Friday, March 31, 2017

Cookie Crumbs: Hit it out of the park with Roberto’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

We Energies Cookie Book recipes are perfect for celebrations of all kinds. No matter the occasion, you’ll find a recipe that’s just right.

The chocolate chip cookie was invented in Massachusetts in the 1930s, making it truly an American classic – and a great dessert to pair with our national pastime. The Milwaukee Brewers opening day is coming up on April 3, after all, and your game day party or tailgate will be all the sweeter with a platter of Roberto’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. This particular recipe has a unique claim to fame: It was submitted to us by Brewers owner Mark Attanasio and his wife, Debbie.

The Attanasios contributed to our 2016 Cookie Book, the Wisconsin Heritage edition, which featured recipes from many notable names in Wisconsin entertainment, culture, business and industry. Among them are recipes from Admirals owner Harris Turer and Bucks head coach Jason Kidd, so you can celebrate Milwaukee teams with crowd-pleasing cookies year-round.

Roberto’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars; beat in eggs and vanilla. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes. Cool on wire cooling racks. Makes about four dozen.

Need more baking inspiration? Our Cookie Book archive has recipes dating back to the 1930s. Go online and find your new favorite today!

Gov. Walker proclaims April 2-8 Dam Safety Awareness Week

In recognition of Dam Safety Awareness Week (April 2-8, 2017) as proclaimed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, We Energies strongly urges recreational and fishing enthusiasts to be safe around dams and hydroelectric facilities.

The week's purpose is to emphasize the importance of safety near dams and on waterways to help prevent accidents. Most accidents at dams can be prevented by simply staying away from restricted areas and learning about the dangers associated with dams.

Safety precautions include:
  • Obey all warning signs.
  • Heed horns or sirens.
  • Be aware of rapidly changing water conditions.
  • Practice safe boating and swimming.
  • Bring a cell phone and contact 911 in an emergency. 
  • Wear a personal flotation device (PFD), a life jacket. 
  • Always stay outside buoy lines and away from restricted areas near dams. 
  • Always have a safe escape route planned when near a dam. Be prepared to evacuate at the first sign of danger. 
We Energies operates 13 hydroelectric facilities in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

We Energies hydroelectric system

Thursday, March 30, 2017

MSOE students use We Energies fly ash in concrete canoes

Hearing the words “concrete canoe” you worry it might not float. But these boats are expertly crafted by engineering students to be buoyant. The students put a lot of trust – and hard work – in their craftsmanship. And with a little help from fly ash from We Energies power plants, they are making innovations in concrete use that have implications beyond the canoe competition.

All dry materials are pre-mixed so the team can just add water and liquid admixtures to create concrete. The orange bucket [bottom right] contains We Energies fly ash. 

Holly Denfeld is one of these students. She’s a senior at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), pursuing Bachelor of Science degrees in architectural engineering and construction management. And she’s the co-captain of MSOE’s American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Concrete Canoe team.

“I got involved right away my freshman year of college,” she said. The next year, the MSOE team placed 14th out of 18 teams. In 2016, they placed fourth. This year, they have their sights set on nationals, which would require being one of the top two teams in the region.

Canoes are judged at the regional and national levels. The Great Lakes Region has 19 teams with 18 participating in this Friday’s competition at Veterans Park in Milwaukee. The judging is split into four equally weighted quarters: canoe workmanship and aesthetics, overall racing scores, an academic paper submission that includes technical documentation, and a formal oral presentation overviewing the entire process.

“Since I’ve been involved, we have always gotten materials from We Energies, which is really helpful and really great,” Denfeld said. She praised fly ash for its use in this project, as well as others. “We have reached out to We Energies specifically for fly ash. Fly ash in concrete mixes – not just in the concrete canoe process but in the industry in general – as a substitute for some of the portland cement, reduces the density of the mix.” She added, “Finding the ideal balance between fly ash and portland cement was something we did a lot of experimentation on this year.”

