Wednesday, August 31, 2016

We Energies partners with Milwaukee high school on work-study program

Four students from Milwaukee’s Cristo Rey Jesuit High School began a work-study program at our company on Aug. 22. This is the second year We Energies has hosted students from Cristo Rey.

The students are working in our downtown Milwaukee office where they'll spend five full workdays a month for the entire school year.

Front: Students Diana Bustos, Bryan Reyes, Hilario Deleon and Evamairani 
Alonzo. Back: Employees Maldoris Phillips, Faiza Strain, Tim Brown, 
Martha Garza-Rehrer, Joan Shafer and Trent Kohl.
Cristo Rey Jesuit High School opened its doors in Milwaukee last year. It is the first high school of its kind in the state of Wisconsin, providing Catholic, college-preparatory education to young men and women of all faiths and of limited financial means. In addition to a rigorous academic curriculum, all Cristo Rey students work at local companies. We Energies is one of 50 Milwaukee-area businesses to partner with the school.

The first Cristo Rey school opened in 1996 in Chicago. Today, Cristo Rey schools partner with more than 2,000 businesses in cities across the country. 

Safe practices and fun competition at We Energies rodeo

Safe practices and fun competition met at the We Energies Electric Rodeo Aug. 27 in West Allis, Wisconsin. Our trained employees competed in line mechanic rodeo games that promoted skill, safety and fun.

Line mechanics participated in a skills competition that included team utility pole mock rescues and other tasks that they could encounter in the field. The teams were judged on safety and efficiency.

Family and friends of employees watched the competition and participated in activities including face painting, rock wall climbing and 100-foot bucket truck rides.

The top three teams move on to the International Lineman’s Rodeo in Kansas City in October. They will compete against teams from other countries such as Ireland and Great Britain as well as teams from around the United States.

2016 winners:

First: Dylan Drephal
Second: Tristen Holman
Third: Andy Luedtke

First: Gunnar Axelson, Dale Hartung, Dan Christian
Second: Brian Walters, Will Verkuilen, Dylan Drephal
Third: A.J. Nehls, Derek Dorn, Nathan Christenson

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Squirrels: wildlife creature most likely to cause a power outage

It’s a squirrelly situation, but it’s something we deal with all the time.

Wildlife was to blame for 10 percent of power outages for our customers in 2015, and of those, 60 percent were caused by squirrels.

Wildlife protection has been installed to prevent squirrels from climbing on poles or gnawing on our wires. That protection can include a special coating that makes it hard for the squirrels to climb up our equipment as well as bushing covers on our transformers to prevent electrocution.

“Our power lines are the great urban highway for squirrels. As we find problem areas, we try to add protection,” says Mike Miller, a supervising engineer in electrical operations.

Substations are another target of the mischievous squirrel. They find it’s a nice place to build a nest or hide their nuts. We’ve added extra insulation to prevent animals from entering and causing a power outage.

Although squirrels are the most common wildlife pest, they are not alone. Birds, raccoons, snakes and other rodents all have been known to cause power interruptions.

Birds such as ospreys, build nests on top of our power poles. We’ve built several osprey nesting platforms in Wisconsin near power poles to give them a safer alternative.

Strangely enough, bird excrement also causes power outages. Large birds like to roost in the same spot, sometimes on our equipment. When they propel off, they “let go.” That excrement can build up on insulators and cause outages.

About 36,000 of our customers were affected by wildlife outages in 2015.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Partnership educates firefighters about natural gas, electric hazards

We Energies gas and electric operations workers recently hosted a three-day training session at the Milwaukee Police and Fire Training Academy in a new initiative to educate firefighters about the hazards and response tactics associated with natural gas and electric emergencies.

“Partnership in Safety” was the comprehensive program presented to more than 50 firefighters from the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD). They learned how We Energies first responders evaluate and mitigate natural gas and electric emergencies by studying real-life scenarios. Participants focused on how best to communicate and coordinate resources at various scenes.

“As utility first responders, we share a common goal with firefighters to protect lives,” said Operations Supervisor Joe Thom, who led the program. ”This partnership is sending the message that we’re here to assist the MFD and provide the necessary training so we can work together to protect the public.”

We Energies and MFD will continue the cross-training initiative to enhance their working relationship and preparedness for emergencies.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Safe Digging contest winners make canine cameo in new ad

The winners of our Safe Digging contest, Darby and Boca, got to enjoy the grand unveiling of their winning ad at Energy Park on Aug. 11. Both vizslas, along with their owners, Teresa and Frank Rizzo of Burlington, helped celebrate 8-11 day, a day to raise awareness about calling 811, Diggers Hotline. 

We asked customers to submit photos of their dogs digging in the yard and received dozens of entries. Darby and Boca received the most votes from the public. Now, they get to be ambassadors for our Safe Digging campaign. Their important message: Doggone it! Call 811 before you dig.

Whether you’re planting a tree or installing a mailbox, call 811 at least three days before starting your project to help ensure that you avoid underground utility lines when you dig. You can put yourself in serious danger by striking an underground electric or natural gas line.

You can see Darby and Boca’s winning ad on display at Energy Park throughout the duration of the Wisconsin State Fair. The ad also will be featured on the stadium TVs at Miller Park. For their efforts, Darby and Boca also earned a basket of goodies, including dog treats and special 811 flying discs.

Congratulations to Darby and Boca!