It! Call 811 at least three days before you dig.

Ten finalists have been selected from dozens of photos sent in by We Energies customers. Now you can vote for your “top dog” through July 25.

Tyson is a 4-year-old Westie Highland terrier from Franklin. His owners say it’s hard to get mad at such a sweet face, even if he’s digging where he shouldn’t.

Sully is a Great Pyrenees from Campbellsport. His owner says digging is his passion.

Kaiser is from St. Francis. His owner calls him pure perfection.

Theo, a 2-year-old German shorthaired pointer from Wauwatosa, loves anything and everything outdoors.

Holly, a 13-year-old greyhound from Waukesha, loves digging so much, her owners gave her a designated digging spot.

Zeus, a 1-year-old boxer from Sussex, enjoys running laps around the yard and digging.

Simba is 2 years old and lives in Kenosha. His owner says he is very proud of the holes he digs and a great help in the garden.

Chubbs, a 5-month-old pug from Milwaukee, loves getting into trouble and is always on the move.

Bea is a 3-year-old beagle from Hartford. Her owners say she loves to dig.

Gunnar, from Grand Chute, is happiest spending time with his family and loves camping.

The winning dog will be featured in a safe digging billboard blitz Sunday, Aug. 11 – 811 Day. His or her owners will also receive tickets to the Wisconsin State Fair where they can see their dog’s face on display at Energy Park, a special section of State Fair where you can learn more about We Energies and enjoy some free family fun. 

About 811
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. Call 811 at least three days before you dig to have the location of buried utility lines marked – and to keep you and your family safe.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Stay cool with these money-saving tips

To help you stay on the sunny side of life, we have some tips to help you save money on your summer energy bill.



No cost

Keep the sun out. Close blinds, shades and drapes on the sunny side of your home during the day to keep the house cooler.

Adjust your thermostat. When at home, set it a few degrees higher to save energy. When you are away, adjust your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees higher than your normal setting for at least 8 hours a day. This can help you save 10% on your energy bill.

Manage your energy costs with Budget Billing. Budget Billing spreads your annual charges more evenly over 12 months. 

Turn down the heat by delaying heat-producing activities such as cooking, drying and ironing until evenings or when the weather cools.

Leave thermostat’s fan switch on “auto” so the fan only runs when the furnace runs. Setting the fan to “on” causes it to run all the time.

Low cost

Seal cracks and gaps around windows, doors and siding with caulk and weather stripping. This keeps cool air in and hot air out.

Use standing fans, even if you have air conditioning. Circulating cool air makes it feel cooler.

Install a programmable thermostat for your comfort and convenience. It can adjust the air conditioning for times you typically are away and times you typically are home. You also can program it to reduce cooling when you go to sleep and turn it back up before you wake up in the morning.

Schedule regular tune-ups for your air conditioner. Seasonal maintenance keeps equipment running safely and efficiently, and saves money in the long run.


Monday, July 15, 2019

We Energies and RENEW Wisconsin reach settlement on solar energy issue


We Energies and RENEW Wisconsin are pleased to announce a settlement agreement with two important provisions regarding solar energy and customer-owned generation.

With the agreement, We Energies will no longer pursue a solar fixed-cost recovery charge as part of its rate review with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, and RENEW Wisconsin agrees to support an upcoming We Energies utility-scale solar project.

The two parties also agree to collaborate in a series of good-faith discussions for at least the next two years with the goal of finding potential areas of agreement on renewable energy and distributed generation as We Energies continues the transition to a clean energy future.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Doggone It! Does your dog have what it takes to be our new safety ambassador?

We’re looking for an adorable ambassaDOG to star in this year’s safe digging campaign. Your dog can help us spread an important safety message: Doggone it! Call 811 three days before you dig.

Here’s what you need to do: 
1. Take a picture of your dog digging.
2. Click here to submit one photo before July 19.


Note: 
You must be a We Energies customer to participate.
No blurry pictures, please. Send us a high-quality image of your pooch!

Once we narrow it down to the finalists, you’ll be able to vote for your favorite dog July 19 through 25. The winning dog will be featured in an ad unveiled at We Energies’ Energy Park at the Wisconsin State Fair; the proud owners will win tickets to see it.

