Thursday, December 13, 2018

Scouts energized by Electricity Merit Badge clinic

The We Energies Public Service Building in Milwaukee was energized with activity as the 65th annual We Energies Electricity Merit Badge clinic for area Boy Scouts was held on Dec. 8.

The day began with an electric safety presentation by Marko Lucchesi, a supervisor in our electric construction maintenance group. The demonstration used a smaller-scale model of a street with homes, businesses, cars and people to show how each might come into contact with power equipment.

As part of the discussion, Lucchesi picked up a hot dog with insulated tongs and explained the similarities it has to a human: “Both have water, salt and meat.” He then touched the hot dog to live wires. It cooked from the inside out within seconds, surprising the scouts and showing why it’s important to avoid electric wires and equipment.

Lucchesi also talked to the group about how our employees stay safe. He displayed and allowed the scouts to explore the safety equipment that line mechanics use on a daily basis.

Pat Stiff, our vice president of coal generation and biomass, and a member of the Boy Scouts of America Three Harbors Council executive board, talked about his own experience as a scout. Stiff said he carries the lessons he learned as a scout with him today. He told the scouts to have fun and learn, and to be thankful for their parents and the volunteers who helped them at the event.

As part of the requirements to earn the electricity merit badge, the scouts showed their knowledge by completing several hands-on demonstrations to our employees. Some of these demonstrations included making and operating an electromagnet, completing an electrical home safety inspection, and demonstrating how to respond to an electrical medical emergency.

A written exam further tested their knowledge and skills of how electricity works and how to be safe around it. Scouts were tested on electrical terms and proper first aid procedures for a person exposed to a live wire.

Finally, the scouts presented their findings from a pre-event project to our employees who volunteered at the clinic.

Ted Sniegowski, manager – power generation, summed up our 65-year commitment to this program: “The more we can help young people explore technology and science, the better prepared they will be for the future.”

The electricity merit badge is one of the original merit badges adopted by the Boy Scouts in 1911.


Monday, December 10, 2018

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

Unlike an Elf on the Shelf, we can’t watch over your home this holiday season, but we can give you some gifts. Here are 12 helpful hints to make sure your holidays are safe and your home is cozy.

Hint 1: Holiday treats in the oven? Peek using the oven light, because opening the door can cause your energy use and cooking time to rise.

Hint 2: It’s the most wonderful time of the year to inspect your lights. Look for broken or frayed wires, and broken or loose connections to avoid potential fires or shocks. If you find problems, replace and repair.


Hint 3: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow – but please remove snow and ice from meters because it can stress meter piping, causing a natural gas leak.

Hint 4: Make it the hap-happiest season of all by lowering your thermostat seven to 10 degrees from its normal setting, especially when you are asleep or away from home more than 8 hours, to save as much as 10 percent a year on heating costs.

Hint 5: It’s a clinker! Don’t let the blasted furnace make your holiday story bitter. Clean or replace air filters in your heating system.

Hint 6: Feeling frosty? Use a space heater safely by keeping wrapped gifts, tissue paper and draperies at least six feet away to reduce a fire risk.

Hint 7: Gathering faithful friends and family near to you for a holiday feast? Using a small pan or pot on a large burner can waste more than 40 percent of the heat being produced.

Hint 8: Nothing says the holidays like a tasty casserole. If you use glass or ceramic pans for baking, you can turn down the oven temperature by 25 degrees and your dish will cook just as quickly.

Hint 9: Roasting chestnuts in your oven? As long as the oven door remains closed, enough heat will be stored inside to finish cooking your meal for the last few minutes.

Hint 10: Did Mister Snow Miser create icicles above your meter? You better watch out! They can fall and damage meter piping. Dripping water can also re-freeze, causing extra weight to build up on the meter.

Hint 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 jolly.

Hint 12: Getting ready for a holiday feast? Check that the flame is blue on your natural gas range to safely prepare your holiday dishes. Make sure your range top is clean as well.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Be festive and frugal with holiday lighting

Whether you are creating an outdoor holiday lighting display rivaling the Griswolds’ in Christmas Vacation or just lighting a simple indoor tree, we want to help you do it safely and efficiently.

Safety

Inspection: Always inspect your lights each year. Look for broken or frayed wires, and broken or loose connections to avoid potential fires or shocks. If you find problems, replace or repair.

Weather: Wait for a dry day to install (and remove) electrically powered outdoor decorations.

LEDs: Switch to LEDs, not only for efficiency, but also for safety. You can use up to 25 strings connected end to end into one wall socket without overload. With incandescent strings, limit each socket to three strings.

Cords: Use extension cords rated for low temperature and outdoor use when setting up outside displays. Keep connections off the ground and hang sockets downward or seal connections to prevent water from getting in.

GFCI: For best protection, plug outdoor lights and decorations into outlets with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI).

Power lines: When decorating outdoors, look for power lines. Never throw a string of lights or other decorations into trees near power lines. Keep ladders, equipment and yourself at least 10 feet away.

More holiday electrical safety information:
Electric Safety Foundation

Efficiency

LEDs: Energy-saving LED lighting is much more efficient than old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. They also last much longer, have a lower temperature and resist breakage.

Timers: Put timers on your outdoor displays to automatically shut them off overnight.

Calculate: Learn about holiday lighting and decoration costs with our calculator.


Monday, December 3, 2018

We Energies Foundation and Discovery World create energy experience exhibit

Discovery World recently energized its new Power On exhibit, which allows visitors to explore the generation and transformation of energy and the impact it has on our world.

