Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Peregrine falcons lay first eggs of the season

It's a little early for Easter, but we found our first eggs! Eurus laid her first egg overnight at the Oak Creek Power Plant, and an unbanded female laid her first egg this morning at Valley Power Plant.

We’re hoping for a few more eggs over the next week, so make sure to watch our live cameras closely. We’ll also post updates on Twitter and Facebook.

We Energies is part of a statewide effort to restore the peregrine falcon population. The DNR added the bird of prey to Wisconsin’s endangered species list in the 1970s. Since the company’s first successful nest box in 1997, 273 peregrines have hatched at We Energies facilities.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Familiar falcons return to power plants

It's a sure sign of spring. Love is in bloom at We Energies power plants. Some fan-favorite peregrine falcons have returned to roost, and introductions are in order thanks to our partners at Wisconsin Public Service.

Oak Creek Power Plant

Michael and Eurus are back at the Oak Creek nest box. Michael hatched in 2015 at the Racine County Courthouse nest site. This will be his third year at Oak Creek and second year he’s mated with Eurus. She hatched at a nest site in Green Bay in 2016. 

Valley Power Plant

Hercules and his mysterious mate have returned to Milwaukee. Hercules hatched at St. Joseph’s hospital in Milwaukee in 2011. This will be his sixth year at the Valley nest box. We don’t know much about his lady bird, because she is unbanded. Banding occurs when scientists attach a small, individually numbered tag to a bird’s leg to help track its movements. Our falcon expert, Greg Septon, believes this is the same female who’s been present at Valley since 2015.

Port Washington Generating Station

Beasley and Brinn are back at Port Washington. This is Brinn’s sixth year at the generating station nest box and Beasley’s third. Beasley hatched in 2014 in Wauwatosa. Brinn comes all the way from Split Rock State Park in Minnesota, where she hatched in 2012.

Weston Power Plant

Thanks to our partners at Wisconsin Public Service (WPS), this is our first year tracking the falcons at Weston Power Plant just south of Wausau. Sheldon and Rosalee have both been spotted there. Sheldon has nested at Weston for five years. He hatched in 2013 in Oshkosh. His mate, Rosalee, has been nesting at Weston since 2015. She hatched in Madison in 2014.

Wisconsin Public Service Building

A new nest box has been installed at the WPS building in Green Bay. You may have noticed a pheasant wing is attached to the perch to attract falcons to the nest box. Falcons have recently been observed in the area, and it is likely just a matter of time before they locate their new home.

The first eggs should be laid later this month. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates, and catch the action for yourself on our live cameras.

Last spring, 17 falcon chicks were produced, named and banded at We Energies power plants.

More information

2018 We Energies hatchlings

WPS falcon program

Friday, March 15, 2019

Keep your family safe by clearing snow and ice away from meters and vents

In the past few weeks, we received numerous reports from customers in western and central Wisconsin of damaged natural gas meters and blocked vents from snow and ice.

Damage to natural gas meters can cause dangerous gas leaks, and blocked vents can trap carbon monoxide indoors, causing a deadly threat to you and your family. Keeping the meter clear mitigates these risks and ensures that we can get to it quickly in an emergency.

If your roof has snow on it, beware. Melting snow can slide off your roof and onto your natural gas meter. Remove any snow buildup on your roof to prevent this from happening.

Ice fell from the roof of this home in
Richland Center damaging the natural gas meter

Icicles pose another problem. When it’s mild, they start dripping. A wet gas meter isn’t a problem, but a ice covered one is – and that’s what happens when the temperature drops.

“We are receiving 10 or more reports a day of damaged meters and natural gas leaks in the past week. These incidents sometimes led to some evacuations,” said Matthew Murphy, operations manager for We Energies.

Communities such as Montello, Wautoma, Wisconsin Rapids, Sparta, Marshfield, Owen, Rice Lake, Amery, Elmwood and many more have reported issues.

To avoid problems:

· Remove icicles that may drip water onto the meter.

· Avoid kicking or hitting the meter to break away built-up snow or ice.

· Use a broom to gently brush snow off the meter.

· Always shovel away from the meter.

· Take care when using a snow thrower or plow near your meter.

If you smell a natural gas odor, leave the house immediately and call our natural gas emergency number at 800-261-5325 from a nearby phone.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Trust your gut: Don’t fall for scam phone calls

“You owe more than $3,000.” Those words are enough to strike fear in anyone’s heart. Luckily, We Energies customer Terri Dreikosen knew exactly what to do when she heard them: hang up the phone.

Driekosen got the call Wednesday morning. “WE ENERGIES” showed up on the caller ID, and the number had a 262 area code. When she answered, a recorded voice told her to “remain on the line for an important message about your account.” But the “important message” that followed wasn’t really from We Energies. It was all a scam.

Usually, the crooks claim customers are behind on their bills and face disconnection unless an immediate payment is made with a pre-paid debit card or Green Dot card. In this case, they told Driekosen she qualified for a lower interest rate on her outstanding bills. But she knew she didn’t owe any money and hung up before they could con her.

That’s exactly what you should do too. If you get a call that sounds suspicious, trust your gut and hang up. We will never threaten you or ask you to pay us with a pre-paid card. If you’re unsure, call our Customer Care Center at 800-242-9137. They’ll help you verify if the call you received was a scam, check the status of your account and verify your payment history.

In March alone, customers have alerted us to about 75 scam calls. Luckily, none of them have fallen victim.

Unfortunately, these types of calls are a nationwide problem. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) regularly receives complaints from across the country about utility scams. If you lose money because of any scam, be sure to report the crime to local law enforcement.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Line mechanics climb U.S. Bank building in 25 lbs of gear

Climbing 1,034 stairs to the top of the U.S. Bank Center building in workout gear is hard enough. Imagine doing it in steel-toe boots and line mechanic gear!

For the first time ever, our employees donned 25 pounds of pole climbing gear and tackled the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb in Milwaukee. The annual event raises money and awareness in the fight against lung disease.

The Power Up pole climber team finished in first place.

The Weapons of Mass Development pole climber team came in second place.
This year, the event also helped raise awareness of our line mechanics— the men and women who maintain the electrical system and battle the elements to restore power during storms.

Inspired by firefighters who complete the climb in full gear, two teams of line mechanics competed against each other wearing steel-toe boots, hard hats, fire-resistant clothing, line mechanic gloves and, most important, climbing belts complete with wrenches, hammers and pliers.

Before the climb, Dave Harris, team leader and operations manager, talked to TMJ4 about his preparations. Watch the video below to see which piece of equipment he was most worried about slowing him down.

In the end, the Power Up Pole Climbing team edged out Harris’ Weapons of Mass Development team. Despite the extra weight, the top three climbers all finished in less than 11 minutes.

We Energies employees take on the Fight for Air Climb without gear.
A third team of our employees and their loved ones had it a little easier. Twenty-seven of them took part in the climb without all the gear. The three teams helped raise more than $7,000—making We Energies one of the top three companies to take part.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Celebrating International Women's Day

On this International Women’s Day we are recognizing the many outstanding and talented female employees at our company. Check out our twitter thread highlighting just a few of the 1,500 women who help keep your lights on and energy flowing.