Thursday, December 13, 2018

Scouts energized by Electricity Merit Badge clinic

The We Energies Public Service Building in Milwaukee was energized with activity as the 65th annual We Energies Electricity Merit Badge clinic for area Boy Scouts was held on Dec. 8.

The day began with an electric safety presentation by Marko Lucchesi, a supervisor in our electric construction maintenance group. The demonstration used a smaller-scale model of a street with homes, businesses, cars and people to show how each might come into contact with power equipment.

As part of the discussion, Lucchesi picked up a hot dog with insulated tongs and explained the similarities it has to a human: “Both have water, salt and meat.” He then touched the hot dog to live wires. It cooked from the inside out within seconds, surprising the scouts and showing why it’s important to avoid electric wires and equipment.

Lucchesi also talked to the group about how our employees stay safe. He displayed and allowed the scouts to explore the safety equipment that line mechanics use on a daily basis.

Pat Stiff, our vice president of coal generation and biomass, and a member of the Boy Scouts of America Three Harbors Council executive board, talked about his own experience as a scout. Stiff said he carries the lessons he learned as a scout with him today. He told the scouts to have fun and learn, and to be thankful for their parents and the volunteers who helped them at the event.

As part of the requirements to earn the electricity merit badge, the scouts showed their knowledge by completing several hands-on demonstrations to our employees. Some of these demonstrations included making and operating an electromagnet, completing an electrical home safety inspection, and demonstrating how to respond to an electrical medical emergency.

A written exam further tested their knowledge and skills of how electricity works and how to be safe around it. Scouts were tested on electrical terms and proper first aid procedures for a person exposed to a live wire.

Finally, the scouts presented their findings from a pre-event project to our employees who volunteered at the clinic.

Ted Sniegowski, manager – power generation, summed up our 65-year commitment to this program: “The more we can help young people explore technology and science, the better prepared they will be for the future.”

The electricity merit badge is one of the original merit badges adopted by the Boy Scouts in 1911.

Monday, December 10, 2018

12 hints to keep your house safe and your costs down this holiday season

Unlike an Elf on the Shelf, we can’t watch over your home this holiday season, but we can give you some gifts. Here are 12 helpful hints to make sure your holidays are safe and your home is cozy.

Hint 1: Holiday treats in the oven? Peek using the oven light, because opening the door can cause your energy use and cooking time to rise.

Hint 2: It’s the most wonderful time of the year to inspect your lights. Look for broken or frayed wires, and broken or loose connections to avoid potential fires or shocks. If you find problems, replace and repair.

Hint 3: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow – but please remove snow and ice from meters because it can stress meter piping, causing a natural gas leak.

Hint 4: Make it the hap-happiest season of all by lowering your thermostat seven to 10 degrees from its normal setting, especially when you are asleep or away from home more than 8 hours, to save as much as 10 percent a year on heating costs.

Hint 5: It’s a clinker! Don’t let the blasted furnace make your holiday story bitter. Clean or replace air filters in your heating system.

Hint 6: Feeling frosty? Use a space heater safely by keeping wrapped gifts, tissue paper and draperies at least six feet away to reduce a fire risk.

Hint 7: Gathering faithful friends and family near to you for a holiday feast? Using a small pan or pot on a large burner can waste more than 40 percent of the heat being produced.

Hint 8: Nothing says the holidays like a tasty casserole. If you use glass or ceramic pans for baking, you can turn down the oven temperature by 25 degrees and your dish will cook just as quickly.

Hint 9: Roasting chestnuts in your oven? As long as the oven door remains closed, enough heat will be stored inside to finish cooking your meal for the last few minutes.

Hint 10: Did Mister Snow Miser create icicles above your meter? You better watch out! They can fall and damage meter piping. Dripping water can also re-freeze, causing extra weight to build up on the meter.

Hint 11: As you deck the halls for the holidays, use weatherstripping and caulk to seal gaps around windows, doors and siding, which will improve your energy efficiency and leave you feeling jolly.

Hint 12: Getting ready for a holiday feast? Check that the flame is blue on your natural gas range to safely prepare your holiday dishes. Make sure your range top is clean as well.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Be festive and frugal with holiday lighting

Whether you are creating an outdoor holiday lighting display rivaling the Griswolds’ in Christmas Vacation or just lighting a simple indoor tree, we want to help you do it safely and efficiently.


Inspection: Always inspect your lights each year. Look for broken or frayed wires, and broken or loose connections to avoid potential fires or shocks. If you find problems, replace or repair.

Weather: Wait for a dry day to install (and remove) electrically powered outdoor decorations.

LEDs: Switch to LEDs, not only for efficiency, but also for safety. You can use up to 25 strings connected end to end into one wall socket without overload. With incandescent strings, limit each socket to three strings.

Cords: Use extension cords rated for low temperature and outdoor use when setting up outside displays. Keep connections off the ground and hang sockets downward or seal connections to prevent water from getting in.

GFCI: For best protection, plug outdoor lights and decorations into outlets with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI).

Power lines: When decorating outdoors, look for power lines. Never throw a string of lights or other decorations into trees near power lines. Keep ladders, equipment and yourself at least 10 feet away.

More holiday electrical safety information:
Electric Safety Foundation


LEDs: Energy-saving LED lighting is much more efficient than old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. They also last much longer, have a lower temperature and resist breakage.

Timers: Put timers on your outdoor displays to automatically shut them off overnight.

Calculate: Learn about holiday lighting and decoration costs with our calculator.

Monday, December 3, 2018

We Energies Foundation and Discovery World create energy experience exhibit

Discovery World recently energized its new Power On exhibit, which allows visitors to explore the generation and transformation of energy and the impact it has on our world.

