Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cold weather power outage tips

When power goes out during cold temperatures, special precautions are needed to weather the situation:

Cold weather power outage tips:
  • Never use grills or outdoor cooking equipment indoors.
  • Be sure to have plenty of blankets and heavy clothing.
  • Close off unused rooms, add extra clothing, keep doors and windows closed. 
  • Open blinds and curtains if skies are sunny.
  • Keep generators outside, not in basement (because of carbon monoxide).
General outage safety tips:
  • Stay out of flooded basements.
  • If you leave house, have one light on that can be seen from street when power is on.
  • Stay away from downed or sagging power lines; do not touch anything on or near the lines.
  • If a power line falls across a vehicle you are in, stay inside.
  • If you use candles, set them on hard, flat surfaces; keep draperies and other flammable materials away; and do not leave them unattended. Best to use flashlights.
  • Have the following emergency items available: flashlight, cell phone, battery-powered radio, batteries, bottled water, nonperishable food.
  • If you have a well, draw an emergency water supply. Well pumps do not work if power goes out.
  • Unplug electrical appliances and plug them back in after your power is restored.
  • Know how to use your cell phone as your alarm clock should you lose power at night.
  • Keep refrigerator door closed as much as possible. Food can stay cold enough to last about 4 hours. Add dry ice to keep it cold longer.  
  • Frozen food will stay frozen for 48 hours if freezer is full; 24 hours if half full.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Winter natural gas forecast helps planning

Seeing the falling leaves reminds me that it's time to winterize the home, get the furnace checked and find the snow shovels. I also need to plan ahead for my winter heating bills. Weather and natural gas prices are two big factors – along with the temperature I set on my thermostat.

Here is the We Energies forecast for the winter heating season:

If the weather is comparable to last year when the temperature was 6.5 percent warmer than normal and the price of natural gas remains where it is today on the spot market, we can expect average residential customers to pay winter heating costs that are:
24 to 25 percent ($190 to $196) less than the most recent 5-year average.
4 to 5 percent ($25 to $31) less than the average residential customer paid last winter.
Less than 9 of the past 10 winters.

Based on normal winter weather and the price of natural gas remaining where it is today on the spot market, we can expect the average residential customer to pay winter heating costs that are:
17 to 18 percent ($134 to $140) less than the most recent 5-year average.
4 to 5 percent ($25 to $31) more than the average residential customer paid last winter.
Less than 8 of the past 10 winters.

Last winter, the average residential customer paid $626 in heating costs, which was:
23 percent ($188) below the average cost of the previous five winters.
26 percent ($219) below the costs of the previous winter.
29 percent ($252) below the costs of the most expensive winter (2007-08).
Less than 9 of the past 10 winters.

I'm hoping the weather is at least as warm as last winter so I pay less, but I won't be surprised if it returns to normal, which means I may be paying a little more than last year.  

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition features home built with our help

A home in Neenah, Wis., that our crews helped build in mid-August will be featured on ABC-TV’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. Central time.

Located at 770 Elm St. on Neenah’s southeast side, the home is owned by the Rhex Arboleda family.

Our participation started at 10 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14. We disconnected the natural gas and electric service to the existing home. We also rebuilt two spans of overhead lines – including a pole replacement – and installed temporary electric service for construction. Our work was done in about six hours.

Our employees returned Tuesday morning, Aug. 17, at 8:30 a.m. to find a new house with the siding and shingles being added. Our work was to install the new electric service. This was a challenge, but our crew stepped up to meet it, according to Bruce Sasman, our area manager in the Fox Valley. Sasman said the construction site was overrun with builders, and we had to install our underground electrical service where many people were working.

Work was complicated by the scant 6 feet between the house under construction and the adjacent dwelling, and a large emergency escape window well for the basement. Our crews also needed to install TV cable, phone cable, streetlight cable and natural gas service – all in the same spot. Our installation work ended about 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning. We removed the temporary electric service Thursday morning.

When the family returned Friday, thousands welcomed them and helped them “move that bus” to reveal their new home.

“The amazing part of this is the cooperation between all of the people on site,” said Sasman. “Every contractor we needed to deal with bent over backward to help us and others. It was a great representation of what people can do when they all have one goal.”

The production company project manager said we were one of the most organized and well-prepared utilities for such projects. “He told us we were definitely at the top of the industry,” said Sasman. “I’m extremely proud of our employees. It was gratifying to be a part of this amazing project.”

Tune in Sunday to see the results.