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 We Energies 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 Energies was 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 We Energies 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 We Energies 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.



Tuesday, May 21, 2019

‘The Beak Freak’ tops voting for peregrine falcon chick naming contest

As he has done all season against his tall opponents, Giannis Antetokounmpo outshined everyone in a vote to name tiny birds. The Beak Freak, named in honor of Giannis, is the top vote-getter in the our peregrine falcon chick naming contest. Giannis’ baseball all-star counterpart Christian Yelich is the top vote-getter among Brewers players with the nickname, Yeli.

Fans had the difficult job of choosing nicknames from a list of 20 past and current Bucks and Brewers players. While fans chose current players to top the list, they also showed some nostalgia, picking players from years and decades ago in the top three for both teams.

The top vote getters will be used to name the five peregrine falcon chicks hatched this spring at our power plants.

The Brewers players’ nicknames will be used for the two chicks hatched at Valley Power Plant, near Miller Park, while the Bucks names will be used for the three chicks hatched at Oak Creek Power Plant.

The falcon chicks will formally receive their names and have their tracking bands put on during events on Friday, May 24.

Valley Power Plant

· Yeli
– In honor of Christian Yelich
· Rockin' Robin – In honor of Robin Yount

Oak Creek Power Plant

· The Beak Freak
– In honor of Giannis Antetokounmpo
· Sky Hook – In honor of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
· Ray Ray – In honor of Ray Allen



The final votes had every player receiving support.

Bucks
  1. 53.8%The Beak Freak – In honor of Giannis Antetokounmpo
  2. 20.6%Sky Hook – In honor of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  3.   7.0%Ray Ray – In honor of Ray Allen
  4.   5.8% – Sir Sid – In honor of Sidney Moncrief
  5.   5.7%The Little O – In honor of Oscar Robertson
  6.   3.8%Jonny Mac – In honor of Jon McGlocklin
  7.   1.2% – Little Dog – In honor of Glenn Robinson
  8.   1.0% – TC – In honor of Terry Cummings
  9.   0.8% – Greyhound – In honor of Bob Dandridge
  10.   0.3% – Point Forward – In honor of Marques Johnson
Brewers
  1. 26.1% Yeli – In honor of Christian Yelich
  2. 16.1% Rockin' Robin – In honor of Robin Yount
  3. 15.3% Hammer – In honor of Hank Aaron
  4. 11.2% Prince – In honor of Prince Fielder
  5.   8.7% Coop – In honor of Cecil Cooper
  6.   7.3% Stormin – In honor of Gorman Thomas
  7.   4.6% Molly – In honor of Paul Molitor
  8.   3.9% Gumby – In honor of Jim Gantner
  9.   3.7% Brauny – In honor of Ryan Braun
  10.   3.1% Rollie – In honor of Rollie Fingers
Even though the voting is done, you can still watch the adorable chicks on livestreaming cameras as they are growing more and more every day.

We are part of a statewide effort to restore the peregrine falcon population. Since our first successful nest box in 1997, 273 peregrine falcons have hatched at our facilities.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Path to renewable energy fairness

Supporting a future that benefits all customers

Renewable energy is an important part of the diversified energy mix that we use to provide safe and reliable electricity to you and all of our customers. In fact, we’ve invested about $1 billion in renewable energy over the past 15 years, including the two largest wind farms in Wisconsin. Beyond our investments, we support customer-owned generation, like solar panels on the roofs of individual homes and businesses.


As the cost of solar has come down in recent years, the popularity of these small solar projects has gone up. Customers put solar panels on their roofs and use the energy produced in their homes and businesses. However, when the sun is not shining or their system is not working, we’re still there to provide power. Customers with solar panels rely on our power lines, our poles and the entire infrastructure that goes into our reliable network. But, because of the way those costs are billed, solar customers do not pay their fair share of the costs.

This means that other customers – customers who can’t afford a solar system, don’t have a suitable place to put one, or simply don’t want one – are paying costs people with solar panels are not.



We are simply looking to make the system fairer for everyone. The modest and reasonable changes we are proposing to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin will allow us to maintain a system that provides reliable service in an environmentally responsible way, while keeping our rates fair and affordable for all customers.



We support customer-owned solar and other power generation — and we support fair rates for all customers. One customer group should not subsidize another, which is why we are proposing that customers with their own generation pay their fair share of the costs for their use of the grid.

Friday, May 3, 2019

First falcon chicks have arrived

Two peregrine falcon eggs hatched overnight at the Oak Creek Power Plant. Check out the fluffy white chicks for yourself on our live feed. The cuteness will continue over the next few days, so make sure to watch all of the cameras closely for more signs of hatching.

In the meantime, check out these close-ups of the first chicks, and cast your vote to name them after Milwaukee sports legends.