The We Energies Foundation partnered with Discovery World in developing the exhibit, contributing $2 million.

Power On, which opened in mid-October, consists of multiple interactive exhibits that enable guests to generate energy and explore some of the important energy concepts that permeate our everyday lives. In addition, Discovery World is developing a new STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and math), energy-focused educational curriculum with We Energies and other community partners to complement this engaging and fun permanent exhibit.

“The energy experience allows guests to engage in all kinds of physical activities that are connected to the most important topics and concepts around energy. This powerful, often unseen force will become better understood and appreciated through these highly interactive experiences,” said Discovery World President and CEO Joel Brennan. “Alongside our partners from We Energies, we’re excited to bring an exhibit to our community that demonstrates how humans have harnessed different types of energy through technological innovations, scientific discovery, and persistent curiosity about the world around us.”

Children and their families are able to touch lightning, explore how wind turbines work, discover how to meet the energy needs of a city, play with invisible light energy, experiment with gravitational potential energy, and a whole lot more. The energy experience is accessible and engaging for visitors of all ages and levels of learning from toddlers to grandparents. It also provides a unique experience for school groups and engages them directly with science experiments and activities to inspire a lifelong interest in STEM as well as the potential career opportunities associated with the energy industry.

“We are pleased and excited to partner with Discovery World to invite families and students to interact with the vital force that powers their daily lives. We’re hoping Power On inspires the next generation of engineers and innovators who will be integral to the success of our industry,” said Beth Straka, vice president of the We Energies Foundation and senior vice president – corporate communications and investor relations of WEC Energy Group, the holding company of We Energies.

Several of our employees consulted with Discovery World as various components of the exhibit were planned and developed.

Photo courtesy of Discovery World
Frank Dombrowski, one of our principal environmental consultants, said Discovery World’s staff made good use of our input and suggestions. “The final products not only turned out to be a fun experience for visitors but also technically accurate,” he said.

Kyle Hoops, our director of power generation support, echoed Dombrowski’s thoughts on the relationship we had with Discovery World in designing the Power On exhibit.

“Their staff was very professional and highly motivated to make an entertaining and fun exhibit, but they also wanted it to be factual,” he said. “They accurately depicted our business, and the result was a home run.”

Visit Discovery World’s website for more information:

Discovery World


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Our hallmark of reliability recognized again

In the dictionary, a hallmark is defined as a distinguishing characteristic, trait or feature. Reliability has become our hallmark. For the eighth year in a row, we have been named “Best in the Midwest” for reliability.

PA Consulting presents ReliabilityOneTM awards annually to energy companies that achieve outstanding reliability performance and excel in delivering the most reliable electric service to their customers.

“Our consecutive ReliabilityOneTM awards are a testament to the skill and dedication of our employees, and to the investments we’ve made to ensure reliable, efficient service for our customers,” said Kevin Fletcher, president – WEC Energy Group, parent company of We Energies.

Kevin Fletcher, president – WEC Energy Group, and 
Dave Megna, vice president – Wisconsin System Operations.
Our most recent award is the 11th in the past 13 years in the Midwest, one of six regions in the performance review. 

The review is based primarily on system reliability statistics measuring customer outage frequency and duration. Companies who perform well in those measures then undergo an on-site certification process for its policies, processes and systems related to reliability.

In recent years, we’ve made investments to strengthen our reliability by rebuilding hundreds of miles of our electric distribution network, including wires, poles and transformers. The result? Our outage restoration time was 50 percent better than the national average in 2017.

We’re happy to win the award again but more happy for our customers who rely on us for having power when they need it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Make your holiday cooking energy efficient

Cooking a holiday meal can be stressful not only on the chef but also the energy bill. Use these tips to help cook efficiently during the holidays.

Preparation
  • Match pots and pans to burners. Using a small pan or pot on a bigger burner can waste more than 40 percent of the heat being produced. Using the smallest pot or pan possible on the proper sized burner not only takes less time to heat but also uses heat more efficiently. 
  • Use sturdy cookware. Cookware with warped bottoms can take up to 50 percent more energy. 
  • Thaw and chop. Two simple ways of reducing cooking time (and energy use) is to completely thaw your food before cooking and to chop vegetables and other food into smaller pieces. Turn on appliances after preparation is completed. 
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 to get the heat back to the set temperature. 
  • Use small appliances. Crockpots or toaster ovens use energy better than conventional ovens for smaller dishes or meals. 
  • Cool down. Allow leftovers to cool before refrigerating 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 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. Use settings based on laundry load size to make more efficient use of both energy and water. Most detergents work well in cold water.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Manage energy costs and save money with efficiency tips

Looking for inexpensive and easy ways to keep your home comfortable this winter? Manage your energy costs and save money by using energy more efficiently with these tips:
  • Leave your thermostat’s fan switch on “auto” so the fan only runs when the furnace runs. Setting the fan to “on” will cause it to run all the time, whether or not heating is needed. 
  • Adjust your thermostat when you are asleep or away from home. You can save as much as 10 percent a year on heating by simply lowering your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees F from its normal setting for 8 hours a day. Recommended thermostat settings when you are home are 68 degrees F in winter.
  • Seasonal maintenance keeps equipment running safely and efficiently, which will save you money in the long run. Replacing your filter can help extend the life of your HVAC unit, improve air quality in your home and keep your energy costs down. 
  • Use shades, blinds and drapes to help while heating your home. Open them to let the sun’s natural heat warm your home. This not only helps you cut back on heating bills but also saves money on your lighting bills. Make it a habit.