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: