Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Employee pledges an important part of $2.2 million United Way commitment

At the close of the United Way employee campaign last month, our employees had raised $687,546 for United Ways and their partner agencies and programs across the We Energies service area, but employee contributions are only part of the story. The We Energies Foundation provided a gift of nearly $1.25 million to the various United Ways that serve our service area, including Greater Milwaukee. In addition, campaign events raised $158,533, in-kind donations were estimated at $77,000 and retired employees contributed $33,647, for a grand total contribution of $2,202,791.

“This shows a huge commitment to the community on the part of our employees and our organization,” says Kevin Fletcher, senior vice president – customer operations and executive sponsor of the 2014 employee campaign. “We put a lot of effort into caring for customers with regard to their needs for safe and reliable natural gas and electric service, but this shows a commitment to ensure their other needs are met as well. Whether in our role as a provider of energy service or in our role as a friend and neighbor, through efforts such as the United Way campaign, we continue to show we care.”

More scams reported

We Energies customers continue to be targeted by scammers.

Green Dot
Under the Green Dot scam, customers receive phone calls from scammers posing as We Energies utility employees and are told their service will be disconnected unless they make an immediate payment. They are told to purchase a Green Dot or other type of prepaid debit card, load the card with money, and then provide the card number over the phone. If you receive a call like this, hang up and contact We Energies at 800-242-9137 or your local police department.

Scammers have been impersonating We Energies employees in the field and approaching customers at their homes. Again, using the threat of disconnection or other reasons, the scammers are demanding immediate payments and are using scanning devices to swipe customers’ debit or credit cards. We Energies does NOT collect payments of any kind in the field. Scammers also may ask to enter the home to check electrical or natural gas equipment.

These scammers may use fake We Energies identification cards, making the scammers appear legitimate. To remain safe and avoid falling victim, call us to verify if an employee is at your property. You can confirm an employee’s identity by calling 800-242-9137. When in doubt, do not let a stranger into your home.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cookie Book distribution events for 2014 end

2014 Cookie Book (PDF)
Distribution events for our 2014 Cookie Book ended Nov. 19.

However, you can download a copy of the 2014 Cookie Book as well as previous editions of the book on our website.

Cookie Books and other recipes

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

MFD rescues 5 contractors at Valley Power Plant

The Milwaukee Fire Department’s Heavy Urban Rescue Team (HURT) was called into action at Valley Power Plant (VAPP) Monday night when five contract workers became trapped on a power plant stack after the stack elevator malfunctioned. One worker was trapped inside the elevator, while four others were stranded on a platform about 200 feet above ground.

The HURT team arrived at the plant shortly after 5 p.m. and rescued the contractor trapped inside the elevator first, bringing him to the ground safely. The team then rescued the four remaining, using ropes and harnesses to lower each worker to the ground, one at a time. No one was injured, and the workers stranded on the platform managed to stay out of the elements inside a small shelter atop the platform.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Customer Care Center responds round the clock

Our Customer Care Center helps more than 
10,000 customers a day.
Keeping the lights on requires the work of thousands of employees who generate power at our plants, build and maintain the network of wires, and respond to problems that affect your service.

Our Customer Care Center responds to customers who need help with service requests, billing and payment questions, power outages and more. Each day, we receive about 10,000 to 12,000 calls – and on days when we have a high volume of power outages, maybe 10 times that total. To handle the calls, we have about 700 phone lines and 300 consultants who take the calls. We respond to residential customer service calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition to our consultants, we have an interactive voice response system that allows customers to access self-service for some transactions without having to talk to a consultant. We also have online resources to handle certain transactions.

Another way we manage call volume is Callback. When busy phones lines have customers waiting for a consultant, Callback allows customers to end their wait by having us call them back. This feature becomes available to customers who are on hold with a wait time of more than 2 minutes. Customers using the Callback option automatically have their place held in the waiting list and are called back as phone lines and consultants become available. Customers choosing to remain on hold are offered the Callback option two more times during their wait. Callback allows us to better serve our customers by eliminating the need to wait on the phone or to call us back when we are less busy. Callback is just one more way we make it easy to do business with us.

While technologies are useful to manage volume and to offer self-service, the best interactions remain the personal ones with knowledgeable and helpful consultants. Check out this short video to meet one of our consultants and see what’s happening on the other end of the line when you give us a call.

Keeping the Lights On: Her Friends and Neighbors

Friday, November 21, 2014

Our employees raise $687,336 for United Way

Our 2014 United Way pledge drive raised more than $687,336 for United Way, agency partners and an employee emergency fund.

“Together, our pledges will change lives and strengthen our community,” said Kevin Fletcher, senior vice president – customer operations and We Energies United Way campaign chair. “I’d like to thank everyone who pledged for showing how much We Energies cares.”

