A look back: Flipping the switch on history
Cecil Colstad held a career as a meter tester and meter man with Wisconsin Power & Light for 40 years! He retired in 1987, but his legacy continues.
Cecil had gathered a large collection of electric meters, including one that dates back to the early 1900s. He passed away in 2017, and his family wanted to make sure that the items were placed in a good, permanent home. Thanks to the Dodge County Historical Society Museum, many locals can embrace the history of Cecil’s work and hobby. When his family donated the collection, it became the base for the museum’s “When Electricity Came to Beaver Dam” exhibit. It’s now a proud part of the museum’s permanent collection.
We’re honored to share in this deep sense of community and history from one of our retirees and his family.
For information about this picture and the rest of the story, check out this article written in a recent Daily Citizen issue. You can visit this exhibit at the Beaver Dam museum. Details are listed at the bottom of the article.
Dogs rule! See the video
Then check out our 2020 Corporate Responsibility Report
Last year, we hired goats. This year, we hired dogs. We’re using Detection Dog Teams at our Whispering Willow Wind Farm to help us do avian surveys. It’s one story of many that’s included in our Corporate Responsibility Report (CRR).
The new report highlights all aspects of our Environmental, Social and Governance programs. It includes a new aspiration for Alliant Energy to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2050 from electricity we generate and a new goal of eliminating all coal from our generation fleet by 2040.
These goals are part of our Clean Energy Vision, which is highlighted in the report. The CRR also features information on our COVID-19 pandemic response and our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
A look back: Opportunities are just an internship away
Our company has a long-standing belief in its people, from interns to employees to retirees. The highlight of this story was about looking for fresh ideas and enthusiasm in a time of change. The 1960s’ creative approach is still in line with our Values today.
This picture features former Electrical Engineer E.C. Kriesel and Vern Sandusky, a summer intern from Iowa State University. They were studying layout drawings of a substation – an example of using creative approaches to challenging assignments.
This story was featured in a booklet titled “Where Challenge Creates Opportunity.” There is no date on it, so the best guess is that it’s from the 1960s.
M.L. Kapp Generating Station implosion
Check out this video getting thousands of views on social media! On July 10, crews safely imploded the M.L. Kapp Generating Station in Clinton, Iowa.
An implosion provides a safer and more cost-effective way to clear the property. More than 99% of the materials from the remaining structures will either be reused on site or recycled.
The facility was put into service in 1947.
“Our employees did a tremendous job maintaining and operating M.L. Kapp Generating Station for decades on behalf of our customers. As we move to a cleaner energy future, we’re using new technology to produce electricity in more cost-effective ways,” said Terry Kouba, Senior Vice President.
As we move toward cleaner energy, our focus is on a diverse generation mix. This includes the Marshalltown Generating Station, a 706-megawatt natural gas-fired facility that is one of the most efficient natural gas power plants in the nation.
It complements our wind and solar investments, which can power nearly 600,000 Iowa homes annually.
Alliant Energy Cedar Lake announcement
Exciting project to improve life in the community and support economic growth
ConnectCR is a step closer to connecting two former Alliant Energy landmarks in Cedar Rapids to a new leg of the Cedar Valley Nature trail. On June 25, they’re announcing they’ve passed a significant milestone in their fundraising goals. We’re excited about the role we played in reaching this point and how it will Make things better for the community.
The project connects Cedar Lake in downtown Cedar Rapids to the future Smokestack Bridge pedestrian trail over the Cedar River. It helps create a healthier community by improving the Cedar Valley Nature Trail and its connection to two national, coast-to-coast trails!
We created Cedar Lake as part of the former Sixth Street Generating Station, which was irreparably damaged in the 2008 flood. We agreed with ConnectCR’s vision for Cedar Lake, so we sold it to the city for $1 last year.
CRANDIC sold the future site of the Smokestack Bridge for a buck, too. The bridge will connect the existing trail from Cedar Lake to trails on the other side of the Cedar River.
Our Alliant Energy Foundation also made a significant contribution. The project aligns with their four focus areas: Helping families, education, environment and community.
