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.