This year, MSOE’s team named their canoe “Hathi,” which means elephant in Hindi. Elephants represent power, strength, longevity, knowledge and happiness, and are considered lucky, especially when depicted with their trunks up, Denfeld explained. “Our team values these things,” she said, “and we wanted to be backed by happiness and a little bit of luck.”

Spectators are welcome at this weekend’s ASCE Great Lakes Student Conference. Denfeld and the MSOE team will present Hathi for the workmanship and aesthetics portion of their score starting at 8 a.m. on March 31, with races to follow at 10 a.m. and other ASCE events at Veterans Park until 3 p.m. The formal presentation will take place at MSOE’s Grohmann Towers on Saturday, April 1.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Let We Energies be part of your outdoor excursions

One of We Energies’ guiding principles is to practice responsible environmental stewardship of all properties and natural resources entrusted to our management. When possible, we provide access to outdoor recreation in these areas so that others in the community may enjoy them.

Wilderness Shores recreation area

Enjoy a variety of summertime activities including hiking, camping, fishing, bird watching, canoeing and kayaking at Wilderness Shores recreation area, 23,000 acres surrounding our 12 hydroelectric plants in northeast Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It was developed by Wisconsin Electric Power Co. (part of We Energies) in conjunction with state and federal natural resource agencies to preserve the high biodiversity and geographical treasures along the Brule, Menominee, Michigamme, Paint and Pine rivers, where hydroelectric dams provide reliable, renewable energy.

The area includes more than 30 recreation spots and over two dozen boat launches, as well as numerous points for fishing access. More than 90 wilderness camping sites, open from late spring to early fall, are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Hunting, ice fishing and cross‑country skiing are options in the off-season. And because half the area is land and half is water – both essential habitat requirements for eagles and their young – Wilderness Shores currently is home to about two dozen bald eagle pairs.

For more information, including camping rules, call 906-779-2519 or visit our website:

Wilderness Shores recreation area

Oak Creek Power Plant pier

In the southeastern part of the state, the Oak Creek Power Plant fishing pier is available for anglers looking to cast their lines. It’s a good spot to catch coho and chinook salmon, and brown, rainbow and lake trout, among other types of fish. It’s believed they are attracted to the change in water current and slight increase in water temperature there.

While on private We Energies property, the pier extends into Lake Michigan and is open to the public during daylight hours March 15 to Nov. 15, weather permitting. Picnic tables, trash bins and access to a nearby public beach also are available. Swimming, boat launching and fires are not allowed, but walkers and their dogs may enjoy the beach.

Because the pier is subject to closure at any time due to poor weather conditions, Lake-Link is a good resource to check before taking up your tackle. The plant’s maintenance planner uses Lake-Link’s Oak Creek Power Plant pier forum to update fishing enthusiasts on the pier’s status and closures.

To access the pier, take East Oakwood Road from South Howell Avenue, turn onto Fishing Pier Road and then take North Bowl Road to park.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Employee takes spin on WH_ _L OF FORT_ N _

Lisa Hutchins on Wheel of Fortune.
Lisa Hutchins, an executive assistant at We Energies, has a bucket list, which included an item for guessing vowels and consonants. She recently checked that one off her list as she participated as a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune.”

Since she was a young girl, watching daily with her grandma, Hutchins always wanted to be on the show. She began pursuing that dream of spinning the wheel by auditioning as often as she could, spending much of her time following the “Wheelmobile,” a recreational vehicle that travels across the country, holding auditions at various public venues. Hutchins would get on the road whenever the Wheelmobile was in the Midwest.

Nearly 20 years ago, the Wheelmobile came to Wisconsin State Fair Park, where Hutchins made the final group of 20 out of nearly 2,000 who auditioned, but didn’t make the cut for the show. Last summer, she auditioned in Chicago and finally received the break she had pursued for so long: She was invited to Los Angeles for a show taping in February. She isn’t allowed to share details before the show airs, so she will be joined by family and friends to watch the episode Tuesday night. She says that her grandma is “super pumped” to watch this particular episode together.

Feeling vindicated by accomplishing this long-standing goal, Hutchins said, “If you hold on to your dream long enough, it will come true.”