This year’s campaign again included many events to raise awareness and money for United Way and its partner agencies – and to have a good amount of fun. Here is a sampling:

Presque Isle Power Plant bake sale – Employees 
raised $1,300 in the sale where everything cost $1. 
Trivia night – Management employees from Customer 
Operations and other business areas held their annual 
trivia contest, which raised $2,700.
Pumpkin contest – Customer Services Business 
Effectiveness and Integration, and Meter-to-Bill 
teams held a pumpkin decorating contest that 
raised $160.

Supply Chain event and United Way benefit – 
Supply Chain employees held a supplier appreciation 
event and United Way benefit that raised more 
than $168,000 through sponsorships, raffles, silent 
auction and more

Oak Creek Expansion Plant festivities 
Employees showed their United Way support
by holding a chili cook-off, selling popcorn,
tailgating and hosting a beanbag toss,
pie-in-the-face event and dunk tank, raising $2,200.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

We are best in Midwest for keeping lights on

Award recognizes most reliable electric utilities nationwide 

For the fourth year in a row, we received the ReliabilityOne™ Award in the Midwest for the superior reliability of our electric system. 

The award, which is based on our performance for the year 2013, is given annually by PA Consulting Group to utilities that have excelled in delivering the most reliable electric service to their customers. 

“ReliabilityOne Award winners have a common thread: customers come first,” said Jeff Lewis, PA Consulting Group’s ReliabilityOne program director. “We Energies has kept its customers’ needs at the forefront, hinging its business success on maintaining the highest level of reliability.” 

“Receiving the ReliabilityOne award for four consecutive years is a testament to our employees who focus everyday on delivering outstanding customer care,” said Gale Klappa, chairman, president and chief executive of We Energies. 

All utilities operating electric delivery networks in North America are eligible for the ReliabilityOne Award. There are a total of six regional awards including Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Plains, West and Southeast. The selection is based primarily on system reliability statistics that measure the frequency and duration of customer outages. After provisional recipients are selected, each company undergoes an extensive on-site certification – an independent review of the processes and systems used to collect, analyze and report a company's reliability results. 

We have made significant investments in recent years to strengthen the reliability of our network by rebuilding hundreds of miles of distribution lines, and building and upgrading substations and other critical infrastructure. Our forestry management also has been recognized for responsible tree trimming practices to keep branches from coming into contact with power lines.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Feeding America accepts We Energies Foundation donation

From left, Lyn Hildenbrand, Jewel Currie and Patti NcNew.
Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin recently received a check for $10,000 thanks to the safety efforts of We Energies' employees.

Jewel Currie, director – transportation, health and safety at We Energies, and Patti McNew, foundation administrator at We Energies, presented Lyn Hildenbrand, fund development manager – Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, with the check on Nov. 10. The We Energies Foundation donation was determined by our employees through the third-quarter Safety Charity Challenge.

“Feeding America provides five meals for every one dollar donated to the food bank,” said Hildenbrand. “This donation will help provide 50,000 meals to hungry men, women and children.”

The donation will be shared with food banks and hunger-relief programs throughout our service area.

Each year, one out of six Americans goes hungry; more than 573,000 of whom reside in the state of Wisconsin. Learn more about the nation’s leading hunger-relief charity at feedingamerica.org.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Valley Power Plant Unit 1 now fueled on natural gas

Valley Power Plant
Conversion of Unit 1 at the Valley Power Plant in Milwaukee from coal to natural gas was completed successfully Nov. 5, and operation control turned over to plant staff.

According to Al Mihm, director – generation project development, “The two boilers have been tested and commissioned and are running very well on natural gas.”

Tom Metcalfe, senior vice president – power generation, accepted the turnover, noting, “This milestone is a credit to our employees and engineers, as well as our contractors, who were able to commission the new equipment without a single unintended boiler trip. It’s equally satisfying to see that the unit is able to perform at least as well on natural gas as it did on coal.”

Along with maintaining a reliable and affordable source of steam for approximately 400 downtown customers, the conversion from coal to natural gas will improve the environmental profile of the plant and continue to support the transmission network in downtown Milwaukee.

Unit 2 will be converted to natural gas next year.

Klappa named to All-America Executive Team by Institutional Investor magazine for 5th consecutive year

Gale Klappa, Wisconsin Energy chairman and CEO, has been named to Institutional Investor magazine’s All-America Executive Team for the fifth consecutive year.

Each year, the magazine conducts an extensive study of analysts and money managers from across the U.S. and abroad to determine the top-performing executives in virtually every industry sector – ranging from airlines to utilities.

In this year’s study, Klappa was ranked by buy-side analysts as one of the top three electric utility CEOs and the best CEO of a purely regulated utility.

More than 1,250 buy-side analysts and money managers at 660 firms and more than 1,000 analysts at brokerages and independent investment firms participated in the study.

