Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Company hosts 62nd Boy Scout Merit Badge Clinic

We Energies hosted its 62nd annual Boy Scout Electricity Merit Badge Clinic in the Public Service Building auditorium on Dec. 12. The company has hosted the clinics for more than six decades, dating back to 1954.

More than 60 scouts attended the clinic, completing 11 requirements, from building electromagnets to wiring a basic circuit, to earn their electricity merit badges. Scouts also had to pass a written test covering basic electrical principles and safety. Nearly two dozen We Energies employees volunteered their time to help the scouts.

2015 clinic volunteers: (Left to right) Mike Dindinger, Nicholas 
Mersenski, Mike Neldner, Ted Sniegowski, Lincoln Oro, Dennis 
Mersenski, Linda Mersenski (obscured), Marko Lucchesi, Dennis 
Kane, Jay Hoffman, Steve Jenson, Rob Johnson, Lori Peterson, 
Jerry Lang, Mathieu Sniegowski, Dawn Lemke, Steven Sniegowski, 
Alex Ohde, Brad Ohde, Steve Bishop, Max Calle

Friday, December 11, 2015

Decorate safely for the holidays

When you pull out those holiday lights, be sure to inspect them carefully. They may have worn during their year in storage. Replace any string lights that have broken cords. Beware of frayed wires and loose bulb connections. Unsafe electrical conditions can cause tree fires.

Also, don’t link more than three light strands together, and be sure not to overload electrical outlets.

When decorating outdoors, be sure to look up and spot potential hazards such as power lines. Never throw a string of lights or other decorations into trees near power lines. Keep ladders, equipment and yourself at least 10 feet from power lines.

Worried about the impact those holiday lights will have on your We Energies bill? Use energy-saving LED lights. Also, set your lights on a timer so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn them off at night.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Snowy owl released near Oak Creek Power Plant

Ukpik before his release.
It’s not every day you see a snowy owl up close. So, when one was spotted at Oak Creek Power Plant in early November, some employees took pause. The owl was on the ground and appeared injured. They took the appropriate action to observe the bird rather than approaching it.

As a company, we have a commitment to the environment and encourage our employees to be good environmental stewards. Susan Schumacher, principal ecological scientist with We Energies, was called to the site to check on the bird. After observation, she contacted the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at the Wisconsin Humane Society to come in and rescue the bird.

“We’ve always had a very keen interest in maintaining a good ecological balance at all of our sites. I’m glad it all worked out. Our employees did a really nice job doing the right thing by observing the bird,” said Schumacher.

Snowy owls are native to the arctic tundra but have been showing up in high numbers in Wisconsin over the past few years. The theory is that they are coming south searching for food. They are large birds that can have wingspans up to 4 feet.

The snowy owl was named Ukpik, an Inuit name for snowy owl. He was estimated to be between 3 to 4 years old. He was exhausted, dehydrated and thin. After just a few days, the bird was drinking and eating again.

“Before any animal is released, we do a lot of pre-release conditioning. There are multiple tests we do to make sure he is good to go. He is doing everything he needs to do to be a good, wild, snowy owl. He knows what to do. He’s an adult owl that just needed a little boost this winter,” said Crystal Sharlow-Schaefer, wildlife team leader for the Wisconsin Humane Society's Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

On Dec. 2, Ukpik was released successfully at Haas Park near Oak Creek Power Plant.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Use energy wisely this Thanksgiving

If you’re preparing Thanksgiving dinner and entertaining friends and family this year, consider these money-saving tips to control your energy costs.
  • Keep oven door closed. Use the window and light to peak at your bird. Every time you open the oven, the temperature inside drops as much as 25 degrees, delaying the progress and adding expense.
  • Check oven temperature. An oven thermometer is a great way to check out how hot your oven really gets. Many ovens operate at temperatures different than the setting. Test your oven temperature at several settings (325, 350, 375 and 400 degrees F) to find out if your oven runs hot or cool and adjust your settings accordingly. 
  • Clean your reflectors. Keep electric stove burner reflectors free from grime. Clean or replace them.
  • Match burner to cookware size. Use the right-size pot or pan to reduce heat loss, maximize energy efficiency and heat evenly. 
  • Use convection. If your oven has a convection feature, use it to circulate heated air around the food, reducing required temperature and cooking time.
  • Use microwave. Microwave cooking is fast and uses less energy than an oven or stove.
  • Use slow cooker. Although cooking time is longer, slow cookers use less energy than ovens. 
  • Use lids. When using the stove top, put lids on pots and pans to speed heating and to retain heat. 
  • Turn down furnace. If you have the oven going and dishes on the stove, you probably can turn the heat down a few degrees. The heat from your oven along with your guests should add considerable heat to your home. 
  • Use dishwasher. Only hand wash items not dishwasher safe. Dishwashers save your time, energy and water. Always wait for a full load before washing. Save more energy by stopping the heated drying and opening the door for air drying. 
  • Cool leftovers. Cover and allow hot items to cool before placing into refrigerator so it doesn’t need to work as hard. 
More money-saving tips

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Backyard greenhouse causes morning power outage

Strong winds and rain passed through our service territory over the past couple of days. Our crews have been busy. They have restored power to 14,500 customers over the last 24 hours.

We often see tree branches come in contact with our equipment and cause outages. Other unusual debris, however, also can become entangled in our wires.

This morning, our crews discovered a small greenhouse entangled in our wires on the south side of Milwaukee. High winds caused the greenhouse to flip into the wires, causing a power outage.

About 1,400 customers were affected by the incident. All but one had power restored within 45 minutes.

This incident did not cause downed lines, but if you come across downed power lines, or anything touching those lines, stay at least 25 feet away and call 911.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veteran relates military experience and current role in power generation

Marine veteran and 17-year We Energies employee, Joe Griffin currently works as manager – power generation support in Oak Creek. What might surprise you: He sees many similarities between his current role and work during his deployment aboard Naval shipping.

Joe Griffin (last on the right, kneeling) in Liberia
“Some of the same equipment and procedures we had in the military are very similar to power generation equipment and procedures,” said Griffin.

A team focus about health and safety is as important to We Energies as it is to the Navy/Marine Corps team.

“In the military, you are one big family. We Energies is one big family, too. You have to rely on the person next to you to stay safe. It’s no different than when I was deployed Naval shipping,” added Griffin.

Griffin was a sergeant in the Marines and spent most of his career in the military police. He also was deployed in the Mediterranean to conduct naval exercises with U.S. allies. In addition, he was deployed to Monrovia, Liberia, where he was part of a noncombatant evacuation of U.S. civilians during the First Liberian Civil War in 1990.