The We Energies Foundation partnered with Discovery World in developing the exhibit, contributing $2 million.

Power On, which opened in mid-October, consists of multiple interactive exhibits that enable guests to generate energy and explore some of the important energy concepts that permeate our everyday lives. In addition, Discovery World is developing a new STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and math), energy-focused educational curriculum with We Energies and other community partners to complement this engaging and fun permanent exhibit.

“The energy experience allows guests to engage in all kinds of physical activities that are connected to the most important topics and concepts around energy. This powerful, often unseen force will become better understood and appreciated through these highly interactive experiences,” said Discovery World President and CEO Joel Brennan. “Alongside our partners from We Energies, we’re excited to bring an exhibit to our community that demonstrates how humans have harnessed different types of energy through technological innovations, scientific discovery, and persistent curiosity about the world around us.”

Children and their families are able to touch lightning, explore how wind turbines work, discover how to meet the energy needs of a city, play with invisible light energy, experiment with gravitational potential energy, and a whole lot more. The energy experience is accessible and engaging for visitors of all ages and levels of learning from toddlers to grandparents. It also provides a unique experience for school groups and engages them directly with science experiments and activities to inspire a lifelong interest in STEM as well as the potential career opportunities associated with the energy industry.

“We are pleased and excited to partner with Discovery World to invite families and students to interact with the vital force that powers their daily lives. We’re hoping Power On inspires the next generation of engineers and innovators who will be integral to the success of our industry,” said Beth Straka, vice president of the We Energies Foundation and senior vice president – corporate communications and investor relations of WEC Energy Group, the holding company of We Energies.

Several of our employees consulted with Discovery World as various components of the exhibit were planned and developed.

Photo courtesy of Discovery World
Frank Dombrowski, one of our principal environmental consultants, said Discovery World’s staff made good use of our input and suggestions. “The final products not only turned out to be a fun experience for visitors but also technically accurate,” he said.

Kyle Hoops, our director of power generation support, echoed Dombrowski’s thoughts on the relationship we had with Discovery World in designing the Power On exhibit.

“Their staff was very professional and highly motivated to make an entertaining and fun exhibit, but they also wanted it to be factual,” he said. “They accurately depicted our business, and the result was a home run.”

Visit Discovery World’s website for more information:

Discovery World

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Our hallmark of reliability recognized again

In the dictionary, a hallmark is defined as a distinguishing characteristic, trait or feature. Reliability has become our hallmark. For the eighth year in a row, we have been named “Best in the Midwest” for reliability.

PA Consulting presents ReliabilityOneTM awards annually to energy companies that achieve outstanding reliability performance and excel in delivering the most reliable electric service to their customers.

“Our consecutive ReliabilityOneTM awards are a testament to the skill and dedication of our employees, and to the investments we’ve made to ensure reliable, efficient service for our customers,” said Kevin Fletcher, president – WEC Energy Group, parent company of We Energies.

Kevin Fletcher, president – WEC Energy Group, and 
Dave Megna, vice president – Wisconsin System Operations.
Our most recent award is the 11th in the past 13 years in the Midwest, one of six regions in the performance review. 

The review is based primarily on system reliability statistics measuring customer outage frequency and duration. Companies who perform well in those measures then undergo an on-site certification process for its policies, processes and systems related to reliability.

In recent years, we’ve made investments to strengthen our reliability by rebuilding hundreds of miles of our electric distribution network, including wires, poles and transformers. The result? Our outage restoration time was 50 percent better than the national average in 2017.

We’re happy to win the award again but more happy for our customers who rely on us for having power when they need it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Make your holiday cooking energy efficient

Cooking a holiday meal can be stressful not only on the chef but also the energy bill. Use these tips to help cook efficiently during the holidays.

  • Match pots and pans to burners. Using a small pan or pot on a bigger burner can waste more than 40 percent of the heat being produced. Using the smallest pot or pan possible on the proper sized burner not only takes less time to heat but also uses heat more efficiently. 
  • Use sturdy cookware. Cookware with warped bottoms can take up to 50 percent more energy. 
  • Thaw and chop. Two simple ways of reducing cooking time (and energy use) is to completely thaw your food before cooking and to chop vegetables and other food into smaller pieces. Turn on appliances after preparation is completed. 
  • Keep oven door shut. Rather than opening the door, use the oven light. Opening the door can drop the temperature 25 degrees, adding cooking time and energy use to get the heat back to the set temperature. 
  • Use small appliances. Crockpots or toaster ovens use energy better than conventional ovens for smaller dishes or meals. 
  • Cool down. Allow leftovers to cool before refrigerating to reduce the appliance’s work. 
  • Unplug. Most small appliances, such as toaster ovens and coffee makers, consume a small amount of energy even if turned off. When possible, unplug. 
  • Oven and microwave. Food spills and food waste absorb heat, adding to cooking time, so keep the inside clean. 
  • Dishwashers. Fully load your dishwasher because it uses the same amount of energy whether full or not. Avoid rinsing dishes before loading. Most dishwashers can handle crusted food. 
  • Washing machines. Use settings based on laundry load size to make more efficient use of both energy and water. Most detergents work well in cold water.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Manage energy costs and save money with efficiency tips

Looking for inexpensive and easy ways to keep your home comfortable this winter? Manage your energy costs and save money by using energy more efficiently with these tips:
  • Leave your thermostat’s fan switch on “auto” so the fan only runs when the furnace runs. Setting the fan to “on” will cause it to run all the time, whether or not heating is needed. 
  • Adjust your thermostat when you are asleep or away from home. You can save as much as 10 percent a year on heating by simply lowering your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees F from its normal setting for 8 hours a day. Recommended thermostat settings when you are home are 68 degrees F in winter.
  • Seasonal maintenance keeps equipment running safely and efficiently, which will save you money in the long run. Replacing your filter can help extend the life of your HVAC unit, improve air quality in your home and keep your energy costs down. 
  • Use shades, blinds and drapes to help while heating your home. Open them to let the sun’s natural heat warm your home. This not only helps you cut back on heating bills but also saves money on your lighting bills. Make it a habit.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Words of gratitude for 10th anniversary Stars and Stripes Honor Flight