Gale Klappa
Earlier this year, Klappa was named Wisconsin Business Leader of the Year by the Harvard Business School Club of Wisconsin.  Under his leadership, We Energies also has been named the most reliable utility in America by PA Consulting.

In addition, Corporate Responsibility Magazine has named Wisconsin Energy to its “Best Corporate Citizens” list for the seventh year in a row. The honor distinguishes Wisconsin Energy as one of America’s most transparent and accountable companies.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A purr-fect ending

Our crews never know what to expect in the field. A couple weeks ago, they encountered a kitten on a work site. It ran through a pipe and jumped into a construction trench filled with water. Our contractors from KS Energy immediately jumped in to save the little guy. Thanks to Chad Baumeister, Mark Hoppe, Justin Hoppe, Justin Rowntree and We Energies Gas Inspector Lori Scharneck. Lori even contacted an animal shelter which came to retrieve the kitty, now known affectionately as Piper. The folks caring for him at Kenosha Forgotten Friends posted this kind message on their Facebook page:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What can you do with a bicycle, a motor and spare parts? Make energy!

When Senior Engineer Greg Schroeder was asked if We Energies would participate in a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) expo, he wanted the company’s display to stand out. After all, the goal was to inspire a new generation of engineers.

He enlisted the help of colleagues, Bill Jahnke and Dennis Kane. Kane also involved his son, Alex, who built a device for his Eagle Scout project. He used an old bike, a treadmill motor, a lamp light and some good old-fashioned ingenuity. The lamp had LED, CFL and incandescent bulbs to demonstrate energy efficiency.

The finished product is pictured here: a stationary bicycle that generates electricity. It was on display Oct. 25 at the American Society of Civil Engineers’ annual STEM Expo at Milwaukee School of Engineering‘s (MSOE’s) Kern Center.

Students ages 6 to 18 were invited to discover the world of science, technology, engineering and math at 35 exploration stations. At We Energies’ station, guests pedaled to produce power.

The We Energies Foundation sponsored the expo with a $1,000 donation. Several of our employees are involved in STEM educational efforts.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Customer recipes featured in 2014 Cookie Book

From grandma’s eggnog cookies to gingerbread men to cinnamon sticks, the newest edition of our Cookie Book is filled with holiday favorites. A special section also includes decadent chocolate recipes such as 5 Pound Fudge and Chewy Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Cookies. In all, 32 recipes are featured in this year’s book, including customer recipes for the third year in a row.

We will start distributing the 2014 We Energies Cookie Book on Nov. 3. Two dozen distribution events are planned throughout our service area in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Signature distribution events are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 8, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Miller Park in Milwaukee and Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton. Customers are invited to enjoy hot cocoa, take a picture with Santa’s reindeer and pick up a free copy of the 2014 We Energies Cookie Book.

“For many of our customers, the holidays officially begin when they reach for their favorite We Energies Cookie Book,” said Gale Klappa, chairman, president and chief executive officer of We Energies. “We’re honored to be part of that tradition, which now spans more than 85 years.”

The We Energies Cookie Book dates back to 1928. Company home economists put together the first edition as a goodwill gesture for their customers. Customers also can take a trip down memory lane at our Cookie Book archive, where we placed decades of old editions, many considered collector’s editions.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fox Valley employees lend a hand at 2014 Quarry Quest

Our employees in the Fox Valley recently volunteered at Quarry Quest in Neenah.

Quarry Quest is an annual event to raise awareness about the construction and mining industries. The Sept. 13 event also raised money for local charities.

We Energies employees gave kids a hands-on experience about what it’s like to work in the utility industry. Kids geared up and climbed a miniature utility pole, learned how to assemble a gas meter and how to string wire.

Mark Wallace (left) and Tom Borchart help a future 
line mechanic get the feel of climbing a pole.

Mel Wills helps a future gas employee assemble 
a gas meter set.

Deb Robinson (left) and Steve Schlueter show kids 
the gloves used to handle high-voltage power lines.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Doors Open Milwaukee: See We Energies' Public Service Building

Public Service Building lobby.
Did you know our corporate headquarters building on Michigan Street was once a railroad station? Take a trip down memory lane this weekend as We Energies participates in Doors Open Milwaukee.

See where the first electric interurban passenger trains started rolling through Milwaukee in 1905. Our Public Service Building served as the depot for the interurban system with tracks leading right through the building.

The building’s ornate neoclassical design received national praise for being among the finest in the country at the time. Admirers noted the fine materials, including matched Italian marble and Tiffany windows. In 1995, the building underwent a complete restoration and renovation. In 1998, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Visitors will tour the ornate lobby and Corporate Conference Center. New for 2014 is the grand, art deco auditorium located on the second level. Sit and relax in the auditorium while you enjoy a presentation featuring the building and company history. Informational handouts and the 2013 Cookie Book will be available for visitors.