Nov. 11 is Armistice Day, more commonly known as Veterans Day. The day celebrates and honors America’s veterans for their willingness to serve. We Energies has a history of commitment to veterans with generous contributions to Stars and Stripes Honor Flight and Fisher House Wisconsin.

A few years ago, Griffin represented We Energies at a check presentation at Fisher House Wisconsin, where military and veterans’ families will soon be able to stay while loved ones receive treatment at the Clement J. Zablocki V.A. Medical Center in Milwaukee. Fisher House Wisconsin broke ground in June 2014 and is expected to be completed soon.

Fisher House Wisconsin has been a featured charity in We Energies’ Safety Charity Challenge. In 2014, Fisher House won three out of four Safety Charity Challenge votes, securing a total of $30,000 from the We Energies Foundation. Safety Charity Challenge donations are made when employees help the company meet quarterly safety goals.

“It was a natural fit for us, because of the number of veterans who work for We Energies. We know what veterans have gone through. We know what families have gone through, and it was an excellent choice for us,” said Griffin.

We salute Griffin and the many other veterans in the We Energies family this Veterans Day.

Veterans Day: Transitioning from the military

Nov. 11 is Armistice Day, more commonly known as Veterans Day. The day is set to celebrate and honor America’s veterans for their willingness to serve. We Energies has a history of commitment to our veterans in a variety of ways, such as Fisher House Wisconsin and Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

Cody Hughes pictured with his wife
We Energies has a long tradition of recruiting transitioning military to fill its employee ranks. Cody Hughes, operations supervisor at West Allis Operations Center, is one of the many veterans to make that transition.

Hughes started his military career in the Navy ROTC at Purdue University. He had a strong internal drive to serve his country. A tradition of serving the country and community runs in his family. His father is a firefighter and his grandfather was in the Army Reserves.

Hughes joined the Navy and served two tours overseas in the Persian Gulf and the Horn of Africa. He did many jobs during his six years in the Navy, but the job that helped him the most with his transition to We Energies was as an engineering officer on a destroyer.

“Part of the engineering background helped with my transition into We Energies, but mostly the Navy teaches you to be a leader and gives you a diverse skill set,” said Hughes.

At a job fair for transitioning from the military, Hughes met with a number of different employers; We Energies particularly caught his eye. He was hired to work in bulk material handling. Hughes moved up the ranks to supervisor in major projects.

Hughes added, “We Energies has a strong commitment to military. In certain work areas, working here was a natural progression for me and for other people like me.”

We salute Cody Hughes and the many other veterans in the We Energies family on this Veterans Day.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Cookie Book features recipes from 50 states

Special edition celebrates ‘The Holidays across America’

The 2015 We Energies Cookie Book takes customers on a culinary cross-country tour. From New York to Wisconsin to California, the newest edition of the Cookie Book features recipes from across the United States.

Titled “The Holidays across America,” the 2015 Cookie Book includes 51 recipes – one from every state and Washington D.C. The recipes were submitted by family and friends who have a special connection to Wisconsin.

Cookie Book distribution begins Nov. 2. Visit for a complete schedule.

Signature distribution events are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 7, 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 Cookie Book.

“For nearly 90 years, it’s been an honor to share our Cookie Books with our customers,” said Gale Klappa, chairman and chief executive of We Energies. “We hope this year’s edition will become part of our customers’ family traditions for generations to come.”

The We Energies Cookie Book dates back to 1928. Dozens of old editions, many considered collector’s items, can be found at

WITI Fox 6 video

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Crews install osprey platform in Fremont

Osprey on a utility pole.
A pair of ospreys in the Fox Valley has a new option to call home. Our crews recently installed a nesting platform near Fremont, Wisconsin, giving the pair a safer option than their original preference – atop one of our utility poles. 

Ospreys frequently attempt to nest on top of our power poles, which can result in power outages and harm to the ospreys. In this case, we were able to work with a local wildlife organization, The Feather, and a private landowner to secure a site
Drilling hole for osprey platform pole.
for a nesting platform.

Ospreys are listed as a special concern species in Wisconsin after their population declined significantly in the 1950s and ‘60s due to widespread use of pesticides such as DDT. We have installed dozens of osprey platforms since the late 1980s.

There’s no guarantee the pair will find and use the new platform, but it’s ready for them come nesting

Erecting the pole with platform.

    Photos courtesy of The Feather.

Mike Haak and Tim Bristol, We Energies line mechanics.

Friday, October 23, 2015

42-year We Energies veteran earns national achievement award

Jim Prothero always has had a passion for engineering and science. As a young boy, he loved building with erector sets. He had a natural curiosity about how things worked. When he was about 8 years old, he remembers taking apart one of his family’s clocks. Unfortunately, he couldn’t put it back together. But that frustration only fueled his drive.

Jim Prothero, manager - substation engineering
and transmission support
By high school, it was clear Prothero wanted to pursue engineering as a career. He went to the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (UWM), where he earned a degree in electrical engineering. He also completed graduate work at UWM and the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

In 1974, Prothero reported to work at We Energies. His skills were recognized, and he earned increasing responsibility with each job assignment. Eventually, he was managing the company’s electric distribution system - overseeing planning, maintenance and reliability of the grid.

In the late ‘90s, reliability was a major concern following a blackout in nearby Chicago. Prothero formed a reliability work group at We Energies to measure, analyze, report and develop programs to improve reliability. He also implemented proactive planning measures for public events at major venues such as Miller Park, State Fair and Summerfest. He initiated the same proactive planning to ensure reliability at critical facilities such as hospitals.

For these efforts – and many, many more – Prothero has been awarded the 2015 Outstanding Personal Achievement Award from PA Consulting. He accepted the award Oct. 22 at a ceremony in Miami.

He says he was surprised to receive the award, and initially wondered, “Why me?”

“Through my work with the Edison Electric Institute and the Electric Power Research Institute, I’ve met a lot of talented people out there,” he said.

He’s also quick to give credit to his colleagues. “The reality is: it takes a team to make everything work, and I have the most dedicated and hard-working team at We Energies.”

Congratulations to Prothero for his commitment to our company and reliability of electric service to our customers.

We Energies named best at keeping customers’ lights on

Executive Vice President Kevin Fletcher
Our customers can rest assured they’re in good hands. For the fifth year in a row, we’ve been named the most reliable utility in the Midwest.

We Energies received the ReliabilityOne™ Award at a ceremony in Florida last night. The annual award recognizes utilities that excel in delivering reliable electric service.