We again partnered with Stars and Stripes Honor Flight to fly 145 veterans to Washington, D.C., Saturday, Nov. 3. The event welcomed three World War II veterans, seven Korean War veterans and 135 Vietnam War veterans. The day marked the 10th anniversary of the organization’s first flight. Stars and Stripes Honor Flight has flown over 6,000 WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans to tour Washington’s WWII Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Air Force Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and more.

We Energies employees served as volunteers on flight day.
Over the years, our participation in these flights has offered our employees the opportunities to serve as guardians for the veterans, be part of the volunteer crews on flight day, and write letters of thanks given to veterans on the return flight.

Two employee guardians on the Nov. 3 flight, Jessica Banike (U.S. Air Force and Wisconsin Air National Guard) and Elton Rushlau (U.S. Navy), are both veterans themselves.

Banike accompanied Willie Seales, a Vietnam veteran who served with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division. Rushlau accompanied two veterans, Mike Beres and Gregory Osborne. Both served in Vietnam for the U.S. Air Force.
Employee Jessica Banike and Vietnam veteran Willie Seales
at the Marine Corps War Memorial.
Seales, Beres and Osborne thoroughly enjoyed the experience and were very appreciative of everything that it took for their special day to happen. Seales pointed out that he received more words of gratitude for his service that day than he had received since he returned from Vietnam. 

Employee Elton Rushlau with Vietnam veterans Mike Beres and Gregory Osborne.
Honor Flight is a national program with more than 130 hubs from coast to coast. The WWII Memorial did not open until 2004, and many veterans are unable to visit Washington, D.C., without assistance. The average age of a WWII veteran is 93 years old, and only five years separate the average WWII veteran from the average Korean War veteran. Nationally, hubs in the Honor Flight network have taken well over 200,000 veterans to see their memorials.

Friday, November 9, 2018

We Energies named Veteran Friendly Workplace of the Year

We proudly support those who have served our country by fostering employment opportunities for military veterans, knowing that many possess the specialized skills and leadership abilities critical in providing safe and reliable energy. These efforts recently were recognized by USO Wisconsin when it named We Energies as the 2018 Veteran Friendly Workplace of the Year at their annual Heroes of Wisconsin Gala on Oct. 20.

USO Wisconsin award was presented to We Energies on Oct. 20.
“We were up against some very stiff competition, and our selection as the Veteran Friendly Workplace of the Year is a testament not only to the efforts the company has made to actively recruit veterans but also the support they receive once they are hired,” said Joe Griffin, manager – power generation support, who accepted the award on behalf of the company.

A veteran himself (he spent eight years as an MP in the Marines), Griffin also helps lead the company’s business resource groups that launched earlier this year. Called the Military Service Members Association (MSMA), the group supports employees who are veterans or currently serving in the National Guard or Reserves, and their family members.

MSMA’s mission is to:
  • Increase engagement and retention of employees who are either: 
    • Veterans 
    • Currently serving in the National Guard/Reserves 
    • Family members of the two previous categories 
  • Assist with the transition of veterans into civilian life and the company. 
  • Provide awareness for nonveteran employees regarding the numbers and diversity of our veterans and the valuable leadership skills gained as part of their military experience. 
“With Veterans Day approaching, we would like to thank our military service members and their families for the sacrifices they have made, and continue to make, in order to protect the freedoms we hold dear,” Griffin added.

Veterans and active military personnel interested in a career with a future are always encouraged to apply with We Energies.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Get ready for winter

Winter is a challenging time for energy usage and safety. Review these winter tips to stay comfortable without spending a lot of money and to stay safe throughout the winter months.

Energy-saving tips
Here are some ideas to save money on heating:
  • Open shades, blinds and drapes to gain the sun’s heat during the day and close them at night to help retain heat. 
  • Adjust your thermostat downward when asleep or away. You can save as much as 10 percent a year on heating by turning your thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit from its normal setting (about 68 F in winter) for 8 hours a day. 
  • Leave the thermostat’s fan switch on “auto” so the fan only runs when the furnace runs. Setting the fan to “on” causes it to run all the time (and use energy), whether or not heating is needed.
  • Turn your thermostat down to 55 F if using a fireplace. Older, wood-burning fireplaces tend to be inefficient and can be costly, drawing more heated air out of your home through the chimney than a fire can produce. So, turn the thermostat down when you cozy up in front of the fire. After the fire is out, close the flue damper to keep warm air in the house.
Energy safety
Staying safe around electricity and natural gas is important year round, but winter requires some special considerations:
  • Keep electric and natural gas meters as well as air vents clear of snow and ice. Use a broom or hands (not a shovel, salt or ice-melting chemical). 
  • If you smell natural gas, move away and call us at 800-261-5325 or call 911.
Energy assistance
If you have questions about payment options, call our payment assistance line at 800-842-4565. Many customers in Wisconsin qualify for help in paying energy bills. If you qualify, apply now for energy assistance for the winter heating season. Learn more:
Energy assistance

Power outage preparation
We work to maintain a reliable power delivery system, but severe weather and other events sometimes cause power outages that require many hours and even days to address. Be prepared and know what to do should a power outage occur:
Outage safety tips

Scammers claiming to be from an energy company may call or show up on your doorstep demanding money. Don't let a scammer ruin your holidays. Learn about these scammers and what to do:

Monday, October 29, 2018

A sweet read: Our annual Cookie Book is ready for release

Our annual Cookie Book is ready for release! This holiday favorite is available online and will be handed out at distribution events across Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula starting Oct. 30.

