Thursday, May 28, 2015

Meet falcon chicks, Sharkie and Thunder Claw

Stocker school 
Two peregrine falcon chicks at our Pleasant Prairie Power Plant now have names. Thunder Claw and Sharkie were named by third graders from Stocker Elementary School in Kenosha. Sharkie is named after their school’s mascot, the Stocker Shark.

The students visited the Pleasant Prairie Power Plant Thursday to see the chicks get their wildlife bands. The bands allow researchers to track the endangered species as the peregrine population continues to grow. 

Our peregrine manager, Greg Septon, visited Stocker Elementary School earlier this month to talk about the peregrine falcon recovery effort. More than 200 peregrines have been born at We Energies power plants since 1997.

Here are a video and some pictures from Thursday’s banding in Pleasant Prairie. The Kenosha News covered the event.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

We Energies workers prevent possible electrocution

Flagpole on wire.
On the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, two of our employees, Geri Gaglione and Jennifer Brown, were returning to their office when they spotted a flagpole leaning on power lines on College Avenue in Milwaukee.

They made a sharp U-turn toward the scene to make sure everyone was okay. When they approached the scene, they saw an individual standing on a boom truck that was still attached to the pole. Gaglione and Brown screamed toward the man and told him to stay in the vehicle to avoid electrocution. They also shouted at other people in the area to stay back and get away.

They stayed in their own vehicle for safety as the scene was unstable. Gaglione and Brown were told that 911 had been called, so they called our dispatch to respond. The Milwaukee Fire Department and our crews moved quickly to de-energize the lines and bring the man to safety.

“We should always take precautions around downed power lines,” said Gaglione. “We wanted to make sure the people in the area stayed safe.”

Overhead power lines can carry more than 500,000 volts. Touching one of the lines can provide a path for electricity to the ground and injure or kill you. Assume all power lines are energized and dangerous.

Call 911 and We Energies at 800-662-4797 to report a downed line.

More information on power lines

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Injured peregrine falcon update

Herbert is still recovering from a dislocated elbow after being found injured in the backyard of a Wauwatosa home in early May.

Scott Diehl from the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center gave us an update. He says Herbert is on cage rest so he doesn’t flap around, which could cause the elbow to dislocate again. He’s had two laser-therapy treatments’ to help the soft-tissue wound heal faster and to help reduce the likelihood of infection.
Scott says Herbert is eating well and provided this picture of Herbert in an exam room.
Herbert was born at the We Energies Valley Power Plant 11 years ago. Herbert was nesting at St. Joseph’s Hospital this year. Since his injury has taken him out of parenting duties, two of his chicks have been moved to the Oak Creek Power Plant. They have been adopted by the peregrine falcon’s that occupy that nest.

More falcon chicks born over Memorial Day weekend

All six of our power plant nest boxes now have peregrine falcon chicks. Hatchlings arrived over the weekend at our last two sites – Milwaukee County Power Plant in Wauwatosa, and Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette, Michigan. All told, we have nearly 20 chicks at our power plants, including two which were recently transferred to the Oak Creek Power Plant after their dad was found injured.

It’s amazing how fast peregrine chicks grow. Here’s a picture of three hatchlings at our Milwaukee County Power Plant this morning. You can see one egg left to hatch:

Meanwhile, look at the Valley Power Plant chicks. These guys are nearly three weeks old now:

Our peregrine manager, Greg Septon, will begin banding chicks this week. Among our sites, he’ll start at the Pleasant Prairie Power Plant where the chicks are now old enough to get their wildlife bands. Students from Stocker Elementary School in Kenosha will watch the chicks get their wildlife bands and name the birds.

Friday, May 22, 2015

We Energies workers fight house fire

Photo courtesy of Sarah Greening
Troubleshooter Randy Willms and troubleshooter in training Bill Becker were coming back to the Racine Service Center after a routine job when they noticed something that wasn’t quite the routine. Black smoke was billowing in the air.

They headed towards the smoke and discovered a house fire. The home was just a half mile from the Racine Service Center. Springing into action, they used garden hoses from neighboring houses to subdue the flames. Willms said the fire was attacking the fence and making its way up to the house.

The South Shore Fire Department arrived a short time later and extinguished the fire.

“The quick thinking of the We Energies employees slowed the fire, and prevented it from spreading to the attic,” said South Shore Fire Department Division Chief Mark Pierce.

Willms and Becker also supported the situation by turning off the electric service to the home.

Willms said that he just felt the need to jump into action.

“I would do the same thing for my own neighbor,” Willms said.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Despite colder than normal winter, residents saved on winter heating costs

This winter was the third coldest in the past 30 years and it was colder than nine of the most recent 10 winters. Still, our typical customer paid less for heating this winter than all but two winters in the past decade.