About 811
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. Call 811 at least three days before you dig to have the location of buried utility lines marked – and to keep you and your family safe.

If you have questions about the contest, email us at contest@we-energies.com. Good luck!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Hawk released back to its home after tangle with power line

It’s safe to say this was not the usual call for help We Energies troubleshooter Rick Guetzke gets.

“It was flopping around a little bit, and I asked the wildlife rehabilitation person what I should do,” Guetzke said.

Guetzke was called to a county road in the town of Jackson in Washington County to help a red-tailed hawk that was stuck in a power line 35 feet off the ground. Guetzke de-energized the line and, with advice from Wanakia Wildlife’s rehabilitation expert Marty Thompson, freed the bird’s stuck talon.



“He was able to throw a blanket over the bird and get her down, and once he got her down I pretty much whisked her away,” Thompson said.

After its rescue, Dr. Molly Lien of Brook-Falls Veterinary Hospital worked with Thompson to assess the bird’s condition.

“In the case of this red-tailed hawk, she had pretty significant wounds on one of her legs, so we had to do a few surgeries to close those wounds and get them to heal properly,” Lien said.



The hawk spent her time at Wanakia Wildlife as her injuries healed.

After eight weeks of recovery, the hawk was ready to leave. Those who were involved in the rescue and rehabilitation process gathered June 27 at the spot where the bird was found and watched her fly away.

Guetzke, Thompson and Lien 
“It felt really like I did something special, that the hawk was able to go back and enjoy the life it should,” Guetzke said.

“They’re heroes,” said Thompson of Guetzke, Lien and the sheriff who responded to the call and stayed there until the hawk was brought down from the power line. “It took everybody to all work together for the cause of one bird to get her back out. It is just amazing.” 


More information:
Video
News coverage


Friday, July 5, 2019

New program proposed for electric vehicle charging

We are looking to make it easier and less expensive for electric vehicle (EV) owners to power up by offering rebates of up to $1,000 to residential customers who install EV chargers at their homes.


The proposed EV pilot program is part of our rate filing with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. On top of the rebate, the program will also let EV owners take advantage of time-of-use rates for charging their vehicles at home. Time-of-use rates mean customers can charge their vehicles overnight at a lower rate, when there is less demand. The remainder of customer electric usage will still be billed at the traditional residential rate.

EVs are a small but rapidly growing transportation option. A recent report finds that the number of EVs on U.S. roads is projected to reach more than 18 million in 2030.

“This pilot program lets us study the impact electric vehicles will have on our power system,” said Tom Metcalfe – president of We Energies. “As more EVs are bought and charged, this will help us better understand the impact on power generation and distribution.”


The EV pilot program is another way we are promoting environmental stewardship. From restoring natural habitats and helping endangered animals to building new solar facilities and reducing carbon emissions, we are committed to a cleaner future.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Family celebrates exactly 100 years working at We Energies

A lot has changed at our company since the day in 1960 when Glen Lokken started his job as a cadet engineer. Technology has improved, clothing and hairstyles have come in and out of style; even the company’s name changed from Wisconsin Electric to We Energies. But over that time, one thing has remained constant at the company the presence of Glen or one of his children.

On June 18, 2019, the Lokken family celebrated exactly 100 years of total service at We Energies. Not approximately 100 years, not close to 100 years, but exactly 100 years. How do they know it’s exactly 100 years? They can thank Glen’s son David for that. David, a current We Energies employee, has been tracking his family’s work time; he even took into account the extra day in leap years.



Glen worked for 33 years before retiring in 1993. David started in 1982, and his sister Maura Royston started in 1989. They are both still working.

 “I call it the Lokken centennial. 100 years working at We Energies,” David said.

“It’s certainly not something you find much anymore,” Maura said. “We Energies has been good to us. I think we’ve been good to them, and it just was a fit, and for me personally, I got to do so many different things all at the same place. I didn’t have to go somewhere else.”

Glen still lives in the area and came out of retirement for one day. He joined his daughter and son for a special lunch to mark the 100-year milestone.

“It’s quite an accomplishment,” Glen said. “I didn’t expect it to ever happen.”