Wheel of Fortune ranks as the longest-running syndicated game show in the United States. To see if Hutchins “Fortune” comes in, watch any local CBS affiliate at 6:30 p.m. CST on Tuesday, March 21.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Employees climb 47 floors in Fight for Air Climb

A team of nearly 20 We Energies employees climbed 1,034 stairs to the top of Milwaukee’s U.S. Bank Center Saturday in the Fight for Air Climb. The Fight for Air Climb is an annual fundraising event for the American Lung Association in its fight against lung disease.

This was the second year that We Energies participated in the event. Together, team members raised more than $3,300 for the American Lung Association. The We Energies Foundation also contributed $1,500 to the cause. 

“This is the second year I’ve done the climb,” said Kevin Fletcher, president – We Energies. “It’s challenging, but it’s also a rewarding way to help a very worthy cause.”

The Lung Association provides support and education for those living with asthma, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“I was really out of breath after climbing 47 floors,” said Cathy Schulze, We Energies team captain. “But it helped me appreciate the challenges of those living with lung diseases like asthma.”

Three team members participated in the “Ultimate Climb,” scaling the stairs as many times as possible in one hour.

Some employees’ friends and family members also joined the We Energies team.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cookie Crumbs: Go green and get nutty for St. Patrick’s Day

We Energies Cookie Book recipes are perfect for celebrations of all kinds. No matter the occasion, you’ll find a recipe that’s just right.

Like the 90 million or so American revelers who aren’t Irish but plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day anyway, there’s nothing Irish about these cookies except they bear the color of the Emerald Isle – and that’s OK! On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone – and everything – can be a wee bit Irish, and these Pistachio Thumbprints add the right amount of nuttiness and indulgence to the celebration.

Originally submitted by John Bergstrom, chairman and CEO of Bergstrom Automotive and a member of the WEC Energy Group board of directors, for the 2016 Cookie Book, this recipe has three parts (just like a shamrock!).

Pistachio Thumbprints

1 cup butter, softened

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ teaspoon almond extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 (3.4-ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix

½ cup miniature chocolate chips

1 cup pecans, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and extracts; beat until combined. In separate bowl, combine flour and pudding mix; add to butter mixture; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in pecans. Place on greased cookie sheets; press down center of ball with finger or end of wooden spoon. Bake at 350 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes. Cool on wire cooling racks. Spoon Filling into middle of cooled cookies. Drizzle with Glaze. Makes about 4 dozen.


2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-3 tablespoons milk

In medium bowl, beat powdered sugar, butter and vanilla; gradually add milk until of desired consistency.


½ cup miniature chocolate chips

2 teaspoons shortening

In microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and shortening; microwave for 1 minute at 20-second intervals, stirring after each until chocolate is melted. Stir until smooth.

Need more baking inspiration? Our Cookie Book archive has recipes dating back to the 1930s. Go online and find your new favorite today!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Weather delayed fishing pier opening

The winter storm that passed through southeastern Wisconsin this week delayed the opening of the Oak Creek Power Plant fishing pier. The pier, which extends into Lake Michigan, usually opens March 15.

Safety is the No. 1 priority of We Energies, we consistently monitor the pier to determine its safeness for the public. Weather permitting, it will remain open during daylight hours through Nov. 15.

Al Kunda, maintenance planner at the We Energies Oak Creek plant, uses Lake-Link’s Oak Creek Power Plant pier forum to update fishing enthusiasts on the pier’s status and closures. He notes the pier is subject to closures “at any time due to poor weather conditions, early snowfalls in fall, late snowfalls in spring and extreme high surf due to strong easterly winds,” making Lake-Link a good resource to check before taking up your tackle.

While on private We Energies property, the pier is open to the public for fishing and provides picnic tables, trash bins and access to a nearby public beach. Swimming, boat launching and fires are not allowed, but the beach welcomes walkers and dogs.

The Oak Creek Power Plant pier is a good spot to catch coho and chinook salmon, and brown, rainbow and lake trout, among other types of fish. The fish are attracted to the change in water current and the slightly elevated temperature of the water discharging from the power plant. On a clear day, fish can be seen swimming in the plant’s discharge channel.

