Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Heroes among us — We Energies 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

We Energies announces huge solar energy project

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

This is We Energies 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.