Monday, July 31, 2017

And the winner is…

It was a “ruff” competition, but the winner of our Safe Digging contest is: Charlie!

Charlie's winning picture.
Charlie’s picture earned the most votes in our online contest where more than 2,000 votes were cast. 

Charlie, a Goldendoodle, captured the majority – 17 percent. Charlie’s owners, Breanne and Jeff Beyer of Kaukauna, Wisconsin, tell us Charlie is about 5 months old and loves to get into mischief and dig in the yard.

“Jeff is a landscape foreman, so we have a lot of landscaping to tempt him,” Breanne said. 

Jeff’s job also means the family is very familiar with calling 811, making Charlie a “qualified” canine safety ambassador. 

“Jeff is obviously familiar with calling Diggers Hotline before working,” Breanne said. 

Our new canine safety ambassador, Charlie.
Stay tuned for Charlie’s Safe Digging ad, which will be unveiled at Energy Park at the Wisconsin State Fair on Aug. 11 (8-11) ‒ a day to raise awareness about dialing 811 three days before you dig.

Charlie will help us spread an important safety message: Doggone it! Call Diggers Hotline (811) before you dig. 

Charlie also will get a basket of doggy treats. Congrats to Charlie and the Beyer family and thanks to all the pet owners who submitted photos in our contest. Our first runner up, BW, also "dug up" a lot of votes. 

Runner-up, BW.
Safe digging tips

Friday, July 21, 2017

Cookie Crumbs: Cheer on Festa Italiana with sesame seed 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.

July 21 marks the beginning of Festa Italiana. The first ethnic festival launched in Milwaukee and the largest Italian-American event of its kind, Festa Italiana is now celebrating its 40th anniversary. Visitors this weekend will enjoy delicious Italian cuisine, traditional games and dances, music, historical exhibits and more. Italian cooking can help you get into the Festa spirit at any time of year.

With a blend of savory and sweet flavors, these Italian sesame seed cookies are a wonderful complement to a cappuccino. The recipe was submitted to us by Giacomo Fallucca, president and CEO of Palermo’s Pizza, who calls Milwaukee home. Fallucca contributed to our 2016 Cookie Book, the Wisconsin Heritage edition, which featured recipes from many notable names in Wisconsin entertainment, culture, business and industry.

Italian Sesame Seed Cookies
Italian Sesame Seed Cookie

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon anise extract, divided
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sesame seeds
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla and 1/8 teaspoon anise extract; mix well. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture; mix well. Shape small amounts of dough into 1/2-inch logs; cut into 2-inch-long pieces. Place sesame seeds in shallow bowl. In separate shallow bowl, combine milk and 1/8 teaspoon anise extract. Roll pieces in milk mixture, then coat in sesame seeds. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 425 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on wire cooling racks. Makes about 7 dozen.

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Employees, foundation aid Burlington-area residents

In the wake of last week's flooding in the Burlington, Wisconsin, area, We Energies employees participated in two multi-agency resource center events this week to aid customers affected by the flooding. In addition, the We Energies Foundation made a $10,000 donation to the local American Red Cross chapter to aid in the agency's efforts to provide shelter and other goods and services to those displaced by the flooding.

Last week's flooding caused severe damage to a We Energies substation in Burlington that left numerous customers without power until mobile transformers could be brought in and energized. The substation was repaired earlier this week and returned to normal operation on July 18.

Burlington-area residents had the opportunity to seek information and assistance from Red Cross workers (in vests) and We Energies employees, such as Ron Bormann (far left), Robbin Bankhead and Phyllis Eckles of Customer Service and Operations, at two multi-agency resource center events held earlier this week to address issues residents may be facing in the wake of severe flooding in the region.

Resource centers were established at Burlington High School in Racine County on July 18 and at Riverview Elementary School in Kenosha County on July 19. At the events, employees addressed inquires about having service restored after work was completed, possible bill extensions due to additional expenses customers are facing and assistance in purchasing new appliances. Employees provided 211 information as an additional resource for social service needs and weatherization information for income-qualifying customers.

A We Energies Foundation donation to the local chapter of the American Red Cross contributed to the following goods and services, as reported by the agency: 
  • 2 shelters
  • 3 bulk distribution sites
  • 353 meals served
  • 1,415 snacks served
  • 1,611 cleanup kits distributed
  • 3,336 bulk items distributed (bleach, masks, heavy-duty brooms, etc.)
  • 162 volunteers and staff assisting on operation
  • 29 vehicles deployed, including 13 chapter-owned vehicles and 4 emergency response vehicles
  • 101 cases opened to provide one-on-one support to families
  • 261 people served through casework
  • 14 disaster health contacts
  • 137 disaster mental health contacts
A Red Cross representative thanked We Energies for the foundation gift and provided an update on their efforts:
"I want to thank all of you for the kind donation to support our disaster operation in southeast Wisconsin the past few days. It looks like it will continue this week. We should be able to close one shelter tomorrow and just leave one open. We have delivered thousands of clean up kits and items. Two semi-trailers are in our parking lot as a lot of supplies have arrived for the operation. This will continue this week and our casework will continue for many weeks." 