Kevin Fletcher, executive vice president - customer service and operations, accepted the award on the company’s behalf. “This is a testament to our employees who put our customers first in everything they do. From the folks answering customers’ calls to the line mechanics scaling poles in the middle of the night, our team takes reliability very seriously.”

We’re in the midst of a major overhaul to keep delivering reliable electric service to our customers. Between now and the end of 2019, we plan to rebuild nearly 2,000 miles of distribution lines that are more than 50 years old. We also intend to replace more than 18,000 utility poles and 20,000 transformers.

WISN-TV visited one of our major project sites. Watch this video of our crews in action:

WISN-TV report of distribution upgrades

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Heating costs could be lowest in more than a decade

The cost to heat your home this winter could be the lowest in more than a decade. Based on normal winter weather and natural gas prices remaining where they are today on the spot market, we estimate the average residential customers would pay 18 percent less to heat their homes this winter as compared to the winter of 2014-15.

Our projection indicates the average residential customer will pay $489 in winter heating costs between Nov. 1, 2015, and April 30, 2016 – the least expensive winter since 2001-02.

Along with being the lowest-cost heating season in 14 years, the average residential customer would pay:
  • $107 (18%) less than the winter for 2014-2015.
  • $140 (31%) less than the previous 10-year average.
  • $389 (44%) less than the most expensive winter (2007-08).

The calculation to determine normal winter weather is based on the average of daily temperatures during the past 20 winter heating seasons.

Natural gas continues to be the most affordable and reliable home heating option. The abundant supply of natural gas this winter is due in large part to stable domestic production levels.

We use a natural gas purchasing strategy that includes buying and storing a portion of our customers’ natural gas supply during the summer months when prices are traditionally lower.

For additional savings check out our energy-saving ideas such as furnace tune-ups and programmable thermostats on our website.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Pedal power on display at STEM expo

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

Our engineers had a popular display at this weekend’s STEM Expo at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). STEM is science, technology, engineering and math.

Dozens visited our display to try out a generator bike. The stationary bike uses a treadmill motor to produce energy. Students pedaled the bike and turned on lightbulbs. Different types of bulbs – LED, CFL and incandescent – helped demonstrate energy efficiency.

This is the second year we have participated in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ annual STEM expo at MSOE. The event invited students to discover the world of science, technology, engineering and math at different exploration stations. The goal is to inspire a new generation of engineers.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Milwaukee Fire Department honors We Energies with Community Hero Award

Our employees on stage with Mayor Tom Barrett
and Milwaukee Fire Chief Mark Rohlfing.
The Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD) honored We Energies at its Meritorious and Community Service Awards Ceremony last night. The annual ceremony celebrates courageous men and women of the MFD, Milwaukee Police Department and civilians who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.

We Energies was recognized with a Community Hero Award for the company’s close partnership with MFD when responding to emergencies.

“We Energies gas and electric line personnel, who respond on a regular basis to our emergency scenes, remain largely unrecognized for their important role in emergency mitigation,” said Deputy Fire Chief Aaron Lipski. “Whether 2 p.m. or 2 a.m., their prompt response and unfailing expertise in increasing the safety of our operating firefighters and paramedics and the civilians we all serve is consistent and focused.”

We Energies natural gas and electric workers often are requested at active fires to shut off natural gas service or de-energize electric lines to make it safe for firefighters to do their job.

“Their work, while often in the shadows and many times occurring too quickly to draw much attention, dramatically improves the operating conditions for our membership so that we can work to minimize property loss and increase survivability,” said Lipski.

Back row: Jeff Banaszak, Kevin Harrison, Dave Megna, Brian Tabbert, 
Fred Wenzel. Front row: Jerry Nash, Jerry Romanowski, Todd Lulinski, 
Kevin Fletcher, Tiara Joyner, Melissa Simpson

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Energy assistance now available

Customers now can apply for energy assistance for the upcoming heating season.

Applying for energy assistance has never been easier. Visit the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) website at or call 866-432-8947.

Milwaukee County residents can apply for assistance in person at Community Advocates or United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS). Visit or call 414-270-4653 for more information.

More families may qualify for aid this year due to changes in income eligibility. For example, an individual who earns $25,600/year or less may qualify and families of four that earn up to $49,200/year may also qualify.

WHEAP provides qualified residents with a one-time grant to help pay energy bills. Qualification is not based on whether someone is behind on paying their energy bills. Instead, the benefit amount is determined by several factors including household size, income level, energy costs and others.

Applicants must provide:

  • Photo ID for applicant, including name and address.
  • Proof of income for all household members for previous three months.
  • Social Security numbers for everyone in the household.
  • Current energy bill.
  • Phone number of landlord and rent certificate or statement (if applicant is a renter and heat is included in rent or a separate payment is made to the landlord).

WHEAP provides assistance to more than 200,000 Wisconsin families annually.

Customers with questions about their energy bills or payment options should call our payment assistance line at 800-842-4565.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Honor Flight: Unexpected surprises for one veteran

Leon is surprised by his grandchildren.
Credit VIP Photography
“The whole day was just seamless,” said We Energies employee and guardian Ted Sneigowski.

Ted’s father, Leon, said it was one of the greatest days of his life. His great day became even more memorable due to some special surprises along the way. Two of Leon’s grandchildren decided to surprise Leon at the memorial. Leon’s grandson, Conrad, and his girlfriend flew in from Florida, while his granddaughter, Laura, traveled from her home in Virginia.

Leon stepped off the tour bus at the Korean War Memorial and Laura came around the corner and greeted her grandfather. While he embraced Laura, Conrad came around the other side asking for a hug.

“The surprise on his face said it all,” said Ted.
Leon's grandson showing off his
American Hero sign.

The surprise of his oldest grandchildren was unexpected and wonderful, but Conrad had one
more surprise up his sleeve. He kneeled down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend, Courtney,
at the Lincoln Memorial. He really wanted his grandfather to be there for that special moment. Courtney said yes.

Leon said there were so many wonderful moments, but the crowning moment for him was on the trip back when he opened over 40 letters and cards during the flight’s “mail call” from his family, friends and We Energies employees.

“He couldn’t believe that people took the time to write to him,” said Ted.

After more than a dozen hours under his belt that day, Leon was looking forward to landing in Milwaukee and processing his reflections of the

Leon's family at the airport.
However, he was again taken aback by another surprise. Thousands of people, along with active duty and military personnel, greeted him and   the other veterans in a parade at Mitchell International Airport.

“It was a tear-jerking moment,” said Leon. He was thrilled to see his family waiting for him.

“The whole trip couldn’t have been more perfect,” said Leon.

For Ted, the experience brought him closer to his father and revealed a little more about a chapter in his father’s life he never knew.