Out of appreciation for their donation, ConnectCR is renaming the lake Alliant Energy Cedar Lake.
Living our Values
We also see the project as a way to Act for tomorrow to grow our customer base.
This recreational attraction, and Cedar Rapids’ work to become more pedestrian and bike friendly, can be a big deciding factor when choosing a place to live.
“Projects like this add to the already great quality of life that Cedar Rapids offers, attracting more business development and people to our community,” said Diane Cooke, Vice President – Human Resources. “It’s an exciting offering for Cedar Rapids and its residents.”
We are proud to partner with ConnectCR and the Friends of Cedar Lake.
FDA issues warning for nine hand sanitizers
Products to avoid and how to store hand sanitizer in the summer
Washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy during the COVID pandemic. If you don’t have access to soap and water, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is a good alternative.
If you’ve purchased hand sanitizer for your personal use, please be aware of a recent warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about a company that has used methanol in their products.
"Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects," according to the FDA, which identified the following products manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV that contain methanol:
- All-Clean Hand Sanitizer
- Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol
- Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer
- The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol
- Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer
“Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol should seek immediate treatment, which is critical for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning,” added the FDA.
Our company has not purchased any of the listed products.
While the FDA has recommended Eskbichem remove its products from the market, that action has not yet been taken. So it is important to be mindful of the hand sanitizer products you purchase.
Storing sanitizer safely in the summer
As summer heats up, if you take hand sanitizer along with you in the car, do not store it in direct sunlight. There have been stories of hand sanitizer causing a fire when left in a car, although the chances of that are extremely unlikely.
A bigger concern is direct sunlight and heat breaking down the ingredients, making the sanitizer less effective. If you put a bottle in the car, keep it out of the sun, and avoid leaving it in there all day long on a warm day.
When to replace it
When in the bottle, an effective hand sanitizer should look pretty thin and move around the bottle easily. It should also dry quickly when it’s on your hands. If hand sanitizer becomes thick and takes longer to dry than it used to, you should replace it.
A look back: Gone fishin'
Fish stories were told here, and pictures made them true. The WP&Lers (as they were termed in this feature) were quite the lucky anglers.
Winnie Benjamin, former janitor at the Tomah office, caught this muskie while fishing in the Minocqua area. He had to fight it out of the water for 30 minutes, but it was well worth the effort when it turned out to be the largest muskie landed in the area during that week. It was a 17-pound, 12- ounce muskie, measuring 42.5 inches.
Just in time for summer, let’s see what fishing tales our current employees will tell.
This story was featured in the October 1962 edition of Employee News, the news magazine for employees of Wisconsin Power and Light Company.
How diversity was discussed in the 1980s
The year was 1989. The topic was diversity. This seems like an appropriate time to talk about how our company has celebrated differences over the years. There was a seven-page article written about how we don’t expect employees to fit a particular mold in the corporate world.
Here are some quotes from the 1980s that are worth repeating:
- “Right now and in the future, our differences will increase our strength. The diversity enriches us.” – Jim Bindl, former Director of Human Resource Planning
- "We must look deeper into people to see their potential and the strengths their diversity might bring.” – Phil Crawford, former District Manager, Dane County
- “We should celebrate the differences in each other. Diversity is what makes life interesting … . We should welcome diversity, cherish it and promote it.” – LuAnn Killeen, former Vice President – Information Services
- “We lose when we point fingers and isolate ourselves from those who are different.” – Willie Collins, former Director of Internal Audits
- “It’s a business challenge, but yet a clear necessity, that we create a positive atmosphere for diversity within the company – an atmosphere in which we can help all employees develop to their fullest potential, regardless of their age, sex, race or cultural differences.” – Erroll Davis, former President and Chief Executive Officer
The moral of the story was that diversity is crucial to a successful future for our company and customers. It was true then and is true now. We've made progress on this journey and know we still have more work to do as a company and society.
This story was featured in the summer 1989 edition of Concepts, the publication for employees of Wisconsin Power and Light Company.
COVID-19 information for retirees and customers
A look back: Sci fi movie from 1965?
