Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Company crews head east to restore power

Company crews departed our Racine Service Center this morning to help restore power in the aftermath of Sandy, the “Frankenstorm” that hit the East Coast on Monday with high winds and water.

A fleet of 14 trucks gets ready to depart from Racine to assist 
in storm  restoration  efforts to areas hit by Sandy.
The team includes 20 line mechanics, a fleet mechanic, four managers and 14 trucks. 

The crews’ first stop will be in Redford, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, where Sandy’s high winds knocked out power. From there, they will head further east for assignment to other areas.

Earlier this week, we released 50 contract crew members to assist with the restoration on the East Coast.

Milwaukee’s WISN-TV talked to us about the challenges utilities in the East are facing. 

WITI-TV also covered the deployment:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Flashback Friday: Butterfly Theater

Between 1911 and 1930, the picturesque Butterfly Theater greeted visitors to the Grand (now Wisconsin) Avenue in downtown Milwaukee.

The 1,200-seat movie house was a spectacular display of electric lighting capabilities. The butterfly design for the façade was delineated in 1,000 light bulbs spanning 27 feet from wingtip to wingtip.

With wings outstretched, the butterfly had a body of a woman draped in a Grecian gown. Atop the butterfly, at the apex of the façade, were volutes (scroll-like ornaments) that supported a pedestal surmounted by a lyre, bringing to 3,000 the total number light bulbs used to create the unique figure.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Employees help keep kids warmer this winter

Hundreds of children in the Milwaukee area will be warmer this winter, thanks to the generosity of employees who donated winter clothing items in a drive sponsored by several company affinity groups.

Becky Valcq, an employee in our legal services group and a member of the Fuel Milwaukee group, organized the effort. Angela Quigley, who works in our audit services group, assisted in her role as a loaned executive with United Way of Greater Milwaukee.

Overflowing collection barrels at our West Allis Operations Center, Oakbrook Service Center, Metro North Service Center, Pewaukee Customer Care Center, Milwaukee Customer Care Center, Pewaukee Stores, and at our downtown headquarters in Milwaukee netted several hundred items, including jackets, hats, mittens, sweatshirts, jeans and socks. Employees at Oakbrook also held a bake sale with proceeds going to United Way to purchase clothing.

Quigley delivered the items to five nonprofit agencies that serve the community and that offer programs supported by United Way:
  • COA (Children’s Outing Association) 
  • Silver Spring Neighborhood Center 
  • Boys and Girls Club 
  • La Causa Crisis Nursery 
  • Neighborhood House 
“I was honored and very fortunate to drop off the generous gifts of clothing for kids to these well-deserving agencies," said Quigley.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Soup’s on for a good cause

Some of our employees in Customer Operations completed another Day of Service project when they volunteered their time at the Milwaukee Empty Bowls 2012 event, Oct. 13, at Milwaukee Area Technical College-Oak Creek. The project is part of their ongoing Create a Day of Service initiative in which teams of employees share their time and talent with nonprofit organizations.

“It was great that we were able to represent the company for such a wonderful cause. I am already looking forward to next year’s event,” said Sue Clausing, manager - customer strategies and operations support (CSOS).

Guests selected and purchased an original, handcrafted bowl – there were more than 2,000 available – and sampled soups and breads donated by more than 50 local chefs and restaurants. Clausing, six members of her team and three family members helped with traffic control, washed the soup bowls before and after use by guests, and cleaned tables.

Live music and entertainment rounded out the event. Event proceeds will help stock food pantries and support meal programs in Milwaukee. Mary Askin, event coordinator for the CSOS team, said that the money raised was “$6,000 more than what the organization hoped to achieve. That was a great event.”

Learn more about Milwaukee Empty Bowls, an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that uses art to heighten hunger awareness and raise funds to address hunger.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Winter heating costs projected

We recently released our winter heating cost estimate. Based on natural gas already purchased and the current spot market price, the price for natural gas this winter is projected to be 8 percent lower than last year. The cost of the commodity is shown on the customer bill – without any markup.

Based on normal winter weather and the price of natural gas remaining where it is today on the spot market, it is estimated that our average residential customer will pay $548 in winter heating costs -- 9 percent ($45) more than last winter. That’s because customers could use more natural gas for heating if the weather is normal. Last winter, our region experienced warmer-than-normal temperatures.

The projected costs for customers for the upcoming heating season also would be:
  • Less than nine of the past 10 winters. 
  • 22 percent ($154) less than the most recent five-year average ($702). 
  • 24 percent ($176) less than the most recent 10-year average ($724). 
  • 38 percent ($330) less than the most expensive winter (2007/08 - $878).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Keep up with winter energy bills to avoid possible disconnection, additional fees in spring

We urge all customers to make regular payments during the winter season to avoid the need for a down payment and payment arrangements, and potential disconnection in the spring. This also can help avoid late fees and deposits.

We stop disconnecting residential customers during the disconnection moratorium, Nov. 1 through April 15. Any customers who qualify for energy assistance are urged to apply now as assistance is available. Call 800-842-4565 to make a down payment and payment arrangements to avoid disconnection or to get service reconnected.

Get help

We Energies
  • Phone Call 800-842-4565. Our automated system offers flexible arrangements anytime without waiting. Our representatives can help on weekdays, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Online Visit our website. Wisconsin residents who can pay their current bill now and remaining balance within three months can use our Personal Payment Plan.
  • Programs Ask about our Early Identification and Low Income Pilot programs for Wisconsin customers who may qualify if they receive energy assistance.  
  • Money-saving tips Call 800-242-9137 for a money-saving kit and information. Visit our website for money-saving tips.

Energy assistance
Wisconsin 866-432-8947
Michigan 855-275-6424  

Winter billing and payment myths and facts

Myth: If service is disconnected, We Energies will reconnect it when the winter moratorium begins.

Fact: We require an appropriate down payment and a payment arrangement for the remaining balance to reconnect service.

Myth: Customers don’t have to pay for energy used during the winter months.

Fact: We charge for energy use every month, including winter months. Avoid additional charges (late fees and/or reconnect fees) by paying on time every month.

Myth: Late or missed payments are not reported to credit bureaus during winter months.

Fact: We report to the credit bureaus throughout the year. We report positively when payments are made on time and negatively when they are not.

Myth: No additional fees are charged for bills not paid during the winter.

Fact: We may add the following charges in addition to regular usage if payments are not made in winter:
·     Late fees.
·     Disconnection and reconnection fees.
·     Deposit, which can be four times the  largest winter bill.