“I learned more about my father in just one day than in the past 50 years,” said Ted.

Ted added that he is so grateful for the opportunity to have gone on this trip with his father, and very grateful that We Energies was involved in the sponsorship. 

“I have never been so proud to be a We Energies employee,” said Ted.

The first of a group of flights dubbed “Operation Parallel” successfully brought over 180 veterans to see their memorials on Sept. 12. The veterans were joined by their guardians and 25 additional volunteers in Washington, D.C., to see the Korean War Memorial, WWII Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “Operation Parallel” is a nod to the fact that the Korean War was fought over the 38th parallel. The Stars and Stripes Honor Flight was sponsored by We Energies.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Be aware of underground utilities

This fire pit was placed right over a natural gas line.
Where should you put a fire pit? 
Not over a natural gas line.

This situation was recently brought to our attention. A customer unknowingly built a fire pit right on top of a natural gas line. This could have been disastrous if heat from the fire had reached the gas line. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.

Remember to call Diggers Hotline (811) to have your underground utilities marked before any type of yard project, such as fire pit, fence or anything else, so you can safely work around it.

Customers who failed to call Diggers Hotline have unknowingly installed patios or tool sheds over underground utilities. Don’t just assume you know where everything is buried. While most natural gas service lines run through front yards, sometimes they may run through a side or back yard. 

Always call 811 before any project in your yard involving digging.
Also, some customers may have secondary natural gas lines installed to supply a garage or barn. Secondary lines also can feed heaters for swimming pools and hot tubs. If you’re not the original home owner, you may be unaware of the location of secondary gas lines.

The bottom line – call Diggers Hotline at 811 before any type of project in your yard. Utility professionals will come mark your lines for free. Please call at least three days prior to any project. You also can file a Diggers Hotline request online.

Yard safety

Honor Flight: One of the most memorable days of my life

Bob and Ron Drenzek meet Senator Bob Dole.
The first of a group of flights dubbed “Operation Parallel” successfully took more than180 veterans to see their memorials on Sept. 12.

The veterans were joined by their guardians and 25 additional volunteers in Washington, D.C., to see the Korean War Memorial, WWII Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Operation Parallel is a nod to the fact that the Korean War was fought over the 38th parallel. The Stars and Stripes Honor Flight was sponsored by We Energies.

Ron Drenzek, father of We Energies employees Bob and Dan Drenzek, was on the Sept. 12 flight. Bob accompanied Ron on the flight.

Ron wrote a letter to We Energies to share his thoughts on the flight:

Dear We Energies,

Christmas of 2014, my family let me know that as my present, they signed me up for the Honor Flight, something which I probably would never have done on my own. Turns out, it proved to be one of the most memorable days of my life.

My fear of going on the flight was that it would bring back some memories of terrible events that happen in wars. This flight did not do that. Instead, it made me recognize that the United States is the greatest country in the world because of the great people who composed it. Also, it allowed me to mingle with other veterans, and we met thousands of people who took the time to thank us for our service. 

Ron (red hat) salutes with his fellow veterans.

Something I think that is noteworthy is during this brief time of meeting with other veterans, there was no talk about the war or the battles we were in. Most of the conversations were about where we were from and about our families and how great the Honor Flight was treating us.

The most humorous thing that happened was the number of meals we received during the day.

1. 6:00 a.m. After checking in but before boarding the plane, we had a medium-sized breakfast.

2. 7:30 a.m. In flight to Washington, they gave us another breakfast in a box.

3. 12:00 p.m. After getting off the plane at Dulles airport, we received a box lunch on the bus on our way to Washington.

4. 6:00 p.m. After walking through all the Memorials and Arlington National Cemetery, we received a BBQ box lunch on the bus trip back to Dulles airport.

5. 7:30 p.m. Upon boarding the plane for the return trip, we received a dinner in a bag.

They made sure no one became hungry during the day.

When we arrived to tour the memorials, there was heavy rain falling for about an hour, so my guardian – my son Bob – and I put on our raincoats and walked around the numerous memorials. All of them are very well done and worthy of representing the special event it represented. Naturally, I had a special interest in the Korean Memorial, which was a group of soldiers walking across a rice paddy. On one side of the memorial, there was a granite wall inscribed with hundreds of faces of our military persons. For some reason, I wasn’t overcome with emotion here, but if there had been a wall with names, and I saw names of my buddies etched into it, I’m sure I would have had a lot of tears.

The last place we went was to the changing of the guard at Arlington Cemetery. It was a very solemn ceremony honoring the Unknown Soldier. It is something which I will never forget.

We flew out of Washington D.C. around 8:30 p.m. ET and arrived at Milwaukee General Mitchell about 9:30 p.m. The flight back turned out to be a lot more than uneventful. The Honor Flight people somehow arranged it so that each of the 183 veterans aboard received a huge envelope loaded with letters thanking us for our service. There were letters from people we never met, politicians, friends, neighbors, school children, businesses and most surprisingly, from each of my six children and 15 grandchildren. There were too many letters to read before we landed. This was the only time during this day that I noticed a lot of handkerchiefs drying many tears (and I thought these guys were big and tough).

Ron Drenzek opens letters on the return flight.
Finally, we arrived home and after some delay, we embarked and headed into the first concourse room. They kept us in single file so that we walked between two columns of at least 100 military persons in each column. The columns were made up of active, retired and reserve military, VA vets along with boy and girl scouts all standing at attention and holding a hand salute to us. It must have taken an hour to unload the plane, and they stayed at attention till the last man got off the plane. It was quiet during the entire time it took us to walk through this room. It was hard for us not to have tears running down our cheeks.

From there, we walked single file into the main concourse, which was filled with an estimated 3,000 people all screaming, “Thank You,” waving flags and shaking hands. We walked through a 6-foot-wide, roped-off corridor, which winded through all these beautiful people.

I hope that every veteran gets the chance to make the Honor Flight. It truly gives you another perspective of what you served for. 

Bob and Ron Drenzek in the 747 cockpit.
None of this could have happened if not for the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight Inc. and Network. I understand everyone associated with this program is a volunteer. The word is that this particular flight cost thousands of dollars. All paid for with donations from numerous corporations and individuals.

Thank you and God bless the wonderful volunteers who made this event possible. It takes a real talented professional group of people to make it such a great success.

The proof of this is that I am not aware of even one complaint against the volunteers, and they were dealing with 132 grumpy old men and one woman.

Love to all the wonderful people who took the time to be there and thank us.

Also, a special thank you to the pilot of our plane who took pictures of me and my son Bob while we sat at the controls of the 747.