It may look that way, but this is the 1930 interior view of a Wisconsin Power & Light generating station located at Indianford, Wisconsin, a small town on the Rock River near Janesville.
It’s the cover photo of the July 1930 edition of Power & Light News, the employee publication of Wisconsin Power & Light. Oddly, even though the photo occupied the most prominent spot possible, there’s not a descriptive word to be found anywhere inside the publication.
A look back: We were exploring EVs 50 years ago
This story is evidence that, even though we may not have called it that in 1969, we were already actively interested in Powering What’s Next.
This photo shows the 1968 Mars II silent electric automobile, the first production unit off the line at Electric Fuel Propulsion, Inc, a company then located in Ferndale, Michigan.
Wisconsin Power and Light was the first utility to purchase this advanced-design electric car. In February 1969, we displayed the EV in front of our Monroe, Wisconsin, office, then located on Monroe’s central Downtown Historic Courthouse Square.
This interesting historical nugget came to our attention via a recent “Celebrating Our Past” feature published by the Monroe Times.
ConnectYourCare (CYC) is our new HRA and FSA vendor effective January 2, 2020
As we announced last fall, ConnectYourCare (CYC) was chosen to replace Your Spending Account (YSA). Several factors went into the selection process. Items at the top of our list included customer service, ease of use and portfolio of services offered..
What to expect next
- We sent a mailing the week of December 16 with information about the transition timeline and frequently asked questions.
- A new CYC debit card was mailed to you the last week of December. The card will be activated January 2. You can request additional cards after January 2 through their website.
- Your YSA card will no longer be active and the YSA website will shut down on December 31.
- You will need to register for an account on the CYC website (connectyourcare.com/alliantenergy). You can also download the myCYC app for your mobile device.from the Apple Store or the Google Play store.CYC customer service will open January 2. You can reach them at 1-844-881-0130. The call center is open 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
- YSA customer service will remain open until January 31, 2020, to help you with outstanding 2019 claims. You can reach YSA customer service at 866-303-1891.
Visit the Under 65 Medical Plan page in the Benefits and Pension Info section for more information. We’ll post additional instructions for registering for your new account before cards arrive in the mail.
A look back: Kitchen appliances you’d have wanted if you lived in 1929
Just 90 years ago, modern electric kitchen appliances were rare in American homes and demonstrating their advantages was part of the job description for retail workers at the local utility company.
This photograph depicts the interior of our retail office in Dodgeville, Wis., in 1929.
New electric appliances were displayed prominently on the office floor to prompt customers to inquire about the snazzy new technology.
This photo and accompanying article appeared in the November 1929 edition of Power and Light News, a publication for employees of Wisconsin Power & Light Company, soon after the day designated as the official start of the Great Depression, October 24, 1929.
A look back: Kind of like playing with an erector set
Because new highway construction near Portage, Wisconsin, required a longer span across the roadway, the 12-person team had to transfer two high-voltage transmission lines from poles to 115-foot towers. According to the crew doing the work, this was a first.
These five images show the day’s progress. From the left, they started by putting up the base and securing it. Then, with the help of a crane, they eased the top portion into place, almost as if it were an oversized Erector Set. By 2 p.m., everything was in place and securely bolted down. Job well done!
The photos and accompanying article first appeared in the September 1963 issue of Employees’ News, the monthly internal news magazine of Wisconsin Power and Light Company.
Sauk Prairie: Hydro-Mania
PBS Wisconsin did a "Wisconsin Hometown Story" about the Prairie du Sac hydroelectric plant.
A look back: ...and other duties as assigned
Virtually every job description includes the open-ended statement “and other duties as assigned.” However, as broad as the phrase is, it’s safe to say almost none of us would consider the task pictured here as legitimately falling within the scope of the term.
But in 1970 for two Wisconsin Power & Light employees, it was all in a normal day’s work. It’s because the two men had the job of inspecting – via truck and on foot – 3,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in 34 Wisconsin counties.
They did no repairs and climbed no poles. Using binoculars and their feet (always in sturdy boots), they checked transmission lines for broken insulators, encroaching trees, loose hardware or bad crossarms.