Where: 231 W. Michigan St., Milwaukee
Saturday, Sept. 20: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 21: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Doors Open Milwaukee

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sneak peek at 2014 We Energies Cookie Book

Holiday cookies in August? Here at We Energies, we’re already elbow deep in cookie dough!

We’re busy preparing the 2014 We Energies Cookie Book, which will be unveiled this November. Our talented food designer, Jennifer Janz, is the genius behind all those tantalizing treats. And Grace Natoli Sheldon is the brilliant photographer behind the lens. Check out the following photos for an inside look at this year’s photo shoot. 

Cookie Book distribution begins Nov. 4. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

New tool to fight scammers, recover money

We Energies, a Better Business Bureau (BBB) Corporate Community Partner, and the BBB Serving Wisconsin want consumers to be aware of a new tool to fight the “Green Dot” scam. Victims can get their money refunded, if they act quickly.

The company that issues prepaid Green Dot credit cards, MoneyPak, has launched a new online tool that allows purchasers to request a refund. If the scammer hasn’t already cashed the card, customers may be able to get their money back. For more information, visit moneypak.com.

Don't comply with callers asking for energy bill 
payments using a Green Dot prepaid debit card.
Although reports of the Green Dot scam have decreased at our company, we still receive scattered complaints. Scammers impersonate our employees and threaten disconnection unless the customer makes an immediate payment with a prepaid credit card. We do not solicit payments in this manner. Customers who receive suspicious calls should hang up and call us at 800-242-9137 to check the status of their account.

BBB regularly receives complaints nationwide about the Green Dot scam. Aside from utility customers, scammers also target satellite TV customers and other pre-pay products and services. Green Dot also has been used in lottery and sweepstakes scams, computer repair scams, job scams and more. BBB suggests consumers should:
  • Refuse offers that request payment via prepaid card. 
  • Never disclose their card number to someone they don’t know. 
  • Avoid websites or offers requesting payment specifically via Green Dot. 
  • Never use a Green Dot card to pay taxes or claim “winnings.” 
  • Remember to check companies at bbb.org.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Today is 8-11, same number to call before digging

Call 811 before starting any digging project.

Outdoor projects can turn dangerous if an underground utility line is struck. That’s why it’s important to call 811 (a nationwide number) for Diggers Hotline in Wisconsin or Miss Dig in Michigan at least three days before any project that involves digging. Knowing where utility lines are buried helps protect you and anyone else who may be digging.
You also can go to the Diggers Hotline website or Miss Dig website to request a locate. 
Specialists will visit your site and mark the location of all buried utility facilities  -- natural gas, electric, cable, telecommunications -- on your property within a few working days.

Friday, July 18, 2014

PSCW approves construction of West Central lateral

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) today approved our plans to build an 85-mile natural gas lateral from Eau Claire to Tomah at a project cost of just over $179 million. Construction is expected to be completed by late 2015.

We filed plans with the PSCW in March 2013.

The project is designed to address growing demand and to bolster the reliability of our natural gas delivery in western Wisconsin. Ten communities along the proposed route have passed resolutions authorizing us to provide natural gas service within their borders.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Restoration wrap up, answers to questions

Our crews, contractors and support personnel have worked safely and without incident to restore electric service to more than 125,000 customers who lost power when intense storms raked southeastern Wisconsin on Monday evening.

In terms of customers left without electric service, this is the fourth-worst storm in our history and worst since 2005. The main culprit was high winds that snapped branches and uprooted trees, which then brought down poles and power lines, causing extensive damage to our electrical distribution system and leaving a tangled, dangerous mess – particularly in Waukesha and Milwaukee counties.

Thanks to all the customers who remained patient throughout the outage and to our contractor personnel and crews from MGE, Wisconsin Public Service and Xcel Energy for helping us during the restoration.

Answers to some frequently asked questions:

Why couldn’t I get through to report my outage?
We experienced some technical issues with our automated phone system on Monday night that may have been due to the extraordinarily high volume of calls that flooded our system shortly after the storm hit. As a result, many customers were unable to report their outages. The issue was resolved later that evening.

How do you prioritize repair work?
Critical or emergency services are restored first. Then we work to repair situations that will restore power to the greatest number of people in the least amount of time. We work down that list until we reach the more isolated or individual issues. The objective is to restore as many people as possible as soon and as safely as possible. This process inconveniences the greatest number of customers for the least amount of time, but we understand the frustration of being one the customers out the longest.

Why did my estimated time of restoration keep changing?
We make estimates because we want customers to know the approximate time they can expect to have their power restored. The estimate is based on our experience and our understanding of the situation. Once crews arrive at the scene, an estimate may change because of changing priorities or conditions. For instance, a crew may provide an estimate after assessing a situation but may find that repairs are more extensive than anticipated, so they adjust the estimate accordingly. In many instances, they are able to complete work faster than estimated, but sometimes work takes longer than expected.