11 finalists unveiled in 811 contest

We asked for pictures of digging dogs, and you delivered. Our Safe Digging contest fetched dozens of entries. It was “ruff” narrowing down the list of finalists, but nearly a dozen dogs made the cut:

Now, “paws” to vote for your favorite. The winner will be featured in our Safe Digging campaign, including a grand unveiling at Energy Park at the Wisconsin State Fair.

The winner will help us spread an important safety message: Doggone it! Call 811 before you dig.

Finalists, don’t “fur-get” to tell family and friends to vote by 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 30. The winner will be announced the following day. Good luck and thank you to all who submitted photos.

Safe digging tips

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Burlington substation repairs completed ahead of schedule

We thank our customers in Burlington for their patience during repairs to our substation, and we’re happy to report the station is already back online. Fortunately, our repair work was seamless – we did not have to de-energize our system during repairs, and customers wouldn’t have noticed any changes in their service.

Crews were able to complete very complicated repairs to the substation, which was submerged in more than two feet of flood water last week, in just three days – much sooner than initially anticipated.

Before and after pictures of our substation in Burlington.

While substation repairs were being completed, Burlington customers had electricity served through mobile transformers. Though no longer necessary, the mobile units remain on site until the nearby Fox River recedes further. 

Getting the substation back on line was no small task. We had more than 50 employees dedicated to the effort. They had to replace damaged equipment and perform dozens of switching operations in our distribution network.

Unlike the light switches at your home, the switches at our substation are connected to multiple wires so we can reroute power when necessary. These redundancies are built into our system to minimize the impact of outages.

Crews had to perform more than 30 intricate switching operations to connect customers to the mobile transformers. After repairs, they had to perform all those operations again to reconnect customers to the substation. To minimize stress to our system during this delicate process, some of our larger industrial customers in the area agreed to curtail their electric use temporarily.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Burlington power restoration continues after flood

We continue to work toward a solution that should safely restore power to customers in Burlington and surrounding areas. According to the National Weather Service, multiple rounds of heavy rainfall resulted in flash flooding Wednesday in Walworth, Racine and Kenosha counties. Burlington experienced widespread flooding.

Floodwaters knocked out power from our electrical substation in Burlington. Initially, 25,000 customers lost power after our substation was knocked out. We re-routed power to get as many customers back in service as possible. We now are working to get power back to the remaining 4,000 customers who are without service.

On Thursday, we brought mobile transformers to the affected area to essentially replace the substation. Installation of these units is a complex process and changes the way power is delivered to customers. When the units are operational, we anticipate restoration to happen in stages. Our goal remains to get power back to all homes and businesses Friday afternoon.

The water has begun to recede from our substation, which takes electricity from high-voltage transmission wires to a lower voltage for customers. When flooded, the substation could not deliver electricity to the wires serving customers. The water in the substation damaged equipment that must be repaired or replaced. We are assessing the damage and working to clean up and repair the substation as quickly and safely as possible.

We continue to advise extreme caution in flooded basements. If your home is flooded, call 800-662-4797 to disconnect power and natural gas service. To be safe, always assume that basement flood water is energized. Walking through a wet or flooded basement can be dangerous. Never walk through a flooded basement until the electricity is disconnected. Even a small amount of water on a basement floor can put you at risk for electrocution. While electricity is needed to run the sump pumps and wet/dry vacuums that help remove water from a basement, the risk of electrical shock is high. Safety experts suggest using a generator to power your sump pump or wet/dry vacuum instead. Generators also come with safety concerns, so learn about generator safety before operating one, and never run extension cords through water.

Our website also has more information on outage safety.

Burlington substation flooded.
Crews are working around the clock in Burlington. 

Mobile transformer arrives in Burlington Thursday.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

K’s for a Cause supports veterans through the We Energies Foundation

It’s baseball season! This year, We Energies and the Milwaukee Brewers are working together to support local veterans through a program called K’s for a Cause. For every strikeout, or “K,” thrown by Brewers pitchers at Miller Park, the We Energies Foundation contributes $25 to Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative (MHVI).

“We’re so glad to have two great organizations supporting us in We Energies and the Milwaukee Brewers,” said Kirsten Sobieski, executive director of MHVI. “They are pillars of the community, and it’s great to see them help us and help the veterans.”