The reports of what they’d seen enabled the company to address small problems before they had time to morph into big ones.
The work presented them with several inherent challenges, one of them being forced to cross the Fox River in the manner shown. They also routinely had to contend with barbed wire fences, thistles, poison ivy, hornets, bulls, snakes and more. At one time, they even carried tear-gas guns in case they had to ward off an imminent threat. But they stopped carrying the guns; they never used them.
This photo and accompanying article appeared in the November 1970 issue of Employees’ News, an employee publication of the Wisconsin Power & Light Company.
Sutherland Generating Station imploded
Crews have been busy for several months removing parts of the facility. The final section of the boiler house was imploded. This approach is safer because workers using excavating equipment don’t have to worry about falling debris. It is also a less expensive option that is more beneficial for our customers.
At its peak, Sutherland’s three turbines could generate a total of 165 megawatts of electricity and employed more than 60 people. Decommissioning work began in August 2018. More than 99% of the materials from SGS will either be reused on the site or recycled.
Here is a video from the implosion that is being featured on our social media channels. (The photo of Sutherland at right was taken on the morning of demolition by Delania Halter, Office Administrator, Marshalltown Generating Station.)
A look back: Getting paid to work out?
That’s because, in his off hours, he was a basketball referee for the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
It’s a novel way to get exercise.
Bob had been doing this for 19 years when the original article was written, and he probably logged quite a few years after that.
Regarding his refereeing experience, Bob said, “Sure, I’ve made bad calls. Any guy who says he hasn’t is a liar. The thing to do is forget it and concentrate on the rest of the game. You can’t second guess yourself. Once you’ve blown the whistle, that’s it. You’ve called it.”
It sounds like good advice that would apply to just about everyone.
This photo and accompanying article appeared in the Spring 1975 issue edition of Concepts, an employee publication of the Wisconsin Power & Light Company.
A look back
We have $100; do I hear $125?
The chant of an experienced auctioneer is unmistakable. The gentleman on the left, Iver Leatherberry, had a day job with Wisconsin Power & Light as a Consumer Services Representative II in Ripon. The photo, from 1979, shows him doing his after-hours and weekend job of being a successful auctioneer.
He learned the skill in 1952 at a two-week course at an auctioneering school in Iowa. Iver described it as “the best $125 I’ve ever spent.”
In 2019 dollars, that $125 would be about $1,330, which is not an insignificant sum.
Iver described what he learned like this: “At the school, I learned the language of auctioneering. Auctioneers ‘cry’ – not conduct – auctions. And every auctioneer has a unique lingo, which is called a ‘roll.’ ” He went on to say, “We learned the fill words that are part of every auctioneer’s roll. Although the instructor suggested different rolls to us, we each had to develop our own. I try to make mine pleasing to the ear, and I throw in a little humor so people don’t get bored.”
This photo and an accompanying article appeared in the fall 1979 edition of Concepts, the employee magazine of the Wisconsin Power & Light Company.
A look back
This undated “Fort Madison Electric Company” sign still hangs in a place of honor at the Green Bay Bar and Grill in Wever, Iowa, a small town not far from Fort Madison.
It frames the question hypothetically. Without electricity, there’d be no breakfast, no street cars, no telephones, no lights in stores or offices and no power in factories. Good point.
But, the good news is, as the sign states, “electric service takes no vacations!”
We’d love to tell you how old the sign is, but we don’t have the information. Let’s just say it was so long ago phone numbers only had three digits.
A look back
Lunar stroll half a century ago
Fifty years ago, on July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 mission launched, transporting the first two humans destined to walk on the moon. Four days later, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the Eagle on the moon’s surface, their accomplishment captured the imaginations of people around the world!
Six hours after they’d landed, in a televised segment beamed back to Earth, Armstrong and Aldrin became the first humans to step onto the surface of the moon.
Congratulatory messages immediately streamed in from all over the world, including this example from the employees of one of our predecessor companies, Iowa Southern Utilities Company.
The overtly masculine framing of the language in this ad was common for the time, but the actual composition of the technical team who made this mission possible was much more diverse.