Why did I not see a crew after being told a crew had been dispatched?
Crews are dispatched to identify, isolate and correct or repair issues on our electric distribution system. The situation that caused you to lose power may have originated a long way from your home. If a crew was dispatched to restore your power, you can be assured they were working on it, even if you could not see them.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

More than 120,000 customers restored so far

Most outages have been caused by tree damage.
Crews have restored service to more than 120,000 customers since powerful storms rocked southeastern Wisconsin since Monday evening. The number of customers that were impacted by the storm was more than 125,000.

As of early this afternoon, about 4,000 customers are without power, mostly in Waukesha County. We expect to have all or nearly all of those customers restored by later this evening.

You can call 800-662-4797 to get updates and estimates for restoration on specific outages. When you call, we may indicate that a crew is assigned, which means a crew is scheduled to fix the problem but is not yet on the scene and may take a while before it arrives. In some cases, we indicate that a crew has arrived, which means they are making repairs, which may take hours, depending on the extent of repair needed.

In addition to our crews from southeastern Wisconsin and the Fox Valley, we have help from contractor personnel and crews from MGE, Wisconsin Public Service and Xcel Energy. A total of approximately 500 workers are in the field working on the restoration effort.

This is the worst storm to impact our electric distribution system in almost a decade, with widespread damage to poles and wires, much of it caused by trees and branches toppled or snapped by high winds. Based on current information, this storm caused the fourth-most outages of any storm in our history.

We appreciate the patience and understanding of all of our customers who lost their service and especially those who remain without power.

Crews are replacing hundreds of wires and poles.

When we get numerous outages at the same time as in this storm recovery effort, we prioritize our response. First, we address situations that are life-threatening or hazardous, such as a power line on a street. After these situations are addressed, we make equipment repairs that are causing outages to the greatest number of customers. First come transmission lines, then substations, then main distribution lines, then secondary lines to neighborhoods and finally service lines to individual homes and businesses.

Visit our website for our Outage Map and other outage and safety information

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mequon Nature Preserve recognizes Klappa, company with Stewardship Award

The Mequon Nature Preserve on June 17 recognized Chairman, President and CEO Gale Klappa and We Energies with its first-ever Stewardship Award. Klappa was honored for his leadership in meeting the region’s energy demands, while protecting natural resources and making the Milwaukee area a healthier place to live.

The company received the honor for reducing emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury and particulate matter by 80 percent, while increasing power generation by 50 percent; using renewable energy sources (wind, water and biomass) in its fuel portfolio; and supporting environmental organizations throughout the service area.

“We Energies’ grants fund capital projects and operations that enable local organizations to carry out their missions to preserve our natural environment and educate children,” said Steve Tews, a Mequon Nature Preserve board member. “Because of We Energies’ successful efforts to demonstrate how it can link the company’s economic success, its service to its customers with stewardship of our natural resources, Mequon Nature Preserve awards its 2014 Stewardship Award to We Energies.”

“People don’t often think of utilities as being friends of the environment,” said Klappa. “But we have a responsibility to be good stewards of our natural resources. And we’re having an impact — just a few weeks ago, the EPA stated that the air in Wisconsin is the cleanest it’s been in 30 years.”

The We Energies Foundation has supported Mequon Nature Preserve since 2002, contributing $128,000 to help fund start-up costs and renewable projects. In addition, we helped fund a wind turbine and solar panels for the preserve through a Power the Future program.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Crews work to restore power following overnight storms

Many power outages are caused by tree damage, which 
needs to be cleared before power lines can be repaired.
As of 3 p.m., our crews have restored service to more than 35,000 customers since storms ripped through our service area overnight.

While a number of customers remain without power throughout southeast Wisconsin, the majority are in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties.

Crews are out in force to restore service to customers as quickly and safely as possible. All service areas in southeast Wisconsin have been mobilized. We have 66 troubleshooters and 205 line personnel working. We also moved our contractors to the affected areas to help with restoration.

If you see a downed power line, stay at least 25 feet away and call us at 800-662-4797.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Herman, Aurora and Bullet join We Energies peregrine falcon family

Herman, Aurora and Bullet are the latest falcons to be named and banded at one of our power plants.

Employees from the Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette, Michigan, brought their families to Saturday’s banding event and submitted names for the birds. They even named the chicks’ mom -- Maya Angelou. She had previously been referred to as *P/*S, her banding identification tag from her birth site in Grand Haven, Michigan.

Banding visitors also had the opportunity to see an adult peregrine up close. Phoenix, one of the first falcons produced at the Presque Isle Power Plant in 2012, came back for a cameo. Phoenix now lives at the Chocolay Raptor Center because she would not be able to survive in the wild; she lost an eye and was found near death before being saved by the center.