Although we can’t promise a good catch, we can provide a scenic space to try your luck.

To access the pier, take East Oakwood Road from South Howell Avenue, turn onto Fishing Pier Road and then take North Bowl Road to park.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Love is in the air at our falcon nest boxes

Hercules and his mate
Falcon activity is picking up with several familiar names spotted at our power plant nest boxes.

Hercules is back at our Valley Power Plant in Milwaukee. This is his fourth year at Valley. An unbanded female has been seen in the nest box as well, likely the same female as last year according to our peregrine manager, Greg Septon. Septon says the pair was present at the plant most of the winter. 

Eclipse has been spotted at our Oak Creek Power Plant, returning for her seventh year. She has nested with Scott since 2006, but Scott (who would be 17 years old now) hasn’t been seen this season. A new male, Michael, has been frequenting the nest box at Oak Creek. He was born in 2015 at the Racine County Courthouse. 
Michael at Oak Creek
Brinn is back at our Port Washington Generating Station. This is her fourth year at our Port Washington nest box. So far, Septon hasn’t seen a male falcon enter the picture. 

Brinn at Port Washington
PBR again is hanging out at our Pleasant Prairie Power Plant. His mate is an unbanded female, likely the same female as last year. 
PBR at Pleasant Prairie
And Maya Angelou, is back at our Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette, Michigan.

Septon suspects that we may see a new record early date for egg laying. If so, he expects to see the first activity at our Pleasant Prairie Power Plant. Stay tuned. You’ll again be able to follow all the action through our live webcams. We’ll be launching them later this spring.

Learn more about our peregrine falcons

Employees encourage a love of reading

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child,” according to the National Education Association, the organization behind Read Across America Day – a national holiday celebrated in schools all over the country.

Twelve We Energies employees took this to heart and spent the morning of March 2 – Dr. Seuss’s birthday – reading to students at West Ridge Elementary in Racine.

West Ridge has been celebrating Seuss’s birthday all week with special activities, dress-up days and even a birthday cake in his honor. Bringing in We Energies volunteers was a big part of this celebration, explained Julianna Mielcarek, a reading teacher at the school.

“It’s important to get books in our students’ hands. And if they can’t get books at home, they can definitely get books at school through events like this,” she explained, wearing a large “Cat in the Hat”-style hat as she coordinated the morning’s activities.

Dave Megna helped first-grade students re-create 
the animal they'd read about.
West Ridge Elementary was grateful to have a We Energies connection. Candy Zicarelli, senior training consultant – gas operations, has both a sister and a granddaughter who are teachers at West Ridge. Zicarelli volunteered in order to share her love of reading with kids. “It’s good when kids can read and have someone read to them. This has been a really good opportunity, and I’m glad I was able to do it,” she said.

Dawn Dresen’s first-grade class listened as Dave Megna, vice president – Wisconsin system operations and customer operations, read “Put Me in the Zoo.” The students complimented his “storyteller voice,” something they are learning to develop in Dresen’s class. After some clever guesses as to the kind of animal featured in the story – ranging from leopard to dog to bear to fox – the students cut out yellow animal faces and covered them with spots. With their masterpieces completed, they started on a math skills worksheet that involved counting up those colorful spots. Megna and Joan Gilson, specialist – electric operations, encouraged the students and helped them with these tasks. “It’s a fun activity to be able to give back to the community and be part of Dr. Seuss’s 113th birthday,” Megna said.
Joan Gilson and a class of third-graders played with Oobleck.
The volunteers also assisted with coloring, drawing zoo animals, critical thinking and writing, math and mapmaking. Each activity paired with a Dr. Seuss book the classes read. For example, the class that read “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” played with some Oobleck – a slime-like substance – of their own. Third-grade students who read “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” wrote about the places they hope to go in the future.

Volunteers represented We Energies in their orange shirts.
Teachers and volunteers alike noted that reading is fundamental to the students’ futures and were excited to celebrate its importance.