Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cool efficiently to save money

Your greatest energy use comes from cooling and heating. During periods of extreme heat, air conditioning can add two or three dollars to your energy costs each day.

To help control central air conditioning costs, adjust your thermostat to a slightly higher setting, dress in cool clothes, use fans and avoid heat-producing activities such as cooking, drying and ironing until evenings. Also, increase the thermostat setting much higher (around 80 degrees) when you are away and then lower it when you are home (around 75 degrees).

Refrigeration uses less energy than air conditioning, but it likely comprises about 6 percent of your energy use. Because refrigerators and freezers produce heat, using them efficiently can save money and take some load off your cooling equipment as well.

Some ways to save on refrigeration:
  • Make sure your refrigerator is set to correct temperature  45 degrees is good for fridge and 0 degrees for freezer.
  • Make sure the seal is good. Keep it clean and replace it if damaged so cold air cannot escape. 
  • Keep vents and coils free of dust to improve efficiency and run less frequently. 
  • Keep refrigerator a couple of inches away from the wall to allow escape of hot air it creates. 
  • Let food cool before putting it into the refrigerator. 
  • Defrost frozen food in fridge rather than wasting water or using a microwave. The frozen food also helps keep the refrigerator cool. A slow defrost also is better for the food. 
  • Keep the doors closed as much as possible. Decide what you want before you open the door, get what you need and get out. Leaving the door opens wastes energy and costs money. 
  • If your freezer requires defrosting, do it when the ice gets ¼-inch thick to avoid wasting energy. 
  • Keep the freezer full. An empty freezer loses much cold air each time it’s opened. If you never have much in there, consider putting empty containers in there to take up the space. 
  • Consider replacing old units with newer Energy Star units, which are more efficient. Replacing refrigerators from the 1970s and 1980s can save $100 to $200 a year. The Energy Star calculator can help you estimate potential savings.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Scammers citing Fox Valley tornados when targeting customers

Customers in the Fox Valley are urged to be on alert for scammers claiming to be We Energies workers.

The scammers are calling customers, mentioning the recent tornados that touched down in the Fox Valley during the call. The callers claim that -- although customers’ power may have been out during the storm -- they still have an overdue bill and are at risk of disconnection. In some cases, the scammers are giving the customers the option of paying the bill in person at a We Energies facility. 

The scammers appear to be trying to legitimize their calls by mentioning both the storms and We Energies facilities. The callers continue pressuring customers to make a payment over the phone with a pre-paid debit card, or “Green Dot” card. This is a scam. We Energies does not solicit payment from customers in this manner. 

These scammers have been targeting customers across our service territory for several months. When the scam was first reported, Spanish-speaking customers were being targeted. Since then, the scammers have branched out. Customers of many different ethnicities have reported the scam. Small business customers also are being targeted. 

Utilities across the country also have had customers victimized by these scammers. From Colorado to California to New York, the scammers have targeted utility customers in many areas. Authorities believe they may be operating from an off-shore location, making them hard to track down. 

If you get a call that sounds suspicious, trust your gut and hang up. Call our Customer Care Center to see if the call really originated from We Energies. By calling 800-242-9137, you can verify if the call received was a scam, check on the status of your account, and verify your payment history.

Related links: Previous scam warnings on our blog and website

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Fox Valley restoration completed

As of 11 a.m., we have restored electric service to all Fox Valley customers affected by Wednesday's severe storm. This morning new power outages were reported, and we are working to resolve those just as quickly and as safely as possible.

We replaced more than 10 miles of distribution lines, 157 utility poles and 92 transformers in a three-day period in the wake of six tornados in the area. As a follow-up, we also are inspecting equipment in the area that may have suffered damage that could lead to future outages.

We appreciate the kind support of customers who shared food and drink with our crews as well as compliments and words of encouragement during the restoration effort. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Fox Valley storm restoration update

Since Wednesday’s early morning storms, crews have restored service to more than half of the nearly 60,000 who last power in the Fox Valley.

Hundreds of workers from our own crews as well as supplemental crews from contractors and other utilities are working around the clock to complete restoration. Hour to hour, more customers are seeing their service restored, and we expect that 90 percent of our customers in the Fox Valley will have service restored by Friday evening. The remainder -- in areas with most severe damage -- should be restored by Saturday evening.

The National Weather Service has confirmed that two tornadoes, with winds up to 90 mph, hit the Fox Valley very early Wednesday, causing major damage to our electrical network and the transmission system. More than 60 poles and 500 wires were knocked down during the storm. In many cases, we need to completely rebuild much of our network.

Fox6 News video:

Residents in Waupaca and Outagamie counties seeking shelter following storm damage can use the following shelters:

New London Elementary School
1300 Werner-Allen Drive

The New London American Red Cross shelter is near the border of Waupaca and Outagamie counties and can serve either county’s constituents.

Outagamie County along with the Red Cross also set up a shelter at:
Appleton West High School
Emmanuel Gym
610 N. Badger St.

Crews replace power lines in Little Chute.

Tree damage such as this example from Hortonville 
shows how much debris must be removed before 
electric service can be restored. Similar situations 
exist throughout the Fox Valley.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fox Valley storm restoration update

Severe storms with winds reported up to 90 mph passed through the Fox Valley service area early Aug. 7, causing extensive damage to our electrical network and the transmission system. At the storm’s peak, about 60,000 We Energies customers, including several major businesses, were out of service. Approximately 6,500 customers had been restored as of 9 a.m.

We are drawing upon resources from throughout our service area to safely restore service to the remaining customers without power.
Poles and wires on French Road near Freedom, Wis., 
are down as far as the eye can see.
The storm caused extensive damage to poles, wires, substations, transmission lines and some bulk electric system transformers. Although we will continue to make progress restoring power today, restoration will not be completed quickly, and it may take several days before all customers are restored. In some areas, we may need to completely rebuild much of the electric distribution network.

Customers should call 800-662-4797 to report outages and to stay at least 25 feet away from downed wires and anything touching them. No accidents or injuries have been reported at this time.

To see the extent of the outages, view our outage map