Our power plant falcon bandings are drawing to a close with the chicks at our Port Washington Power Plant the final hatchlings yet to be named and banded.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Flashback Friday: Promoting electric appliances for weddings in 1940s

The "Electric Company" produced this ad in 1941 to persuade consumers to buy electric appliances as gifts, especially for special occasions such as weddings.

Energy conservation became a major theme during World War II, with the company’s appliance repairmen reporting “exceedingly heavy demand” for their services as customers sought to save energy by keeping their appliances in good working order. Such actions were part of our commitment to the war effort.

Wind – an important part of our energy mix

As part of our commitment to increasing renewable energy generation and our requirement to meet the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, we’ve invested about $1 billion in renewable energy projects over the past 10 years. An important component of our renewable energy mix is wind power – in fact, wind energy makes up about 72 percent of our renewable energy portfolio.

We currently operate four wind energy centers that are capable of generating a combined 338 megawatts of renewable electricity. Glacier Hills Wind Park, located in the towns of Randolph and Scott in Columbia County, is Wisconsin’s largest wind development with 90 turbines. Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center in Fond du Lac County is a close second with 88 turbines. Combined with our Montfort and Byron wind energy centers, these renewable energy generating systems can power more than 81,000 homes annually.

More information about our wind energy projects and renewable energy efforts

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Keep your cool and save this summer

Wisconsin customers Focus in Energy
Reduce energy costs this summer by making simple home improvements with help from Focus on Energy. Visit Focus on Energy for:

  • Energy-saving tips.
  • Cash-back rewards on energy-efficient equipment.
  • In-store discounts on select Energy Star® products.
  • Partnered contractors in your area to help with your home improvements.

Michigan customers
Efficiency United offers cost-effective solutions and rebates for reducing energy use.

Visit Efficiency United or call 877-367-3191 for current program offers.

Scammer update

Scammers continue their attempts to impersonate We Energies employees on the phone, threaten disconnection and extract payment through prepaid Green Dot® MoneyPak cards purchased at stores such as Walgreen’s, CVS, Wal-Mart and others.

Recently, Elm Grove police tracked down and arrested an alleged scammer in Florida, as reported by WTMJ in Milwaukee:

Our customers also have been helping us get the word out to warn others about the scammers. Many have posted warnings on social media. Here’s an example of a customer who recorded a scammer phone call:

Remember, we do not solicit payment from customers over the phone asking for prepaid card numbers. If you get a call that sounds suspicious, hang up immediately and call us at 800-242-9137 to check on your account status and/or payment history.

For more information, visit our webpage or read our earlier news post on scams.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Be smart, stay safe in summer storms

Our crews and emergency response teams do everything they can to keep your lights on. But sometimes, severe storms stop the power from flowing to our customers.

Call us
We rely on you to tell us when your power is out; you are an important part of our ability to identify and respond to storm damage. Keep our power outage hotline number in your cell phone or in another convenient place so you can let us know about power outages or emergencies.

We Energies Power Outage Hotline: 800-662-4797

Plan ahead
Be sure to have a safety plan in place in case you lose power. Keep emergency items handy, including food, water, flashlights, batteries and a cell phone. If someone in your home has a critical medical condition, let us know. We offer tips for developing a backup plan so you can be prepared if your service is interrupted.

Stay away
Storms can damage power lines. Downed power lines still may have electricity running through them. There’s no way to tell if they don’t. Many people think a power line will jump, spark or hum on the ground if it’s energized. That’s not true. Downed power lines may appear motionless and harmless, but often are silent and deadly. If you see a downed power line, consider it energized and dangerous. Leave the area immediately and call us at 800-662-4797.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Falcon chicks banded at Oak Creek site

Four peregrine falcons were named and banded today at our Oak Creek power plant site.

These are the first falcons to be banded this season. Their names are Franklin, Cliff, Hunter and Flash. The names were chosen by students from Country Dale Elementary School in Franklin who were on hand to see the banding.

We also will band chicks at our power plants in Pleasant Prairie, Wauwatosa, Port Washington and Marquette, Michigan.

You can view the falcons on our live streaming webcam.

Local media covered Monday’s banding in Oak Creek. Here are some links:

Oak Creek Now

Friday, May 30, 2014

2015-16 rate request filed with PSCW

We filed a rate request with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) today to set 2015-2016 rates for electric, natural gas and steam customers.

We arrived at the rate request after numerous discussions with consumer groups, including the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group (WIEG) and the Wisconsin Paper Council, and a thorough analysis by PSCW staff. CUB, WIEG and the Wisconsin Paper Council have agreed that the rate request, as analyzed by PSCW staff, is appropriate.