Ronald Drenzek

Monday, September 28, 2015

We Energies work-study student and Civil War buff: Hilario Deleon

Hilario Deleon first visited We Energies to attend a scouting event as a young boy. Never did he imagine that just a few years later he would be working at the company.

The 14-year-old is one of four Milwaukee high school students taking part in a work-study program at We Energies. The students are part of the inaugural class of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, which opened this summer. We Energies is one of 22 local businesses to partner with the school. Cristo Rey students spend one day a week at their work assignment and the other four days in the classroom.

Deleon admits he didn’t know much about Cristo Rey before enrolling. “The more I learned, the more I thought it would be a good opportunity,” said Deleon. “I took a chance, and I’m happy I took it.”

Deleon’s school year started early to prepare him for his job at We Energies. All Cristo Rey students attended an intensive, four-week business training camp in July. Following the camp, students got their work assignments for the school year. When Deleon found out he would be working in We Energies environmental department, he was thrilled. “I feel like I have the best job in my school!”

Part of Deleon’s time at We Energies is spent in the company’s environmental lab where technicians test samples from power plants to ensure compliance with environmental standards. “I feel strongly about protecting our environment,” said Deleon. “This position is a great fit for me.”

Outside of work and school, Deleon enjoys taking part in Civil War re-enactments. This summer, he participated in Grant encampments all over the state, bringing along his 1853 Enfield musket. Deleon calls himself a history buff and is considering becoming a professor someday. He also is an avid artist and enjoys drawing in his spare time.

Although his work-study program has only just begun, Deleon is already hoping to get re-assigned to We Energies. “I’m hoping to stay here all four years. The people are great, and I’m really enjoying my job.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

We’re going to college … to find prospective employees, coop/intern students

During the next few weeks, we are visiting college campuses for career fairs to recruit potential employees as well as coop/intern students, primarily in the fields of engineering, computer science and information technology.

We will discuss career opportunities and expected openings as well as specific projects and work locations. Interested students also can get information on our company and how to apply.

Anyone attending the following colleges, particularly in the fields mentioned above, is invited to visit us.

09/23 University of Illinois-Chicago, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

09/24 Marquette University, 3 to 7 p.m.

09/25 UW-Milwaukee, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

09/29 UW-Madison, 10 a.m. to noon

09/29 Michigan Tech, noon to 5 p.m.

09/30 UW-Platteville, 3 to 8 p.m.

09/30 UW-Green Bay, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

10/09 Milwaukee School of Engineering, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Guardian's impressions of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight

Aaron Cassidy and Huby "Buddy" Duty
About the author: Aaron Cassidy is a senior power marketing analyst for We Energies.

I had only known Huby Duty, a.k.a. “Buddy,” for three days, but on Tuesday, Sept. 15, I was eager to call him and wish him a happy 90th birthday and see how he spent his day. He is the kind of person you want to keep talking to because of his humor and personal stories; however, we found ourselves reminiscing for quite a while about the first day we met, just three days prior.

I met Buddy on Sept. 12, 2015, when I represented We Energies as a guardian on the 29th Stars and Stripes Honor Flight (SSHF) to Washington, D.C.. Buddy is a World War II veteran who was a Sherman tank driver and gunner in the 3rd Army’s 78th Infantry, Company B 709th Tank Battalion. His primary engagement during the war was in the European Theater, specifically during the Battle of Bulge. For his service during World War II, he was awarded the EAME (European-African-Middle Eastern) Theater Ribbon with three bronze stars, a Purple Heart, a Good Conduct medal, and a WWII Victory medal.

From the moment I met Buddy at 5 a.m., until we said our goodbyes at 11 p.m., we both experienced events over those 18 hours that words cannot adequately describe. With Buddy never having been to Washington before, everything was grander than he had imagined. As we flew to and from Washington on a Boeing 747 to tour the memorials, Buddy kept saying in a soft and genuine manner, “This is just great.” But his eyes, which scanned around constantly, truly showed the emotion and meaning of this flight.

On the flight back to Milwaukee, the SSHF volunteers perfectly executed the “Mail Call”– a throwback to when soldiers on the front would receive letters from back home. On the flight, all 182 veteran’s names were called and a bundle of letters was delivered to their seats. Buddy and other veterans were so excited to open thoughtful letters from their family, friends and also We Energies employees. They were moved to read the kind comments and wishes from people they had never met.

When we arrived at the gate and began unloading the plane, Buddy thought the day was complete; however, the evening was just getting started.

As we entered Concourse D, we walked through a salute from approximately 140 servicemen/servicewomen. No matter which branch of the Armed Forces these veterans served, it was a powerful moment to see active duty servicemen/servicewomen, respecting and saluting the veterans from World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War. I felt privileged to witness such an honorable and genuine moment of respect and gratitude. During that time, I recorded the moment for Buddy and his family to watch together after the flight.

After the salute, Buddy was in for another surprise when we passed through security and entered the upper level of General Mitchell Airport, where he was greeted by an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 people. He told me shortly after the parade that he “felt like a politician, with all the applause and handshaking.”

To see family, friends, and strangers ranging in age from toddler to adult rally together at such a late hour to ensure these heroes received a well-deserved reception is something I will always remember. It made me think about my own grandfather, a World War II veteran, who I never had the chance to meet or hear him tell his stories. I am certain he would have deeply appreciated that moment.

As Buddy and I wrapped up his birthday call, I asked, “Now that everything has settled down and you have had time to reflect on the Honor Flight, what was your favorite moment?”

He reflected for a moment and said cheerfully, “Everything.”

He proceeded to thank the We Energies Foundation for the flight’s sponsorship, his own personal copy of “Honor Flight – A Visual Journey” and a letter of recognition from Mr. Klappa. He said what We Energies did for this organization is amazing. He greatly appreciated the opportunity to be part of the 29th mission and thanked me for my guardianship. I told him it was our pleasure and thanked him for his service.

At that moment and throughout the trip, I was greatly appreciative of the opportunity to be part of the mission and very proud to work for a company that makes events like this a priority. And I can’t say enough about SSHF as an organization. Prior to my trip, I did not realize the amount of effort necessary to make an Honor Flight successful. This organization’s planning, coordination and execution as a 100-percent volunteer organization, with no central office, is an amazing accomplishment. From their Wheelchair Brigade to board of directors, thank you to Stars and Stripes Honor Flight for making the 29th mission a success.

As I was ending the call, Buddy kept saying he was so happy and appreciative and will remember it forever. I will as well.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Public Service Building history on display

Public Service Building
At one particular grand structure, doors not only will be open during Doors Open Milwaukee this weekend, but they will lead you to a powerful impression of Milwaukee’s heritage. Many buildings have come and gone, while some are still standing from the early 20th century. Few have the history and grandeur of the Public Service Building.

