Friday, February 15, 2019

Unique program helps students explore careers in energy

On any given day Khari Pleas-Carnie isn’t sure what adventures he will find at his job. One day he might be climbing a power pole at the training center and the next helping to restore power to an entire apartment complex. What makes Khari’s experience all the more impressive is that he is an 18-year-old senior at Milwaukee’s Bradley Tech High School.

“Being chosen as an intern here at We Energies has been a life-changing experience for me,” Khari said.

Milwaukee Public School students participate in a program
that introduces them to careers in energy. 
Khari is one of a group of high school students taking part in two unique internship and apprenticeship programs offered by We Energies and Milwaukee Public Schools. They’re designed to help high school students explore career options in energy. All of the students work full time during their summers, and some even work part-time during the school year, earning both a paycheck and college credits.

“It has been a great pleasure for us to work with MPS to develop this program, and see the students succeed and the skill sets they develop over the course of their time with us,” said Tom Metcalfe, president – We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service.

Electric field internship

Students in the electric field internship get hands-on experience working with the tools and equipment that line technicians use on a daily basis. Over the course of the first month, the students are educated on safety, construction materials and basic electric theory. For the rest of the summer, they are partnered with We Energies electric operations crews to gain hands-on experience performing work in the field.

“Working with the crews this summer was like working with a family who encourages you to be the best you can be out in the field,” said Khari.

Design youth apprenticeship program

The design youth apprenticeship program gives students a two-year opportunity to learn in an office setting. The students design construction prints, and then visit the job sites to see how their designs are being implemented. The program also allows students to earn up to 12 college credits that will transfer to Milwaukee Area Technical College once they graduate.

Recently, some of our interns and apprentices had the chance to show off their skills in front of an impressive audience. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman, State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor, MATC President Dr. Vicki Martin and Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley visited a We Energies training center to see the programs in action.  

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes speaks with students that
demonstrated their newly acquired skills.
Instructors set up and supervised stations where students demonstrated their newly acquired skills and answered questions from the special guests.

“When people have these career pathways, it helps them, because they have something to look forward to. So I’m excited about the opportunities that have been presented today and I’m hoping that we can work to expand these types of programs,” said Lt. Gov. Barnes.

Our youngest employees also are excited. Alejandro Tello, a senior at Ronald Reagan High School and a design youth apprentice, told the lieutenant governor he jumped at the opportunity to work for We Energies.

“To be able to work at a Fortune 500 company is absolutely amazing,” Alejandro said. “People in their 30s are dying to have a job like this, and at the age of 17, I feel like I hit the jackpot!” 

MPS student Alejandro Tello shared
advice with his peers to work hard in life.
Before his first day, Alejandro got some advice from his dad. “He told me, ‘Alejandro, puedes obtener todo lo que quieres en la vida e si trabajares los más duro.’ In English, that means ‘If you work hard enough you can get anything you want in life.’ That will stick with me for the rest of my life.”

Excellent advice, Alejandro.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Cold weather was no match for We Energies

When the polar vortex hit Wisconsin on Jan. 29, the state practically shut down. From the closing of school and government buildings to the unthinkable – the stoppage of beer deliveries – the historic cold put a freeze on people’s lives. However, through the subzero temperatures, we kept life moving along and our customers warm by providing critical energy to our more than 2 million customers across the state.

The bitter cold did produce some unique challenges to our equipment, which caused scattered power outages. But our workers braved the weather and worked safely and quickly to restore power to customers.

The hard work was recognized by our customers on social media. A video of one crew restoring power has garnered more than 2,500 likes and loves, and thanks flooded in on Facebook and Twitter, with one person writing:
"Thank you to the true heroes that braved the cold so we could have power again!"

The national media also picked up on the work of our crews. The Washington Post talked to a customer in West Allis who had his power restored:
“I was amazed how fast they got it back,” said Dan Bark, whose house sits diagonally across from the damaged power lines. “We were trying to figure out contingency plans.”
Not seen by the public, but also important in keeping the heat on in the cold, are the hundreds of other We Energies workers who keep the power generation going and the gas and steam flowing.

Thank you to all the utility workers across the state and region who kept us all warm.