“All my success in life has stemmed from my dad having a great job and getting me a good start,” said David.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Innovative solar energy program unveiled


We are turning sunshine into solar power on numerous School District of New Berlin (SDNB) buildings and vacant land. This partnership with SDNB is the first project as part of our innovative Solar Now program. Construction kicked off this week in New Berlin, with other solar projects set to begin in the coming months.

The Solar Now program will create 35 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable energy that will benefit all of our customers.

“The Solar Now program is an important part of our generation reshaping for a clean energy future,” said Kevin Fletcher — president and CEO of WEC Energy Group, our parent corporation. “We are committed to cutting greenhouse gases and investing in cost-effective, zero-carbon, renewable generation.”



Fletcher formally unveiled the program at New Berlin Eisenhower Middle/High School. He  was joined by Representative Mike Kuglitsch (R – New Berlin), Senator David Craig (R – Big Bend), Superintendent Joe Garza of the School District of New Berlin and Matt Neumann Founder/CEO of SunVest, the Wisconsin-based company we contracted to construct Solar Now.

Nearly 8,000 solar panels are going up this summer at New Berlin Eisenhower Middle/High School, New Berlin West Middle/High School and Ronald Reagan Elementary. The panels will generate more than 2 MW of clean, renewable energy and provide a unique educational opportunity for students.


“We are proud to be the first participant in this innovative renewable energy program,” said Superintendent Garza. “Along with playing a role in the advancement of renewable energy, our students will have the unique opportunity to gain ‘real life’ knowledge about the production of solar energy for years to come.”

Through the Solar Now program, we will pay commercial, industrial, government and nonprofit customers like the School District of New Berlin to host solar panels on their roofs and property.

While the program is aimed at large commercial and government host customers, all of our customers will benefit. The solar energy that is produced will help reduce fuel costs to all customers while also maintaining fuel diversity and reducing carbon emissions.

“I applaud We Energies for this innovative program and community partnership. I’m proud my district will be home to the first panels and look forward to seeing Solar Now shine in other communities across the state,” said Rep. Kuglitsch.

Solar Now is a pilot program approved by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. Despite only being a few months old, the program is already extremely popular. We have received interest from customers from across the state.

Outside of the benefits for customers, the Solar Now pilot will provide us with valuable insight into operating distributed solar generation; experience that can be used in the future on other projects.

Solar Now is part of a We Energies and WEC Energy Group plan to create a clean energy future. Working with industry partners, environmental groups and state leaders, WEC Energy Group has set a goal to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions 80% by 2050.



Thursday, June 6, 2019

Peregrine falcon class of 2019

They grow up so fast! This year’s falcon chicks have ventured off into the world. But wherever they end up, they’ll take some Wisconsin pride along with them. Here’s a look at the newly-named class of 2019.

Oak Creek Power Plant
We Energies customers had the difficult task of choosing their favorite nicknames in honor of 10 past and current Bucks players. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Ray Allen came out on top for this high-flying honor — making the chicks The Beak Freak, Sky Hook and Ray Ray.



Valley Power Plant
At the power plant closest to Miller Park, our customers helped narrow down a field of 10 Brewers legends to the top two: Christian Yelich and Robin Yount. The two male chicks are named Yeli and Rockin' Robin.



Port Washington Generating Station
At Port Washington, we called in some help for the names. Steve Jagow, a longtime employee and friend of the peregrine restoration program, is retiring this year. He named one of the chicks Smokey in honor of his 94-year-old father, a World War II veteran. Lyno is named after Dan Lyons’ brother, who died of cancer. Lyons won the opportunity to name a falcon chick at a fundraiser for the Riveredge Nature Center. Portview Peep was named by a group of kids who attend Portview Church.



Weston Power Plant
The falcon chicks at Weston Power Plant were named by first-grade students from Marathon Area Elementary School. Each student who submitted a winning entry got a special certificate and a picture with the chick they helped to name. Weston is owned by our partner utility, Wisconsin Public Service.


This year’s class brings the total number of peregrines hatched, named and banded at We Energies power plants to 281.

Friday, May 31, 2019

‘Somber, emotional and humbling’ - We Energies employees volunteer for Honor Flight

The May 11 Stars and Stripes Honor Flight took 170 veterans of the Vietnam War, Korean War and World War II from Milwaukee to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials honoring their military service. Portions of their day were touched by our employees who wrote letters and volunteered to help ensure a smooth trip for all involved.