It has been 90 years since the first edition of the We Energies Cookie Book was printed. It was created as a gesture of goodwill by company home economists who hoped to encourage customers to use their new electric appliances. With that, a beloved tradition was born. To celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Cookie Book’s first edition, we asked customers to submit their favorite recipes from a past book and to share their cherished Cookie Book memories. The 2018 Cookie Book includes 37 recipes that could become family favorites for years to come.

Customer Sarah Lake from New Berlin shared her favorite recipe and fond Cookie Book memory. She chose Christmas Miniatures from the 1984 Cookie Book. The petite sugar cookie, which features a beautiful rose created with decorating frosting, can be found on Page 5 of this year’s book. 

“We kick off our cookie-baking season with a trip to get our Cookie Book. We always feature a new cookie from that year’s Cookie Book (and some from past years). I can’t wait to pass on the tradition to my kids someday,” said Lake. 

The Cookie Book helped inspire a future career for customer Sarah Hoots of Whitewater: “When I was growing up, my dad had the 1998 edition. I have so many favorites from the Cookie Book. Fifteen years later, I am now a professional baker.”

Hoots chose a recipe that even nonbakers can enjoy. Her Easy No-Bake Cookies that feature cocoa powder, peanut butter and oats can be found on Page 6.

The 2018 signature distribution events will take place Nov. 3 at both Miller Park in Milwaukee and Fox Cities/Timber Rattlers Stadium in Appleton. The events will start at 9 a.m. and conclude at 1 p.m. Come enjoy some hot cocoa, and don’t forget your camera to take pictures with Santa’s reindeer.

View the distribution schedule.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Coming soon: 2018 We Energies Cookie Book to be distributed near you

Hot off the press!

As the holidays approach, so does the completion of the 2018 Cookie Book. This year, the Cookie Book is celebrating its 90th anniversary of its first edition. For decades, these books have helped customers bake sweet treats to help celebrate the holidays.

Creating the Cookie Book is a year-long process. We gather recipes, test cookies, conduct photo shoots, print books and distribute them to customers. The books recently were printed and are now being bound and boxed for distribution – a two-week process.

The photos and video below capture various stages of producing the Cookie Book.

 Mark your calendars to pick up a copy of the 2018 edition. We’ll be distributing the Cookie Book to customers at locations throughout our service area, including signature events in Milwaukee and Appleton on Nov. 3. View the distribution schedule.

Decades of deliciousness

It has been 90 years since the first edition of the We Energies Cookie Book was printed. The first Cookie Book was created as a gesture of goodwill by company home economists who hoped to encourage customers to use their appliances. With that, a beloved tradition was born. 

To celebrate the Cookie Book’s 90th anniversary of the Cookie Books first edition, we asked customers to submit their favorite recipes from a past book and to share their cherished Cookie Book memories. The 2018 Cookie Book includes 37 recipes that could become family favorites for years to come.

If you’re curious to see how the Cookie Book has changed over the years, you’ll find more than 50 editions in our Cookie Book archive. The 2018 Cookie Book will be available to view and download on Oct. 30.

Mark your calendars to pick up a copy of the 2018 edition. We’ll be distributing the Cookie Book to customers at locations throughout our service area, including signature events in Milwaukee and Appleton on Nov. 3. View the distribution schedule.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Energy assistance now available

Customers now can apply for energy assistance for the upcoming heating season.

It is simple to make an appointment to apply for energy assistance. Visit the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) website at or call 866-432-8947.

Milwaukee County residents can apply for assistance in person at Community Advocates or United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS). Visit or call 414-270-4653 for more information.

WHEAP provides qualified residents with a one-time grant to help pay energy bills. Qualification is based on income level, not on whether someone is behind on paying their energy bills.

Households with income at or below 60% of the Wisconsin state median income may be eligible for WHEAP. For example, a family of four that earns up to $52,846 per year may qualify.

Applicants must provide:
  • Photo ID for applicant including name and address. 
  • Proof of income for all household members for previous three months. 
  • Social Security numbers and birthdates for everyone in the household. 
  • Current energy bill or account number. 
  • Phone number of landlord and rent certificate or statement (if applicant is a renter and heat is included in rent or a separate payment is made to the landlord). 
  • The prior year’s entire tax package for seasonal employees and self-employed persons. Rental income must be verified by taxes and Schedule E. 

WHEAP provides assistance to more than 200,000 Wisconsin families annually.

Customers with questions about their energy bills or payment options should call our payment assistance line at 800-842-4565.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

We Energies sponsors third year of China Lights

China Lights has returned for its third year at Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners. We are sponsoring the event once again as part of our commitment to supporting arts and culture in the communities we serve. Last year’s event sold out, attracting more than 100,000 visitors.

The gardens are illuminated by more than 40 handmade lantern sculptures, each assembled on-site by artisans from China. With the theme of Panda-Mania, this year’s festival features many new lanterns shaped like pandas, other endangered creatures and their environments. Visitors can take a walking tour through the displays, and children can swing and step on lights in a pair of interactive exhibits.

Two concession areas offer Asian and Western cuisine, and in the marketplace, vendors make and sell traditional Chinese handicrafts and gifts. A parade at about 6:15 p.m. every evening leads guests through the gardens. Following the parade, stages sponsored by our company host a variety of live performances, including spinning tops, Chinese string instruments, juggling, masked dances and martial arts demonstrations.