While rates will remain stable under this request, we continue to make significant investments in upgrades to renew and modernize the system, meet new environmental standards and reduce overall operating costs for customers. Those projects include the replacement of wires, power poles, substation components, natural gas lines, and upgrades to our generating facilities and steam systems.

Breakout of the filing, based upon each service:
  • 1.55% increase in 2015 for electric rates -- excluding fuel costs -- which includes funding requested for the Lake Michigan Fund and a solar project. The increase with our current estimate of fuel costs is 1.92%. Final estimate for 2015 will be determined later this year. No adjustment to electric base rates will be made in 2016. 
  • 3.27% increase in 2015 and 3.32% increase in 2016 for Wisconsin Gas operations.
  • 2.39% decrease for Wisconsin Electric Gas Operations. No change in base rates for 2016.
  • 2.10% increase for the downtown Milwaukee steam utility. No change in base rates for 2016.
  • 4.56% increase for the Milwaukee County steam utility. No change in base rates for 2016.

Dollar amounts and percentages are based across all customer classes. Impacts by rate class will be available in June and shared with customers via a bill insert.

The PSCW will host hearings later in the year, with an order expected by the end of 2014. Whatever amounts are approved would take effect at the start of 2015.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fisher House Wisconsin receives Safety Charity Challenge donation

We recently presented a check for $10,000 to Fisher House Wisconsin representatives. The check presentation was held on the future site of Fisher House Wisconsin, a facility for families of veterans receiving care at the Clement J. Zablocki V. A. Medical Center in Milwaukee. A groundbreaking ceremony will take place June 3.

Employees voted to contribute $10,000 from the We Energies Foundation to Fisher House for meeting the company’s first-quarter safety goals. This is the second time employees have voted for Fisher House Wisconsin in the Safety Charity Challenge, an incentive program that recognizes achievements in workplace safety while giving back to the communities in which we live, work and do business.

The Fisher House program supports America’s military in its time of need. Located on the grounds of V.A. hospitals and other military medical centers, Fisher House facilities provide a comforting “home away from home” for family members while a loved one is receiving care in an unfamiliar environment.

The V.A. Medical Center in Milwaukee was chosen to host Fisher House Wisconsin, in part, because of its state-of-the-art spinal cord injury unit. Patients from 22 states have been treated at the unit, creating a need for accommodations for patients’ families. Fisher House Wisconsin will fulfill that need when it opens in mid-2015, providing 16 suites capable of accommodating up to eight people per suite.

Left to right: Joan Lindstrom, program manager – Fisher House;
Dan Buttery, Fisher House board of directors;
Jewel Currie, director – transportation, health and safety, We Energies;
Cathy Schulze, senior communications specialist, We Energies;
John Quinette, executive director – Fisher House.

Gas fitter honored by MPD

From left, Chief Flynn, Baseler and Mayor Barrett.
Jim Baseler, one of our gas fitters, was honored with the Valorous Conduct Award from the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD). Baseler accepted the award from Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn at an awards ceremony May 14.

The award stems from Baseler’s response to a gas leak at a Milwaukee apartment building in February. A resident reported a strong odor of natural gas. Baseler quickly realized what was wrong: a gas line to the building’s clothes dryer had been disconnected. Knowing that residents were in danger, Baseler immediately evacuated eight units. He shut off the gas and worked with Milwaukee police and firefighters to safely ventilate the building.

“Jim’s situational awareness and quick action kept the other tenants safe from tragedy,” said Dave Megna, our director of system operations.

“It was nice to be honored,” said Baseler, a 10-year veteran of the company. “I am humbled by my job every day. I’m happy to help.”

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Eggs hatch at Oak Creek Power Plant peregrine falcon nest box

The four eggs at our Oak Creek Power Plant nest box all hatched between May 11 and May 13. You can watch live streaming video or check out this clip of feeding time this morning:

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Working together to keep natural gas pipelines safe

Natural gas pipelines, both the underground pipes that distribute natural gas and the pipes that connect homes and businesses to the natural gas distribution system, have outstanding safety records. These systems are routinely maintained and problems rarely occur. In fact, nearly 63 million homes in America rely on clean, efficient and safe natural gas for heating, cooking and more.

In the unlikely event there is a problem, contact us immediately at 800-261-5325 if you encounter
the following while working near a pipeline:
  • Smell the strong odor of rotten eggs associated with natural gas.
  • Hear an unusual hissing sound and/or see debris like leaves or dirt blowing in a localized area.
To prevent a hazardous situation while working in your yard, call your utility locating service three business days before you plan to dig. Representatives will mark utility-owned underground facilities on your property for free. So don’t forget to call – it’s the law.