We Energies and Historic Milwaukee, through its fifth annual Doors Open Milwaukee event this weekend, will offer an opportunity to tour The Public Service Building (PSB) – one of Milwaukee’s treasured buildings. Historic Milwaukee is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to increasing awareness of and commitment to Milwaukee’s history and architecture.

Stained-glass window symbolizing
 the buzz of activity in the PSB
As visitors approach the PSB, they note the operating clock that adorns the center of the lintel above the main entrance. Inside, attention is drawn to the marble lobby walls that came from an Italian quarry and include a curious but prophetic architectural detail: a stained-glass window above the main entrance, symbolizing PSB activities as a swarm of bees buzzing around a hive.

“When people first walk in the door, their mouths drop open at the sight of the lobby,” said Tim Brown, We Energies’ coordinator for the event. “We have received positive feedback every year since we started participating in Doors Open Milwaukee. We are happy to show this architectural gem to the community who would not normally have access to it.”

The Public Service Building was originally built for The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company (TMER&L) main headquarters by architect Herman J. Esser. TMER&L later became We Energies. Esser’s design was a neoclassical, Beaux-Arts style which was very popular in the early 20th century. The four-story building is an architectural treasure, both outside and within. In 1902, the foundation work for the building commenced on Michigan Street.

PSB in the 1940s
The PSB was the center of transportation for the interurban streetcar system. The ground floor of the structure served as the depot for the system. A series of 11 tracks ran completely through the building. Trains entered the east end from Second Street, picked up their passengers and then exited onto Third Street. As time went on, buses replaced streetcars and Greyhound used the depot as their main Milwaukee terminal until 1965.

In the early days of the building, the second floor featured facilities for entertainment. These included a 1,200-seat auditorium, bowling alleys, dining rooms, library, billiard rooms, lockers and even a barber shop. The auditorium still is used as a corporate meeting space.

The PSB was remodeled many times over the years to accommodate the needs of its occupants, but in 1995, great efforts were taken to restore the building to its original glory. Prior to that restoration, the lobby chandelier was missing, and ornate ceilings were covered with plastic panels.

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The PSB will open its doors from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19, and Sunday, Sept. 20. Visitors will tour the ornate lobby and auditorium. We invite you to relax in the grand, Art Deco-style auditorium while you enjoy a presentation about the building and company history. You also can view historic photos in the adjacent hallway.

If you plan to visit the PSB, please be aware of construction on Michigan Street in front of the building. Access the building from the fenced sidewalk area that begins at the Second Street and Michigan Street intersection.

Friday, September 11, 2015

A connection that will span generations

In a unique connection that will span generations, an Iraq War veteran will share the experience of a Stars and Stripes Honor Flight with our honored World War II and Korean War veterans Sept. 12.

Robert (Bert) Garvin, executive vice president – external affairs, will serve as a guardian for the flight sponsored by We Energies. A guardian serves as a trained, traveling companion to an Honor Flight participant.

Garvin is excited to meet and share stories with the 89-year-old veteran that he will accompany. The veteran served in World War II with the Army Military Police from 1944 to 1946.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to participate in this flight. I have talked to the children of some of our WWII veterans and feedback has been the same—besides their wedding day and birth of their children, the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight is one of the best days of their lives,” said Garvin.

One topic certain to be discussed between the two veterans will be about family.

Although Garvin faced many challenges in Iraq, he spoke more about the challenges military families face at home. When he was called up, his wife was pregnant with their second child, and his daughter was just one year old. Garvin says the effect long deployments have on families is tough. He says that families serve, too—repeating what he heard during his own pre-deployment training: “when a soldier deploys, the family deploys.”

“I returned home with a renewed sense of appreciation not just for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans—but for my family. As a military spouse, my wife, Heidi, endured a long deployment; missed birthdays and anniversaries—all with a calm, strong presence for our young family. She did an amazing job,” said Garvin.

In today’s war, communication between families is a little easier than in the wars of the past. Email and online video calls help families stay connected. In the Korean War and World War II, military mail was the only means to access the world they temporarily left behind.

In that tradition, We Energies employees wrote more than 500 thank-you cards and notes to the veterans who will participate in this Saturday’s flight. The “Mail Call” will be distributed to the veterans on their return flight.

Garvin served in the U. S. Army as the senior trial counsel for the 40th Corps Support Group in Operation Iraqi Freedom IV.

He was stationed at Logistics Support Area Anaconda in central Iraq, approximately one hour north of Baghdad. His base was nicknamed “Mortaritaville” and was subjected to frequent rocket attacks and mortar rounds during the year he served.

Stars and Stripes Honor Flight will fly its 29th mission on Saturday, Sept. 12. The We Energies-sponsored flight will take local WWII and Korean War veterans from southeastern Wisconsin on a free, one-day trip to Washington, D.C., to see their memorials.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

We Energies employee and father to embark on Honor Flight

“I never expected to be doing anything like this,” said Ronald Drenzek, a Korean War Veteran and father of We Energies employees Bob and Dan Drenzek.

Ronald and his wife, Barb, read honor flight Christmas card
Ronald Drenzek’s family gave him a Christmas card with the news that they had applied to send Ronald on an Honor Flight. Recently, he learned he would be on the Sept. 12 “Operation Parallel” Stars and Stripes Honor Flight sponsored by We Energies. His son, Bob, will accompany him on the flight.

Bob added, “I’m excited. This has been a long time coming. My dad deserves this honor.”

Ronald enlisted in the Army in 1950, at the age of 20. He felt it was the right thing to do.

“It was right after World War II. If they needed soldiers, you just joined up, “ said Ronald.

Ronald was part of the 114th Combat Engineers based out of Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. After basic training, he left for Korea, where he spent his time rebuilding the main road out of Puson. The road was made of gravel. The weather was harsh, so some days were spent towing trucks out of the mud, just to keep the traffic moving.

“We also had to disable mines, booby traps and ‘jumping jacks’ before someone could run into them and it detonated,” said Ronald. “Jumping Jacks” are M16 mines that can launch 4 feet into the air and then detonate.

After four months working on the roads in Korea, Ronald was pulled out and sent to Japan for a special job.

“The Army found out I had a background in printing, so they sent me to Camp Sendai in Japan,” said Ronald.

In a time before computers and printers, Ronald supported the troops by converting old military maps into English and printing them off for the troops. He was quickly put in charge of the Japanese printing plant. The plant also served as a major supply storage area for the troops.