“It was one of the most humbling and meaningful experiences of my life. I feel we are here to serve, encourage and care for the needs of others around us, and was so grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside the other We Energies employees who cared for and honored these veterans,” said Joel Burow, manager – CSO economic development, who volunteered as a guardian.

Guardians typically are family members or other members of the public who accompany a veteran for the entire day. As sponsor of the May 11 flight, we were able to provide guardian opportunities for three employees.

‘It was all heartfelt’
Burow’s father served in the Army Air Force during WWII. He contracted polio after the war and was not able to be an Honor Flight participant before his passing. As a guardian on the May 11 flight, Burow was able to honor his dad while helping another veteran with limited mobility whose family couldn’t travel with him. That veteran, named John, was in the Army during the Vietnam War, serving in the communication squad room in Germany and as a motor pool driver.


Neither he nor Burow had been to Washington before, so the two were able to visit the memorials for the first time together, with Burow pushing John’s wheelchair and getting him on and off the bus safely throughout the day.

“He was greeted very affectionately throughout the day, hundreds and hundreds of times, with ‘Thank you for your service,’” Burow described. “You watched the faces of the people conveying that feeling to him, from young children to the elderly, from veteran to veteran. Each and every time it was heartfelt, and it was heartwarming for John to hear. He was very touched and said it was the best day of his life.”

‘Pay it back a little bit’
For Christy Walker, laboratory technician – environmental, May 11 was the first time she served as a guardian after volunteering in other capacities for previous Honor Flights. Many members of her family have served in the military.

“It’s a lot to put on the uniform for the U.S. It’s a lot of responsibility. I wanted to do this to honor that, especially for Vietnam vets,” Walker said. “They did not get the return home they should have. I really feel like it’s an opportunity to pay it back a little bit.”


The veteran she was paired with, Chris, served as a Marine during the Vietnam War but had a hard time connecting with other veterans because he had been stationed in California and Hawaii as an air traffic controller rather than in Vietnam. “I think it helped him connect with the fact that he is a Vietnam veteran and people are grateful for his service no matter what he did,” Walker said.

Because Chris does not have any family, Walker’s dad and aunt, both veterans, wrote letters for him to read during Mail Call on the flight back to Milwaukee. He, along with the other Honor Flight veterans, also received letters from our employees, including Tom Metcalfe, president of We Energies.

‘Somber, emotional and humbling’
Christy Schultz, computer systems specialist – IT services, was assigned as the guardian for Linda, an Army medic stationed in Texas during the Vietnam War.


“Serving during a time when women were not widely accepted in the military, and working with soldiers returning from Vietnam, Linda saw and experienced a different side of the war,” Schultz, an Army veteran herself, explained. Schultz assured Linda that she “had her back” when she was hesitant to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall, one of the last memorial visits of the day. Linda eventually decided she wanted to see it.

“To stand beside these men at the Vietnam wall while they touched the names of soldiers lost, with tears streaming down there cheeks, is something that neither Linda nor I will soon forget. It was a very somber, emotional and humbling moment,” Schultz said, adding that Linda was also moved by the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. “It served as a reminder of the important role she played during the Vietnam conflict, and she was speechless each and every time people would come by and thank her for her sacrifice and service.”

Volunteers
In addition to the three guardians, more than a dozen of our employees helped at the airport in the morning as corporate volunteers, greeting and directing veterans and guardians, or in the morning and evening as side guardians, accompanying veterans through the terminal. Some employees came in the evening for the welcome home parade through the airport.


"It was a very memorable experience to see and to provide whatever help I could as a volunteer,” said Ron Schildt, designer – CSO major projects design and engineering, who was a corporate volunteer. “These men and women are true heroes, and I was proud to be a very small part in making their special day a reality."


“We had a blast hanging out with the veterans and volunteers. I heard a lot of stories, most of them were funny, some sad,” said Travis Lewein, senior power plant mechanic, who served as a corporate volunteer and came back for the homecoming later that night. “It was electric like always. You can tell that a lot of those boys from Vietnam finally ‘came home’ after 50 years.”

WEC Energy Group employees contributed more than 300 letters and notes for veterans on the May 11 flight, including 175 handmade cards from Ann Wendt, services manager – CSO customer programs, and her teenage daughter.