Monday, February 22, 2016

Dog discovers natural gas leak in New Berlin

Gas fitter John Albrecht with Job and Jim Densmore.
Just last week, we told you about a family dog in Hartland who alerted his owners about a dangerous carbon monoxide leak. Now, another story is coming to light about man’s best friend sounding the alert about potential danger.

When Jim Densmore of New Berlin took his dog Job for a walk Saturday morning, the Lhasa mix kept circling around a spot on the side of the road. Job is both deaf and blind so his sense of smell is especially heightened. Sure enough, when Jim got close to the spot where Job was circling, he smelled something, too – natural gas.

We Energies was called to investigate. When fitter John Albrecht pointed his natural gas detection meter at Job’s spot, it started beeping, indicating a definite natural gas leak. 

“He’s an amazing little guy,” said Densmore. “He always surprises me. He can tell if a visitor walks into the house because they smell different.”

Our crew fixed a small underground leak. Fitter John Albrecht thanked Job for making his job a little easier that day. Then the pooch gave John a little “kiss” of appreciation!

The Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) has been following Job’s heroics, too. Job is an alumnus of WHS and was a star attraction at its 2015 fundraising gala.

The Densmores named Job after the biblical character who was beset with disaster that took away his health and prosperity.

“He is such a blessing,” said Densmore.

Gas leak, odor or emergency

Natural gas is colorless and odorless until we add mercaptan, a rotten egg odor to help detect leaks. If you smell natural gas or have a natural gas emergency:
  • Leave immediately – do not turn on light switches or use phone.
  • Call 800-261-5325 from another location.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

'Super dog' saves family from carbon monoxide

Abby the super dog. 

A southeastern Wisconsin canine is being praised as a hero after alerting her family to a carbon monoxide leak in their home.

Abby, a border collie aussie, was extra cuddly last week when Nicole Siekert, her owner, was feeling ill with flu-like symptoms.

“She kept nudging me, lifting my head up with her nose and pawing at me while I was trying to lie down,” explained Siekert.

Siekert thought Abby needed to be let outside, but when she opened the door, the dog continued down the stairs to the basement. Abby directed Siekert to a chirping carbon monoxide detector.

“I realized it and thought, oh my gosh, it’s the carbon monoxide detector, and it just clicked (with me),” said Siekert.

The cause of the carbon monoxide leak was a malfunctioning furnace.

Nicole and her daughters were treated at a local hospital for their exposure and are feeling much better.

Now Nicole has a message of her own, “Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. If you have one, make sure it’s working properly. If you don’t have one, get one immediately.”

As for Abby, Nicole and her daughters call her a “super dog.”

“She saved my life,” added Siekert.

We Energies honored Abby at her home with a certificate for her bravery and a basket of treats donated by the Wisconsin Humane Society.

Tips to prevent carbon monoxide issues in your home:

  • Know warning signs of CO poisoning. The warning signs of CO poisoning include flu-like symptoms that disappear when you spend time outside in the fresh air. If you suspect CO poisoning, leave the house immediately and call 911.
  • Prevent CO poisoning. Furnace maintenance is your first line of defense against possible carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO is a colorless and odorless gas produced when fuels such as gasoline, fuel oil, propane, kerosene, natural gas, coal and wood do not have an adequate oxygen supply to properly burn. While CO detectors can alert families about a potential problem before it’s too late, they are not a substitute for appliance maintenance. 
  • Maintain your furnace. Schedule an annual cleaning of your furnace by a certified heating and ventilating contractor to ensure safe and proper operation of your furnace. 
  • Install a CO detector. CO detectors are required in all Wisconsin residences. Similar to smoke detectors, CO detectors provide an early alert to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Any American Gas Associations and UL-approved models meet the standard for a good detector.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Candidates graduate from natural gas training program

A new partnership between We Energies and the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership (WRTP) already is yielding results. In the first joint effort between the two, We Energies hosted a training class for seasonal natural gas inspectors. Candidates were provided through WRTP, also known as Big Step. WRTP hosted a graduation ceremony on Feb. 12 for the first class of graduates. Eight candidates completed the six-week course.

“The sky is the limit for us,” said graduate Odell Johnson. “And it’s because many people have come forward to provide us this opportunity.”

Congratulations, graduates!

Graduates, instructors and representatives from WRTP and UW Local 2006.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Love is in the air, but party balloons shouldn't be

Dimming the lights on Valentine's Day can set a romantic mood. A total power blackout caused by a party balloon – not so much.

Party balloons can provide a nice romantic touch. However, they also could cause serious safety issues if not handled properly.

Helium-filled metallic or Mylar balloons caused more than a dozen power outages affecting more than 21,000 of our customers in 2015. The metallic surface of the balloon can act as a conductor that can create a short circuit in a power line.

“The balloons are basically aluminum foil filled with air,” explains Grant Melcher, one of our troubleshooters.

Melcher has had several experiences with Mylar balloons on power lines. He says that most of the time, the balloons are found on power lines in residential areas. That is cause for great concern because lines could fall across fences or in front of homes.

No matter what the cause, downed power lines can be energized and dangerous. Stay away and tell others to do the same.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Good news! Natural gas customers will save more than expected this heating season

We forecast that a typical residential customer will pay $150 less on their bills than last winter  25 percent less! If we have normal winter weather from now until the end of April, the average customer would pay $446 this winter heating season. That’s the lowest heating cost we’ve seen in 15 years and about half of what that customer paid eight years ago.

You probably can think of a few ways to spend that extra $150, but we have some ideas that could also help you earn additional savings on your energy bill this winter and for the winters to come:

Install a programmable thermostat for your comfort and convenience. It can adjust the heat or air conditioning for times you typically are away (when you go to work) and again for times you typically are home. You also can program it to turn the heat down when you go to sleep and turn is back up before you wake in the morning. It adjusts automatically, so you don’t have to remember to do it.

Buy some caulk and weather stripping to seal cracks and gaps around windows, doors and siding. This prevents cost of heated or cooled air and improves the comfort of your home.

Schedule a tune-up for your furnace and air conditioner. Seasonal maintenance keeps equipment running safely and efficiently, and saves money in the long run.

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.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Never tamper with natural gas meters

Natural gas meters attached to your home should never be tampered with or removed by customers. Recently, our gas fitters were called to a residence where a customer had dismantled our gas meter to install a gas line to a gas stove in his home. It could be a very dangerous situation.

“Under no circumstances, should you ever disconnect the natural gas piping outside your home, says Jerry Nash, a We Energies gas fitter who was called to the incident.

Nash was able to prevent any additional problems and quickly made the situation safe.

“The customer was unaware that he needed to give us or any qualified personnel, familiar with piping a call, said Nash.

Only our highly trained employees can remove or replace equipment on our natural gas meters. We also are responsible for maintaining gas mains and underground lines that connect our main to the natural gas meter. Customers are responsible for natural gas lines running from the meter to equipment in and around their property. A plumbing, heating or locating contractor can assist with locating, inspecting and repairing customer-owned buried piping. 

Our main concern is keeping our customers and employees safe. We are here to educate our customers to prevent potential accidents.

If you are unsure which natural gas facilities are your responsibility, contact us at 800-242-9137.

Natural gas is a colorless, odorless gas until we add mercaptan, a rotten egg odor to help detect leaks. If you smell natural gas or have a natural gas emergency, leave immediately and call 800-261-5325 from another location.

More natural gas safety tips