“We would get anything from toilet paper to soap, and then we would send it off to the troops still in Korea,” said Ronald.

While in Japan, Ronald says most of the men in the unit he left behind in Korea were killed after Gen. Douglas MacArthur made a controversial military move in the winter of 1951 that led to the Chinese intervening in the war.

“A lot of my friends didn’t make it home. Almost all of them were M.I.A. after the Chinese entered the battle. It’s hard to talk about it,” said Ronald.

President Truman later fired MacArthur.

A few of Ronald’s friends from the war did survive, and he visited them and sent Christmas cards back and forth for many years after Korea.

Bob says that the visits and the cards were all he knew about his father’s time in the Korean War.

“I’m looking forward to connecting with my dad. This part of his life is a mystery to me,” said Bob.

Stars and Stripes Honor Flight will fly its 29th mission on Saturday, Sept. 12. The We Energies-sponsored flight will take local WWII and Korean War veterans from southeastern Wisconsin on a free, one-day trip to Washington, D.C., to see their memorials.

"We’re excited to be flying so many local WWII and Korean War heroes at one time, on a 747,” said Paula Nelson, president of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. “We will continue to give priority to our WWII veterans but are so pleased to welcome such a large number of Korean War veterans. Thanks to all the fabulous support we have received from the community and our loyal sponsors such as We Energies, we are able to raise the funds to keep flying veterans and reduce our waiting lists."

Before boarding the flight to D.C., veterans will enjoy entertainment and the National Anthem performed by local singing group the “Radio Rosies.” The Kettle Moraine High School Band and Arrowhead High School Hawkettes dance team will provide entertainment and spirit for the evening’s homecoming celebration.

We Energies employees wrote more than 500 letters of thanks to the veterans who will fly on Saturday. These letters will be included in the flight’s “mail call,” which will be distributed on the trip home to Milwaukee at the end of the day.

“Today, through the prism of history, we understand much better the magnitude of the sacrifice and the valor of the men and women who fought fearlessly for our freedom,” said Gale Klappa, We Energies chairman and chief executive officer. “Our company has long supported the Stars and Stripes program, and we are proud to sponsor the Sept. 12 flight.”

Friday, September 4, 2015

Reflections of a Korean War veteran in anticipation of Honor Flight

Leon Sniegowski was 20 years old when he was drafted for the Korean War in 1952. He served in the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry division, 27th Regiment. This band of brothers was better known as the “Wolfhounds.”

“I prefer to remember the good times; the hard times I try to forget,” said Sniegowski. “I was shot at with artillery and had many close calls. I had a lot of friends who didn’t make it.”

Leon’s son, Ted, an employee at Port Washington Generating Station, says his dad never said much about his 14 months in Korea.

“He didn’t talk much about it, just about the weather and harsh conditions; he never talked about the fighting. He did tell me he would never eat lima beans again. ”

Leon and his fellow Korean War soldiers subsisted on C-rations from World War II. The main meal of the C-rations was beanies and weenies, which consisted of frankfurter chunks in tomato sauce. Sometimes, it was ham and lima beans – not to his liking.

Leon Sniegowski cooking his C-ration lunch.
“Our meals consisted of stale crackers, a chocolate bar and a main meal. We would use our knife to make slits in the can, use napalm that we would light with a match so we could eat it warm. However, it tasted better cold … well, it didn’t taste good at all,” he said. 

Leon, now 83 years old, received the call a few weeks ago that he was selected for the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. The flight is the first of a group of flights and fundraising efforts dubbed “Operation Parallel,” a nod to the fact that the Korean War was fought over the 38th parallel. The flight is sponsored by We Energies.

Leon asked his son if he thought he should go on the flight. The humble veteran thought there were guys more deserving than him – a common response from many veterans contacted for the flight.

“We do hear often that our veterans feel that there is someone more deserving that should go on the flights. Every contribution has led us to where we are today; every contribution is important. It’s important that we thank them for it,” said Karyn Roelke with Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

The Stars and Stripes Honor Flight begins early, with a 5 a.m. check-in at Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport for the approximately 180 Korean War and WWII veterans and their guardians. Once in Washington, D.C., they board coach buses and tour the WWII Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Marine Corps/Iwo Jima Memorial and more. The day often ends with the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery before making the flight home.

“Today, through the prism of history, we understand much better the magnitude of the sacrifice and the valor of the men and women such as Leon who fought fearlessly for our freedom,” said Gale Klappa, We Energies chairman and chief executive officer. “Our company has long supported the Stars and Stripes program, and we are proud to sponsor the September 12 flight.”

Learn more about Stars and Stripes Honor Flight at

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Setting the record straight

We are setting the record straight about an article posted Sept. 3 in an online news site citing neighbor concerns with the We Energies Oak Creek Power Plant.

We are not “negotiating over health concerns” with the neighbors who live near the Oak Creek power plant. We do not believe coal dust is causing health problems for anyone living in that area.

We recently were made aware of some health concerns raised by neighbors of the Oak Creek Power Plant and are currently looking into the matter. Our discussion with the neighbors’ attorney concerns protocols for testing the homes in question.

As always, residents with any concerns about our facilities can contact us, and we will investigate those concerns.

Prior to this recent issue, the only health concern brought forward to us was from Bill Pringle.

In response to those concerns, we tested the Pringle family home numerous times and did not find any coal dust inside or outside the home. We also tested at locations near the Pringle home and did not find any evidence of coal dust in those areas. In addition, we offered to have a highly regarded, nationally known third-party conduct testing at the Pringle home. Mr. Pringle refused that testing.

As no evidence of coal or coal dust has been found in the Pringle home, we dispute the doctor’s concluding statement about the probability of coal dust affecting Mrs. Pringle’s health.

As for the coal storage expansion plans, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recently issued an air permit after taking into consideration the views of the neighborhood. These requirements include video monitoring, reduced opacity limitation, improved wind break and use of crusting agents on the inactive portion of the south coal pile (the pile closest to homes). We also will submit a feasibility analysis for undertaking additional measures that include pre-planning for extreme weather events, use of additional water technologies for dust suppression, and additional shielding, wind curtains or other physical barriers.

Regarding the purchase of homes in the area, there were no health claims about coal dust or fly ash from any of the homes we purchased in the area. We did not approach or solicit any of the homeowners ourselves or through a broker. We only purchased homes that were put on the market by owners themselves. The contract agreement referred to in the article contained standard clauses requiring confidentiality and release of all claims, which are very common when businesses buy property from private homeowners.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

‘Tis the season! Wait … what?