China Lights runs through Oct. 21 from 5:30 to 10 p.m. and is closed to the public on Mondays. Learn more about the event, including information on tickets and parking, at

Monday, October 1, 2018

We Energies Foundation backs sturgeon release

Nearly 1,000 young lake sturgeon were added to the Lake Michigan ecosystem Sept. 29 as part of Sturgeon Fest 2018. The sturgeon were tagged before release to provide information about their lifecycle as part of an ongoing effort to strengthen sturgeon population.

The prehistoric fish once numbered millions in Lake Michigan but were decimated through intense fishing. In recent years, sturgeon have been making a comeback, with a little help from some friends. The We Energies Foundation is a longtime supporter of the Riveredge Nature Center’s lake sturgeon reintroduction project and Sturgeon Fest.

Sturgeon Fest celebrates Riveredge Nature Center’s 25-year partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to bring the sturgeon back to the Milwaukee River, where they haven’t been seen for more than a century.

Lakeshore State Park in downtown Milwaukee was the scene for the Sturgeon Fest release, an annual event that also includes games and crafts for kids, educational booths and food trucks.

“Supporting this sturgeon initiative aligns directly with our foundation’s environment and education focus areas,” said Tom Jansen, a manager in WEC Energy Group’s Environmental department and a Riveredge board member, who attended the event. “The event improves the environment and helps raise awareness about this threatened species.” 

The We Energies Foundation’s environment focus supports environmental education, resource preservation and conservation programs that guide communities in its service area toward a sustainable future.

We Energies is a subsidiary of WEC Energy Group. 

Related links:

Sturgeon Fest attendees at Lake Shore State Park lined the park's banks to watch the sturgeon release.

One of the young sturgeon prior to release.

Nearly 1,000 young sturgeon were brought to the park for release in Lake Michigan.

Richard Gonzalez, a member of the Oneida Nation, Iroquois Confederation, Turtle Clan, 
conducted a blessing and released one of the sturgeon.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

We Energies to sell Solvay Coke site to Komatsu

In a joint arrangement among We Energies, the City of Milwaukee and Komatsu Mining Corp., 43 acres of the Milwaukee Solvay Coke site, owned by We Energies since 2017, is to be sold to Komatsu. The signing of a term sheet for the sale was announced at an on-site event co-hosted by the three parties Sept. 27, that was attended by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, as well as members of the Board of Harbor Commissioners, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and Milwaukee 7 (M7) regional development organization.

From left: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Kamatsu Mining CEO and President Jeffrey Dawes,
WEC Energy Group Chairman and CEO Gale Klappa, Milwaukee Development Corp. Treasurer Frank Krejci,
and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
At the event, Jeffrey Dawes, president and CEO of Komatsu Mining, announced the mining company’s plans to develop the property with a nearly $300 million investment in a new corporate headquarters and manufacturing campus. With a 134-year history in the city, Dawes described the importance of the project to the mining company’s long-term growth strategy.

WEC Energy Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gale Klappa, speaking on behalf of We Energies and the M7, added “Komatsu – a global industry leader – is making a major investment that will have a defining impact on Milwaukee’s future. And I’m particularly pleased that Komatsu has chosen to invest in the redevelopment of this area, adding another strong presence to the Harbor District.

“Today’s announcement also highlights how attractive our region is to global companies and the remarkable asset we have in our workforce,” Klappa continued. “Today is a shining example of what can be achieved when the public and private sectors work together for the common good. Go, Komatsu. And On Wisconsin!”
WEC Energy Group Chairman and CEO Gale Klappa
In addition to the new Komatsu facility, the sale supports the city’s development of approximately 2 acres of the site for a planned riverwalk nearby and provides for public access to the waterfront.

The site, which had been used for a variety of industrial processes, such as coke and manufactured gas production, as well as coal and coke storage since the late 1880s, was put up for sale by its previous owner in 2016. As one of several past tenants identified as responsible for remediation of the site, We Energies purchased the property and worked jointly with the Environmental Protection Agency and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to remove and recycle tens of thousands of tons of debris from the property, including rubber, asphalt, steel and crushed concrete.

We Energies will continue to remediate the site through 2019. Completion of the sale is anticipated in 2020.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Ellie spreads safe digging message on 8-11 day

Ellie, who was voted top dog in our recent safe digging contest, is spreading an important message for 8-11 day, a day devoted to raising awareness about calling 811 before digging projects. Ellie's new promotional ad will be featured on electronic billboards around the Milwaukee area on 8-11 day.

In addition to having their dog featured in our ad, Ellie’s family also received tickets to the Wisconsin State Fair where they can see Ellie’s promotional material on display at Energy Park. If you stop by Energy Park, you can get your picture taken with an Ellie cut-out to help spread the message about safe digging. 

Ellie's cut-out at Energy Park
Whether you’re planting a tree, installing fence posts or doing digging for other reasons, you could be putting yourself in danger if you strike an underground natural gas or electric line. Doggone it! Call 811 before you dig. A utility locating service will come out to mark locations of underground utilities on your property for free. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Ellie becomes new canine safe digging ambassador

Ellie, a 4-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier/Whippet mix, from Waukesha, Wisconsin, was voted top dog in our contest to find a new canine safe digging ambassador. She will help spread an important message about safe digging in a new promotional ad:

Customers sent about 100 photos of dogs digging in their yards. After paring down the entries to 10 finalists, we conducted a public vote on Facebook. More than 1,400 people voted. Ellie garnered the most votes, followed closely by Tucker, of Appleton. Congratulations to all of our finalists, and thank you to all who participated.