For the six-month heating season that ended April 30, heating costs for a typical customer were $596, down 24 percent, or $187, from the $783 dollars in the winter of 2013-14.

A major factor in the savings this year was the price of natural gas. Abundant natural gas supplies and reduced demand from the previous winter helped keep prices moderate.

We Energies receives award for sustainability practices

Bruce Ramme, vice president – environmental, accepted a BizTimes IQ Award on behalf of the company at an awards luncheon Wednesday. BizTimes Media recognized We Energies for its efforts to recycle and reuse the combustion products from our coal and biomass power plants.

Bruce Ramme
Combustion products such as fly ash, bottom ash and gypsum are being beneficially used in the construction and agriculture industries. Fly ash is an important component in concrete and has been used in projects such as the Milwaukee Art Museum and Miller Park. Bottom ash often is applied as a road base and is currently being used in the I-94 rebuild between Wisconsin and Illinois. Gypsum is used to make wallboard and plaster and also is applied to farmers’ fields as a soil amendment. Last year, the company provided more than 1 million tons of combustion products for beneficial use.

“Milwaukee-based We Energies is committed to keeping its waste products out of landfills indefinitely, and serves as the industry-leading example when it comes to recycling and repurposing waste products from its facilities,” BizTimes wrote in a recent article.

Friday, May 15, 2015

We make moving easier

We offer convenient online and phone options for starting, stopping or transferring your energy service.

Start, stop or transfer energy service online
Use our website to start, stop or transfer energy services within our service territory. Online processing requires at least two business days. To use our online service, you must be:

• A residential homeowner or renter.
• Current with your energy payments.
• Willing to provide your Social Security number and previous address (to start service only).

Do it all in one call
You can call us anytime at 800-242-9137. With just one call, we can arrange natural gas and electric service, as well as phone, cable and more. Best of all, it’s free.

Now’s the time to make changes to your account
Moving is the perfect time to make changes to your account. We offer billing and payment options and energy efficiency information to save you time and money. Visit our website or call 800-242-9137 for more information.

New life for hydro plant

Our Twin Falls hydroelectric plant, located on the Menominee River near Iron Mountain, Michigan, has been producing electricity using the river’s natural flow since 1912. Last year, we began a project to rebuild the 6-megawatt (MW) facility. A new powerhouse with modern, efficient turbines and generators will replace the existing facility.

New technology will allow us to increase the amount of renewable energy produced at the hydroelectric plant to 9 MW and will incorporate design features to enhance fish protection. Construction will occur on the Wisconsin side of the river, directly across from the current powerhouse. Excavation for the new powerhouse is on schedule, and we expect the major structures and turbines to be installed late this year. Commercial operation is expected mid-2016. Demolition and removal of the existing facility will follow commercial operation of the new powerhouse.

Our generation fleet includes 13 hydroelectric plants that produce about 86 MW of renewable electricity annually.

Get outage information online

Example of outage map information.
Our outage map provides information on outages throughout our service area. You can view outages by communities or regions. You can see:

• Number of customers affected.
• When outage was reported.
• Cause, if known.

The outage map also provides restoration updates if we experience a major storm.

The outage map updates every 15 minutes and displays on mobile devices.

Peregrine falcon injured

Herbert, a peregrine falcon that had been born at our Valley Power Plant 11 years ago is recovering after being found injured in the backyard of a Wauwatosa home. 

Herbert is being treated at the Wisconsin Humane Society’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, where vets discovered he has a dislocated elbow and a shot from a pellet gun embedded in his abdomen.

The pellet is believed to have been there for a while and is not related to the elbow injury.

Herbert has nested at several locations around Milwaukee. Most recently, he was nesting at St. Joseph’s Hospital with his mate DJ. Herbert and DJ incubated four eggs this spring. Recently, all four hatched. Peregrine parents take turns incubating eggs, hunting and feeding the young. In Herbert’s absence, DJ was left alone to do the job of both parents.

For the best survival of the chicks, Peregrine Falcon Manager Greg Septon transported two of Herbert’s chicks to our Oak Creek Power Plant to be cared for by female, Eclipse, and male, Scott. This spring, Eclipse and Scott incubated four eggs at our Oak Creek site, but they never hatched. Another falcon tried taking over the nest box, and the territorial battle left the eggs unattended too often. Now, Eclipse and Scott still have a chance to be parents and have adopted two of Herbert’s chicks as if they are their own.

We may never know how Herbert injured his elbow, but it appears he will recover during the next several weeks, according to experts at the rehabilitation center.

