Retiree Spotlight: Arlene Torrenga, the telephone titan
With the pandemic raging and stay-at-home orders in place, many people may have given up their usual volunteer work. But Alliant Energy retiree Arlene Torrenga found a new way to give back. Each week, she places over a dozen phone calls to friends and people who live alone or in assisted living facilities.
She’s not just checking on their physical health: These phone calls are a bright spot in her friends’ weeks, helping them stay emotionally and mentally healthy.
“After retiring from WPL, I worked in a nursing home and then an assisted living home for a total of twelve years,” Arlene says. “I saw firsthand how much it meant for the elderly to receive phone calls, have visitors and receive mail from family and friends.”
How many calls do you make a day?
The number of calls varies, but at least one a day.
Tell us about one person you call regularly.
I call an 83-year-old lady who has been in lockdown in an assisted living facility since March 18, 2020. Except for essential trips to the doctor, hospital or a few other rare occasions, the residents are not allowed out of the building. If any of the residents is diagnosed with COVID-19, they are all quarantined to their apartments for 14 days and their food is delivered to their door. Visiting by telephone or emails is their only source of communication with the outside world. I call this lady at least three or four times per week. When she is on quarantine, I call her more frequently.
When did you start to realize that your calls were making a real difference?
I was being told how much the calls were looked forward to and appreciated. It didn't take me long to realize that I was making a difference.
A look back: Prepping for the Big (Falls) job
These trucks were the sign of the times … the new trend to work-saving, time-saving equipment in our line operations. After all, the intro to this article was an old saying, “Having the right equipment for the right job is half the battle.”
After a couple of years at the Northern Area, this heavy-duty vehicle best suited our company’s needs, with a large derrick mounted in the center (instead of to the side) of the truck bed behind the cab. Two more trucks would go into service that same year.
The caption with the photo says: “During a transformer installation near Big Falls, the use of the new line truck with a bucket truck illustrates the value of the right equipment for the right job.”
What hasn’t changed since 1969? Our appreciation for the work our crews do. And the continuous improvements we make for our customers and communities.
This feature was in the January 1969 issue of News for Employees of Wisconsin Power & Light Company.
Important information about Form 1099
It’s that time of year again – Wells Fargo (not Alliant Energy) will be issuing your Form 1099 for tax preparation shortly. Those documents will be mailed no later than January 31.
Please be aware that the postal service will be inundated with similar mailings from many companies at this time. It will not be unrealistic for these to arrive at your address throughout the first part of February. Wells Fargo uses the address they had on file for you at 2020 year end.
Their Customer Service folks will not be able to honor requests for duplicate Form 1099’s until at least February 15. If you have not received the document by that time, you may contact Wells Fargo directly at 1-877-877-1207.
For those of you with pensions administered by Principal Financial Group, please follow the above timeline as well. Thereafter you can contact the Principal Customer Service group 1-800-247-7011.
A look back: The power of one pole
Something seems to be missing in this picture. It was taken after the pole was struck by a car right before midnight on October 1, 1973. The pole was broken off, and electric service to 250 east-side Baraboo residents was suspended for about 90 minutes that day.
The quick work by our employees has always been appreciated! And just think of how many ways we can stay connected with our customers about these outages now … an outage map, social media and more.
This feature was in the January 1974 issue of News for Employees of Wisconsin Power & Light Company.
We've been named to Newsweek's America's Most Responsible Companies 2021 List
Alliant Energy has been named to Newsweek’s 2021 list of America’s Most Responsible Companies. This prestigious list is presented by Newsweek and Statista Inc., the world-leading statistics portal and industry ranking provider. The list, which spans 14 industries, recognizes the top 400 most responsible companies in the United States.
“We are pleased to be recognized as one of America’s Most Responsible Companies,” said John Larsen, Chairman, President and CEO of Alliant Energy. “Guided by our purpose-driven strategy to serve customers and build stronger communities, we are generating cleaner energy while ensuring it’s affordable, safe and reliable. We act today for a better tomorrow.”
A look back: The power of toys
Santa’s little helpers were hard at work in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Starting in 1877, Garton Toy Company, the largest industry of its kind in the world, manufactured children’s vehicles, furniture, steering sleds, croquet sets, doll carriages, sand boxes, golf sets and playground equipment. It was completely electrified in its operation and served by our company.
The total connected load was about 300 kilowatts, and 100 of those were supplied by us. A reciprocating engine, supplied with steam from available wood waste, was directly connected to a generator. This power production was designed by our very own engineers! The remainder of the necessary power was supplied from our lines.
You can imagine the smiles on those young faces as the toys were distributed in South America, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Asia, Canada and the U.S., just in time for the holidays. We were Making things better for our communities and customers (of all ages)!
Under 65 Retirees: Annual Enrollment now open
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.