Runner-up Tucker
In addition to having their dog featured in our ad, Ellie’s family also received tickets to the Wisconsin State Fair where they can see Ellie’s promotional material on display at Energy Park. If you stop by Energy Park, you can get your picture taken with an Ellie cut-out to help spread the message about safe digging. 
Ellie's cut-out at Energy Park
Ellie also will be sharing her important message on We Energies’ Facebook and Twitter channels. On Aug. 11, her ad will be featured on digital billboards in the Milwaukee area for 8-11 day, which raises awareness about safe digging. Remember, 811 is the number to call at least three days before you dig. A utility locating service will come out to mark locations of underground utilities on your property for free. 

Whether you’re planting a tree, installing fence posts or doing digging for other reasons, you could be putting yourself in danger if you strike an underground natural gas or electric line. Doggone it! Call 811 before you dig.

More information about working safely in your yard

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Employee’s ’unbearable’ experience goes viral

Imagine waking in the middle of the night to find a bear trapped at your house.

“It was around 1 a.m. on June 20, and my wife and I heard this sound like, ‘Ma! Ma!’” recalled Steve Sickler, an expediting clerk at our service center in Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin.

Sickler followed the sound to a construction project at his Eagle River home. Inside the foundation for a new sun room, he found a stranded bear cub.

“I always knew we had bears in the area, but never saw one near our home until that night.”  

The cub had fallen into the foundation and was frantically calling to its mother. Eager to avoid a confrontation with the adult bear, Sickler wisely stayed inside and called 911. The Vilas County Sheriff’s Department dispatched a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) warden to the site. 

While waiting for the warden to arrive, Sickler and his wife watched the distraught mother bear pacing back and forth outside their home for over an hour. Meanwhile, the mom’s two other cubs were waiting in a nearby tree.

Sickler had a hunch the cub may climb up a ladder, if he could lower one into the foundation. When the DNR warden arrived, they agreed on the game plan. Within seconds of lowering the ladder, the cub climbed to the top. 

“This was a million to one thing. I’ll never see anything like this again.”

The rescue, which was captured on video, has since gone viral. Sickler has seen it picked up by news sites in England, Australia, India, Iran and Israel. Here in the U.S., stations in Texas, Florida, California and many more have posted the video. And, of course, Wisconsin media outlets have been especially interested. Stations in Rhinelander and Wausau interviewed the Sicklers.

“It blows me away. We finally get our 15 minutes of fame. Well, this is well beyond 15 minutes.”

Link to WJFW story

Link to WSAW story

Monday, June 25, 2018

Introducing the falcon ‘Class of 2018’

The peregrine falcon nesting season has drawn to a close at our power plants. This season, we saw 16 chicks born at our facilities. 

Hatchlings at four of our five sites have fledged, leaving empty nest boxes behind. Chicks remain at only one site, Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette, Michigan. Dan and Tim likely will be leaving the nest box within a couple weeks. Watch them while you can on our live webcam feed at

With the addition of this year’s chicks, the total number of peregrines born at We Energies power plants stands at more than 270. Nearly 20 percent of Wisconsin’s peregrine population has come from our company’s nesting sites.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

We Energies employees test augmented reality equipment

We Energies has been participating in a large-scale experiment to see how augmented reality could fit into the energy industry to enable a more efficient and safer work environment in the future. The study is sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and is conducted by Marquette University.
Marquette University Graduate Research Assistant, Ashley Toll
 and We Energies Plant Operator, Kevin Gyurina prepare to test equipment.
Augmented reality is a technology that overlays a user’s view of the physical world with digital objects and information. Energy company employees could use augmented reality headsets to access data, history, procedures and maps of power plants and electric distribution equipment while on site.

Over the past year, power plant operators tested wearable technology for ergonomics. The test looked at four major concerns of using this hardware for workers in the energy industry:
  • Neck and shoulder effects because of added weight to helmet 
  • Eye health 
  • Movement and balance
  • Situational awareness 
Study results may influence developers of augmented reality equipment.

We Energies Plant Operator, Eric Zakszewki wears
augmented reality gear for testing at the power plant
During a recent test of the equipment at the Elm Road Generating Station, Randy Scheck, plant central scheduler, said, “By participating in this testing, we can help advance technology and be prepared for possible future implementation.”

This EPRI study is one of many that We Energies has participated in over the past 20 years. One highlight noted by Marquette Professor Richard Marklin, who facilitates the research projects, was a study that led more electric energy companies to change from manual tools to battery-powered tools to cut cables. We Energies employees were the test subjects for that influential study.

“We Energies is really regarded as very progressive and is one of the leaders of safety and health across the industry. One piece of evidence of that is that We Energies adopted early on battery-powered tools,” said Marklin. “I sleep well at night knowing the work and studies we’ve done with We Energies have reduced the risk of injuries to workers.”

EPRI recently presented special recognition to Power Generation and Field Operations for their service to ergonomics studies.

Eric Bauman, EPRI senior technical leader and program manager, stated, “This award is presented to We Energies for over 20 years of priceless in-kind support to advance the science, engineering and practical applications of ergonomics research conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute to improve the health, safety and quality of life for the dedicated workers in the electric utility industry and their families.”

The recognition was presented to Pat Stiff, vice president – coal and biomass, and Vern Peterson, vice president – Wisconsin field operations.

“These studies really have an impact on our employees. Because of this tremendous partnership, employees are out there working safer, their careers may be longer, and they may enjoy retirement a lot more because they may be without the aches and the pains,” said Peterson.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

National honor for company’s contributions in Puerto Rico

We’ve received special recognition for our crews’ contributions to the unprecedented power restoration effort in Puerto Rico earlier this year. Our industry trade group, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), honored us with an Emergency Assistance Award at a ceremony in San Diego June 5.
From Left: Bill Mastoris, vice president - supply chain;
Dave Megna, vice president - Wisconsin system operations;
Kevin Fletcher, president - Wisconsin utilities; 
Kim Higginbotham, We Energies line mechanic;
Chris Fernandez, WPS lead line journeyman.
We Energies, along with our sister company Wisconsin Public Service (WPS), sent more than 70 employees to Puerto Rico in January. They joined crews from nearly 60 other electric companies in what would become our company’s longest restoration mission to date. The majority of our employees spent eight weeks restoring power in Puerto Rico.