Also of concern was the pellet found by the veterinarians. This is not the first time a peregrine falcon has been shot. In 2014, Madame X, a female falcon from the Milwaukee County Power Plant was found shot in West Allis. After many months of recovery, Madame X was released back to the wild.

Peregrine falcons are endangered species in Wisconsin. They also are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Act. Shooting a peregrine falcon is a serious crime, punishable by jail time and fines.

We have been involved in Wisconsin’s peregrine falcon recovery effort since the early 1990s and have nest boxes installed at six power plants, where more than 200 peregrines have been born. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

American Cancer Society accepts foundation donation

Jewel Currie, director – transportation, health and safety, presented a $10,000 check from the We Energies Foundation to MaryAnn Raash of the American Cancer Society (ACS).

The donation is made in the name of workplace safety as part of the Safety Charity Challenge. Employees helped the company meet its first-quarter safety goals and got to decide where the foundation should donate $10,000. ACS won 33 percent of the vote.

“On behalf of the American Cancer Society, it is with humble gratitude that we thank the We Energies Foundation, along with employees, for the gracious donation of $10,000,” said Raash, senior director of ACS Corporate Relations. “Thank you for being champions in the community and for caring about staying well, getting well, finding cures and fighting back!”

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Oak Creek students have special interest in birds, including falcons

Carollton Elementary School students get some hands-on 
education when it comes to chickens and ducks.
We recently spent a morning with bird loving fifth graders at Carollton Elementary School in Oak Creek. When we heard they were incubating eggs in their classroom, we knew they’d be interested in learning about peregrine falcons.

The students and their teacher, Janice Posda, have a special interest in birds. They’ve been incubating chicken and duck eggs in their classroom. When we arrived, we were greeted by four recently hatched chicks that peeped during our whole visit. The children were excited to tell us how they named the chicks and now care for them in their classroom. The chicks eventually will head to a local farm after the students are done observing them.

With all the bird excitement in the classroom, the students were eager to hear from our peregrine falcon manager, Greg Septon. He led a presentation on the history of peregrine falcons, teaching the students how they nearly became extinct. He told the students how power plants play an important role in helping the population grow. More than 200 peregrine falcons have been born at our power plants since 1997. This year, falcons again laid eggs at all six of our company sites.

The students will follow the nesting activity at our power plants on our website. A live webcam feed currently focuses on the Pleasant Prairie Power Plant nest box. When we checked the feed during our classroom visit, the kids were happy to see that one of the four eggs had hatched. At nearly the same time, students noticed a duck egg they’ve been incubating in the classroom start to hatch. So much excitement for one classroom!

The class will visit one of our power plants in the next few weeks to watch Septon put wildlife bands on the peregrine chicks. They’ll also get to name the birds -- something they’ve already had practice doing in their own classroom. They named their recent hatchlings Rocket, Hawkeye, Woodstock and Black Beak.

Peregrine Manager Greg Septon teaches Carollton students 
about peregrine falcons.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

First falcon chick arrives in Pleasant Prairie

Early Tuesday morning, a crack could be seen in one of four peregrine falcon eggs at our Pleasant Prairie Power Plant.

By early afternoon, a chick had broken through the shell and could be seen on our live webcam.

The remaining three eggs at the Pleasant Prairie site should be hatching soon. Five other power plant sites are expected to follow suit. Eggs are present at nest boxes in Oak Creek, Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Port Washington and Marquette, Michigan.

Follow the activity on Twitter and subscribe to our falcon blog for regular updates.

Live falcon cam

Falcon blog

First feeding for Pleasant Prairie chick:

Friday, May 1, 2015

Kenosha students learn about peregrine falcons

Third graders at Stocker Elementary School in Kenosha learned all about peregrine falcons when our peregrine manager Greg Septon visited their school Friday. Septon taught the students about Wisconsin’s peregrine recovery effort, which We Energies is proud to support.

Peregrine Manager Greg Septon teaches students at 
Stocker Elementary School in Kenosha.
Peregrine falcons were nearly extinct after pesticides used on farm crops decades ago led to eggshell thinning. Today, peregrines are making a comeback with more than two dozen active nest sites in Wisconsin, including six at We Energies power plants.

Students at Stocker Elementary School will be following the nesting activity at Pleasant Prairie Power Plant, which is only a couple miles from the school.

Four eggs laid at this site are
expected to hatch any day. The students will get to visit the power plant to see the chicks receive their wildlife bands in a few weeks.

Educators across the state are encouraged to follow our falcons with their students to teach about the recovery of this state-listed endangered species.

Peregrine falcon cams

Classroom booklet (PDF)

Videos, nesting reports and other peregrine falcon information are available on our website.

Peregrine falcons