Wisconsin Diggers Hotline: 811 or 800-242-8511
Michigan Miss Dig: 811 or 800-482-7171

More natural gas safety information

Trabajamos juntos para mantener las tuberías de gas natural seguras

Las tuberías de gas natural, tanto las que van por debajo de la tierra que distribuyen el gas natural, como las que conectan las casas y los negocios con el sistema de distribución de gas natural, tienen excelentes historiales de seguridad. Estos sistemas se mantienen con regularidad y rara vez ocurren problemas con ellos. De hecho, cerca de 63 millones de hogares en Estados Unidos confían en poder contar con un gas natural limpio, eficiente y seguro para calentarse, cocinar y más.

En el caso improbable de que exista un problema, contáctenos inmediatamente al 800-261-5325 si llegase a encontrar situaciones como éstas al estar trabajando cerca de la tubería:
  • Fuerte olor a huevo podrido, el cual se asocia con gas natural.
  • Escucha un silbido inusual y/o observa residuos como hojas o polvo volando en una ubicación particular.
Para prevenir una situación peligrosa mientras trabaja en su jardin, llame tres dias hábiles de anterioridad a la oficina de localizar los servicios. Nuestros representantes marcarán gratis su propiedad en donde están las instalaciones enterradas, así que no se olvide llamar a la línea de excavadores – es la ley.

Wisconsin Diggers Hotline: 811 o 800-242-8511
Michigan Miss Dig: 811 o 800-482-7171

Update on owlet rescued by Asplundh crews

An owlet rescued by our Asplundh crews last month is making great headway. The feathered friend has come a long way since falling from its nest in Muskego. Nearby neighbors have been keeping tabs on the nest and recently captured this great picture of the owlet and its siblings.

In early April, neighbors discovered the owlet grounded. They called the Wildlife in Need animal rehabilitation center, which called our Asplundh crews for help.

The center wanted to reunite the young bird with its family, so Asplundh crews made a quick stop during their daily routine and hoisted the youngster back into its nest in no time.

They also outfitted the nest with some reinforcements, placing it inside a more secure basket in hopes of helping prevent another treetop tumble.

We thank our Asplundh crews for always rising to the challenge, no matter what it is.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Falcon cam goes live

Our peregrine falcons are ready for the cameras. We recently launched our popular falcon cams, giving you a live look inside more nesting sites than ever before.

Right now, the falcons nesting at our Oak Creek power plant can be seen via live streaming video. Depending on nesting activity, the video will change to one of three other sites: Pleasant Prairie, Wauwatosa and Port Washington. Hourly still photos also are available from all of our power plant nest boxes.

Eggs are present at all six of our sites, and hatching should begin this week in both Oak Creek and Milwaukee (Valley Power Plant). If all goes as expected, our peregrine falcon recovery program will reach a major milestone this year – more than 200 peregrines produced at We Energies facilities.

You can follow the action online from birth to first flight. Aside from the webcams, updates will be posted via Twitter @we_energies. You also can subscribe to our raptor blog and have updates sent right to your inbox.

Monday, April 28, 2014

And the winner is... Freeway!

Freeway, a 2-year-old male hound mix from Lisbon, is the winner of our Safe Digging campaign photo contest.

Freeway was adopted from the Wisconsin Humane Society after being found in a box on the side of the interstate – hence, the name Freeway. His owner, Erin Hennessy, submitted this picture of Freeway digging around a stump in the yard.

He made such good headway that Erin posted the picture on Facebook with the caption “Stump removal by Freeway.” Erin eventually called in a professional to finish the job, and she says they were sure to call 811 first. So who better to help spread the word about safe digging than Freeway?

Outdoor projects can turn dangerous if an underground utility line is struck. That’s why it’s important to call Diggers Hotline in Wisconsin or Miss Dig in Michigan at least three days before any project that involves digging.

Freeway is helping us spread this important safety message: Doggone it! Call 811 (in any state) before you dig.

We received a big response to our Safe Digging photo contest. More than 1,700 votes were made for our top 10 finalists. Ellie of Brookfield was the runner up – a close second to Freeway. Thank you to all who entered pictures and voted.

Remember, call 811 before you dig.
Wisconsin: Diggers Hotline
Michigan: Miss Dig

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Vote for top dog

Thank you to everyone who submitted pictures of their dogs for consideration in our Safe Digging campaign.

We received a lot of great entries; it’s hard to pick a favorite. We need your help. We’ve narrowed the candidates down to 10 finalists and ask you to vote for your favorite. Whatever canine makes the cut will get a cameo in our Safe Digging campaign. 

With the nice weather finally here, people are eager to do yard work, but any project that involves digging should be considered dangerous if underground utilities are present. The winner will help us get the warning out. Doggone it! Call Diggers Hotline (811) before you dig. 

Votes will be accepted through the weekend. The winner will be announced here on Monday, April 28, as well as our other social media. 

At right are a couple of finalists. See the rest and cast your vote!