“We could not be more proud of our employees for dedicating two months of their lives to this humanitarian mission,” said Gale Klappa, our chairman and CEO. “This was an unprecedented effort for us, sending crews and equipment outside the continental United States for the first time in our company’s history.”

Aside from the awards ceremony, EEI organized a recognition event for Puerto Rico restoration workers at a San Diego Padres game. Line workers from dozens of utilities, including We Energies’ Kim Higginbotham and WPS’ Chris Fernandez, lined the field for the first pitch.

Fernandez and Higginbotham, at far right, honored on the field at Petco Park. 
“The power restoration effort in Puerto Rico was a massive and unprecedented mission, and electric companies from across the country, including WEC Energy Group, responded to the call for help,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “The electric power industry pulled together with one goal in mind, to restore power to the people of Puerto Rico. It truly was one team, one mission. WEC Energy Group is deserving of this recognition for providing tremendous support to PREPA and our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.”

A bird's-eye view at Petco Park in San Diego June 4.
On May 22, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) announced that power had been restored across the island to 99 percent of its customers who could receive electricity. This was a significant milestone that was reached by PREPA and its restoration partners, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its contractors, and industry mutual assistance crews.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Peregrine falcon program will continue to soar in Kenosha County, thanks to Ardent Mills

Peregrine falcons have been living at our Pleasant Prairie Power Plant for more than 20 years. In fact, the plant played a critical role in Wisconsin’s peregrine falcon recovery effort. In 1991, it became one of the first nest box sites in the state, and the following year, 15 captive-produced peregrines were released there. A total of 66 falcons have since been born at the site, more than any of our other power plant nest boxes.

Windsor, CJ, Lisa and Rimfire
Monday’s falcon banding at the now-retired power plant was bittersweet for our peregrine manager and founder of the state’s peregrine recovery effort, Greg Septon. After 22 annual banding visits to the plant, this was his last. The nest box will be closed later this summer due to the plant’s decommissioning. But Septon’s work in Kenosha County will continue, thanks to a new partner offering an alternative home to the falcons.

Earlier this spring, Pat Hicks, plant manager at Ardent Mills, was reading an article in the Kenosha News, which mentioned the need for a new nest box site. Hicks immediately thought his company, a commercial flour producer, would be a perfect match. Ardent’s Kenosha facility is just a couple miles from the power plant and more than 100 feet tall, offering the height that peregrines love. Hicks called us and offered the location for a nest box for peregrine falcons next year. 

Employee Lisa Rivera, holding the chick she named Lisa, 
with Pat Hicks, holding Windsor.
On Monday, Hicks got a first-hand look at the program he’s inheriting. He visited the power plant to see four peregrine chicks get their wildlife bands, and he even got to name one – Windsor, a reference to the hype over the recent royal wedding. Windsor, a male, joined brother Rimfire, and sisters, Lisa and CJ, for a group picture, the last falcon family photo at the plant.

The new nest box will be installed at Ardent Mills this summer. After it’s in place, the box at the power plant will be closed, forcing the resident falcons to look for a new home. The hope is they’ll easily find the new option a couple miles to the east. Septon has negotiated moves like this successfully in the past and is optimistic that at this time next year, he’ll be in Kenosha County banding chicks again – but this time at Ardent Mills.

From left: Dave Groshek (holding CJ), Lisa Rivera (holding Lisa),
Pat Hicks (holding Windsor) and Greg Septon (holding Rimfire).

Friday, May 18, 2018

Honor Flights provide an emotional experience for veterans and volunteers

Two Stars and Stripes Honor Flights on Saturday, May 5, carried 156 veterans and their guardians to Washington, D.C., to visit memorials dedicated to U.S. service members. The flights were sponsored by We Energies and included the support of employees who wrote letters and volunteered for the event.

“We are so grateful for the incredible support of WEC Energy Group employees who wrote almost 200 letters for our veterans’ mail call packages, and for the We Energies employees who were up before dawn and late into the evening assisting our veterans at the airport,” said Karyn Roelke, vice president – Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. “Several We Energies employees even spent the entire day accompanying a veteran on the flight, giving those veterans a day they will never forget.”

Saluting the veterans

The day started early as 15 We Energies volunteers arrived at General Mitchell International Airport before 4 a.m. They helped with a variety of assignments, including welcoming veterans and escorting veterans and their guardians to the gate.

We Energies volunteers at the airport on May 5.
In Washington, the veterans and guardians visited eight memorials: Vietnam Veterans Memorial, World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Pentagon Memorial, Air Force Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and Tomb of the Unknown Solider, where they witnessed the changing of the guard ceremony.

“I was moved by the respect that everyone had for the veterans – thanking them for their service at every stop. What impressed me the most were the young adults and kids that recognized the veterans, shook their hands, hugged them and thanked them over and over again,” said Dave Megna, vice president – Wisconsin system operations, who was one of the guardians from We Energies.

Another guardian from We Energies, Jason Cleaver, senior IT applications consultant, added, “One moment during the trip that really showed how much the veterans were appreciated was at the Vietnam Memorial. There was a class from Mequon that formed a line, and as we walked by, all of the students, faculty and parents thanked the vets for their service.”