It may be August, but our 2015 holiday Cookie Book already is starting to take shape. We just wrapped up the photo shoot for this year’s book, and we promise it won’t disappoint.

Our designers and food photographer worked their magic like usual, producing many mouth-watering images. At right is a sneak peek.

The 2015 We Energies Cookie Book has a new twist this year. We’ve collected recipes from across the country under the theme, “Holidays across America.” As a result, this year’s book will be bigger than usual, giving customers even more delicious recipes. The book will include 51 recipes – one from each state, plus Washington, D.C.

Our distribution schedule is online, so check it out and mark your calendars now. Distribution starts in early November with signature events in Milwaukee and Appleton on Saturday, Nov. 7.

For more behind-the-scenes footage from our photo shoot, watch these stories from Fox 6 News and Today’s TMJ4:

Fox 6 - “Looking luscious:” We Energies gets its cookie book ready for holiday season

TMJ-4 – We Energies to release annual cookie book in November

Monday, August 17, 2015

Crews unearth piece of local history

Crews installing a new gas main on Wells Street in Wauwatosa are taking a trip down memory lane. Underneath all the layers of concrete, they’ve unearthed old railroad tracks. They date back to the late 1800s, when Milwaukee’s original streetcars ran down Wells Street.

Our crews are upgrading a natural gas main in Wauwatosa, installing a new main underneath Wells Street. Before they can install the new pipe, they have to tear out the old trolley tracks. One crew has been busy ripping out the old steel tracks and railroad ties, while another crew follows behind to install the gas line. The old streetcar pieces are being hauled away to a scrap yard, but at least a couple are being saved for posterity. We’re told the historical society may get one. 
We looked through our archives and found this picture of an old Wells Street streetcar (bottom photo at right).

According to John Gurda’s “Path of a Pioneer,” Milwaukee’s first electric streetcar, a Sprague model, made its triumphal maiden voyage down Wells Street on April 3, 1890.

Known as the Route 10 streetcar line, it was the first streetcar route in Milwaukee and the first route to leave the city for a suburb.

According to Wauwatosa Alderman Dennis McBride who serves on the Wauwatosa Historic Preservation Commission, the old Wells Street line was a key component to Wauwatosa’s rapid growth from town to village to city.

The old streetcars operated out of our headquarters building on Michigan Street, called The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company at that time.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Meeting customers at state fair's Energy Park

We've been having so much fun at Energy Park at the Wisconsin State Fair. We hope you've had fun with us too. There is still time to join us - the fair runs through Sunday, Aug. 16. 

The best part of Energy Park is meeting you and your families. We enjoy sharing our safety messages with you through our interactive displays and games, keeping your kids safe with safety wristbands, and teaching you a thing or two about birds, gardening and cooking. 

A mother reached out to us on Facebook to thank one of our employees for making her daughter’s day extra special.

“Going above and beyond at the Wisconsin State Fair - thanks for drawing Hello Kitty on my daughter’s hat,” said Melissa Graves.

Employee David Nestler was happy to make 4-year-old Mallory’s day. He said, “She reminded me of my daughter, so I thought I would draw something special on her hat.”

Graves says that her daughter has been showing off her custom hat ever since.

Graves brought her children to Energy Park for the first time this year. She said they loved learning what natural gas smelled like and what the inside of a gas meter looks like. They also enjoyed learning about our gardens.

If you have a story to share, feel free to direct message us on Facebook. We might feature your Energy Park story.

We're getting 'Cheesy' at Wisconsin State Fair

Our customers come from all walks of life. Some live in the city, and some live in the country. One of the best things about the Wisconsin State Fair is that it brings these two groups together to learn more about country life, especially our Wisconsin farmers.

This is the second year we participated in the Blue Ribbon Cheese and Butter auction hosted by the Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Promotion Board. The board is made up of individuals and organizations who promote Wisconsin’s $43.4 billion dairy industry. The auction features the sale of blue-ribbon entries into the fair’s Cheese and Butter contest.

2015 Blue Ribbon Cheese and Butter Auction
“Dairy farmers are important business customers, and we are happy to support them,” said Susan Crane, manager of our special projects.

The We Energies Foundation purchased a 12-pound block of blue veined cheese from Team Salemville of Saputo Specialty Cheese in Richfield and a 12-pound block of mozzarella from George Crave of Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese in Waterloo.

The money raised at the auction supports scholarships for students pursuing dairy-related careers and the board’s dairy promotion efforts at the Wisconsin State Fair.

“We have a real commitment to help youth,” added Crane. “Developing a skill set of dedication and hard work through participation at the fair will help them throughout their lives.”

We Energies Foundation, is a nonprofit corporation that supports initiatives that promote culture and education in the communities in which we do business.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Workers find furry friend in need of help

Two of our field employees came across an unusual sight today – a raccoon stuck in a sewer grate. They alerted their supervisor, who contacted the Wisconsin Humane Society.

The Humane Society sent someone to rescue the little guy, nicknamed “Walter the We Energies raccoon” by the workers who found him. We are told Walter is once again roaming the streets of Milwaukee.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Power outage caused by unexpected object

Twitter follower alerted us.
Two rounds of storms caused power outages to more than 26,000 customers in our service area over the weekend.

We often see tree branches come in contact with our equipment and cause outages. Other unusual debris, however, also can become entangled in our wires.

In the town of Genesee, Wisconsin, one of our Twitter followers alerted our crews to a trampoline that was entangled in wires. 

Troubleshooter Scott Kirchoff was the first to arrive on scene. “You never know what’s going to happen when you come into work. It was something you don’t see every day,” said Kirchoff. 

Witnesses told our crews the trampoline flew into the air, sailed over a farm house, soared across the highway and then landed on our wires. As with any good stories, witnesses had different claims of how far up in the air the
trampoline reached. Most answered between 50 and 100 feet. 

Trampoline on wires in Genesee.
The incident caused 70 customers to lose power.

Kirchoff assessed the situation and decided he needed a crew with specialized equipment to help with the situation. He also called local authorities to help with traffic control as many people were stopping to look at the strange sight.

The trampoline was still rocking back and forth on the wires when Line Mechanic Dart Ellsworth arrived in his bucket truck.

Ellsworth said, “It was definitely interesting. It was a challenging project, but we were able to remove it safely. “

Dave Megna, vice president – Wisconsin system operations, says all sorts of objects, such as aluminum lawn furniture, have been tossed around into our wires during storms.

“This incident is a good reminder to secure objects that can easily fly around during high winds,” said Megna.

This incident did not cause downed lines, but if you come across downed power lines, or anything touching those lines, stay at least 25 feet away and call 911 or 800-662-4797.