Sobieski is a veteran herself, having spent 10 years with the Army and Army Reserves, including two on active duty. She also orchestrates a program within MHVI, the Women Veterans Initiative (WOVIN), which helps female veterans learn more about opportunities available to them through veterans’ organizations.

“The We Energies Foundation is pleased to support Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative as they work to help homeless and at-risk veterans in our community reach and maintain their highest levels of independence,” said Beth Straka, senior vice president – corporate communications and investor relations, WEC Energy Group, and vice president, We Energies Foundation. “We look forward to a winning Brewers season and a successful K’s for a Cause promotion.”

Individual game and season-long strikeouts will be tracked on Miller Park’s new K meter – an 80-foot digital sign, located in right field.

The donations made through K’s for a Cause will go to the MHVI emergency fund. Sobieski indicated that the donations support everything from keeping veterans in financial crisis from becoming homeless to putting gas in the MHVI delivery trucks. “Without government money, we rely heavily on these types of donations to make sure we can do all the things that we do without anything falling through the cracks,” said Sobieski.

Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative

Monday, July 10, 2017

Cookie Book sneak peek

For our customers, the Cookie Book is a holiday tradition. For us, it’s a year-round effort! Monday was our photo shoot for the 2017 book, and we have some delicious images to share with you.

Food photographer Grace Natoli Sheldon arranges
cookies during Cookie Book photo shoot.
This year’s edition celebrates those who grow and produce products made right here in Wisconsin. From cranberries to honey to cherries – and even beer and cheese – many Wisconsin products are featured in the 31 recipes that make up this year’s book.

The complete distribution schedule will be available Aug. 3, but signature events already are set for Saturday, Nov. 4, at Miller Park in Milwaukee and Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton.

Since its inception nearly 90 years ago, the Cookie Book has remained a favorite of holiday bakers. Visit our recipe page for past books, videos and more.

We Energies recipes

Friday, July 7, 2017

Cookie Crumbs: Celebrate National Sugar Cookie Day July 9

We Energies Cookie Book recipes are perfect for celebrations of all kinds – including National Sugar Cookie Day, which happens to be July 9. Sugar cookies have been featured many times since we started producing Cookie Books back in 1928. Here are a couple of recipes – one from an early book book and one from last year.

Our 1932 book featured this recipe:

Our 2016 book featured this one:

Mother’s Sugar Cookies 
3 cups all-purpose flour 
2 teaspoons cream of tartar 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
3/4 teaspoon salt 
1 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces 
2 eggs 
1 cup granulated sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
Coarse or colored sugar, optional 

In mixing bowl, combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Add cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. In medium bowl, whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla; mix into flour mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On floured surface or cloth, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with 2-1/2-inch cookie cutters; place on ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with coarse or colored sugar, if desired. Bake at 375 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes. Cool on wire cooling racks. Makes about 3 dozen.

So, not much has changed concerning sugar cookies in more than 80 years of appearances in our cookie books. The ingredients are about the same – and how much people love them.

Need some baking inspiration? Our Cookie Book archive has recipes dating back to the 1930s. Check it out today. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Search begins for new canine safety ambassador

Does your dog dig holes in the yard? Instead of scolding Fido, grab a camera!

We’re looking for a new canine safety ambassador to star in our safe digging campaign. Your dog can help us spread an important safety message: Doggone it! Call Diggers Hotline (811) before you dig. 

Whether you’re planting a tree or installing a fence post, you could be putting yourself in danger if you strike an underground natural gas line or electrical cable. Now, your furry friend can help us raise awareness about safe digging.

If your pet makes the cut, his/her picture will be featured in We Energies promotional material – including a grand unveiling at Energy Park at the Wisconsin State Fair.

The ad featured here shows the winners of last year’s campaign, Darby and Boca. A similar ad will be developed with this year’s winner.

  • One photo of dog digging
  • One entry (photo) per person with your name and address, and dog’s name 
  • Must be We Energies customer
  • Must be available to attend unveiling at Wisconsin State Fair on Friday, Aug. 11 at noon with your dog (tickets will be provided)
  • Photo quality of at least 150 dpi – .jpg or .tiff format preferred
Submit photo entries by midnight July 16 to Photo will be used on our social media channels and may be used by media outlets as well.

We’ll narrow down the entries to a list of finalists for a public vote. The winner will be unveiled in a ceremony at Energy Park on Aug. 11 (8-11), a day to raise awareness about dialing 811 to have utility facilities marked before digging.

The winner will receive tickets to the Wisconsin State Fair, a prize basket of treats for their famous furry friend and bragging rights about their canine’s cameo at Energy Park.

Good luck!