“It was an honor to have been the guardian for not only one, but two, female Vietnam War-era veterans,” said Erin Ganzenmuller, environmental consultant – land quality. “One served in the Navy and the other in the Air Force. Of the 156 veterans on the two Honor Flights, only three were women. As a veteran myself, it was especially humbling to accompany them on their journey.” 

Employee Erin Granzenmuller with two Vietnam War-era veterans. 
Added another guardian from We Energies, Brian Roush, outage planner/scheduler – power generation, “As a veteran myself, I was very thankful to have the opportunity to give back to our older veterans as a sign of appreciation and respect. And since the veterans I was accompanying needed a guest guardian, they were thankful for me volunteering to help them. As a result, we all said ‘thank you’ a bunch to each other.”

The veterans – the majority of whom served in Vietnam – received a heroes’ welcome upon arrival in Milwaukee with a homecoming parade in the concourse.

“I was briefed about the homecoming parade at the guardian training, so I thought I was ready. I was wrong,” Cleaver said. “When we made it past the main terminal, there was a wall of people cheering, holding banners and waving American flags.”

Friday, May 11, 2018

20 years as a Tree Line USA award-winner

We Energies earned the Tree Line USA award for the 20th consecutive year from the Arbor Day Foundation.

Tree Line USA is a national program recognizing energy companies for practices that protect and enhance America’s urban forests. This program is a collaboration of the Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters.

The company earned the award by meeting program standards, such as sponsoring tree-plantings and public education programs, maintaining a tree-based energy conservation program, and helping communities and citizens choose appropriate trees to plant near energy lines.

We Energies foresters with the Tree Line USA flag.
“Your commitment to proper tree-care benefits your customers in numerous ways, including providing cleaner air and water, increasing property values and improving quality-of-life. Trees also conserve energy and reduce peak demand, a crucial benefit to customers,” wrote Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation.

The award was presented to our forestry department by Kim Sebastian, regional urban forestry coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“You are being honored for high-quality tree care. You’re inspiring others with the work you do,” said Sebastian. “The human health connection of your work with trees is a benefit to our communities.”

Visit our website to learn about tree trimming safety and conservation landscaping, and always remember to call 811 before you dig.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Falcon chicks have arrived!

Baby falcons have arrived at four of our power plant nest boxes. Fluffy white chicks are visible on the webcams at our Pleasant Prairie, Oak Creek, Port Washington and Valley Power Plant sites.

Here’s a progress report from each site:
  • Valley Power Plant, Milwaukee: Three out of four eggs have hatched 
  • Pleasant Prairie Power Plant: All four eggs have hatched 
  • Port Washington Generating Station: Two out of five eggs have hatched 
  • Oak Creek Power Plant: Two out of three have hatched 
  • Presque Isle Power Plant, Marquette, Michigan: Four eggs present 
If every egg hatches, it will be a banner year for We Energies’ peregrine falcon program with 20 chicks. That would put the company’s total at well over 250 since 1997. Here's a link to our webcams:

Peregrine falcons remain listed as endangered in Wisconsin after their near extinction from widespread pesticide use in the 1960s. Today, Wisconsin has more than 30 successful nesting sites across the state.

Friday, April 20, 2018

We Energies protects wood turtles

Sunday, April 22, is Earth Day, and we’re celebrating by highlighting some of our environmental initiatives.

Sometimes, we encounter threatened and endangered species during our construction projects. The projects could include building a new natural gas line or installing new power lines. We need to be aware of the animals in our project zones.

Wood turtles are listed as a threatened species in Wisconsin. They prefer to nest in sand banks near rivers and streams, but they also are known to nest along roadsides, fields and gravel pits.

When we have a project that has the potential to disturb wood turtle habitat, we collaborate with the Department of Natural Resources to ensure we are taking all appropriate measures to avoid any impacts to the habitats. These measures include conducting surveys in advance of our projects to ensure our equipment will not come in contact with the turtles. We also have installed exclusion fencing to prevent the turtles from entering our work zones, and we directionally drill to bore underneath turtle habitat to prevent disruption.

As part of our protection and conservation of wood turtles, we assist Turtles For Tomorrow, a conservation program dedicated to habitat management and landowner education about rare reptiles and amphibians in Wisconsin. We have assisted with restoration of several nest sites near our hydroelectric facilities, as well as provided funding for a camera-monitoring and site-management project that will aid in monitoring nest predation, vandalism and hatching success.

Saving Karner blue butterflies

Wisconsin is home to the largest remaining population of Karner blue butterflies in the world. They are a federally endangered species due to their loss of habitat.

We Energies worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to develop and implement the Karner Blue Butterfly Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). This plan establishes a formal working process to conduct business operations for constructing and maintaining utility lines while maintaining, restoring and creating habitats for the Karner blues.

The HCP is unique in the country. From a utility standpoint, much of the work that occurs along utility corridors results in temporary disturbances to the Karner blue’s natural habitat.

Wild lupine is a perennial plant in the pea family with beautiful pink and blue flowers. This plant is essential to the survival of Karner blues, as it is the only food they eat as larvae. Without lupine, Karner blues are incapable of reproducing. Utility construction and maintenance projects remove brush along corridors, allowing lupine to grow and thrive.

The Karner Blue Butterfly HCP is working so well that it is now focused on recovery of the Karner blue butterfly population in Wisconsin. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the listed status of the species to “threatened,” or even delisted from federal protected status altogether.

In 2015, We Energies restored more than 50 acres of habitat in the heart of the Karner blue range during the construction of the West-Central Lateral, a natural gas pipeline in Western Wisconsin. Early monitoring and management of this area is indicating restoration is a success. Karner blues have been documented to be thriving in the restored habitat in just a couple of years following initial restoration.