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.

Crews erecting large transmission towers

Sauk Prairie: Hydro-Mania

PBS Wisconsin did a "Wisconsin Hometown Story" about the Prairie du Sac hydroelectric plant.

View the episode

Man walking on power lines

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.

New vendor to replace Your Spending Account (YSA)

After reviewing multiple vendors, ConnectYourCare (CYC) has been 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.

Making things better
We’re excited about the improvements and expect they will make things better for you. For instance, the verification process will be easier. CYC's system tracks medical and dental claims, so, in some cases, it will verify card swipes automatically if you're on our medical and dental plans (Anthem and Delta Dental). We expect you will spend less time scanning and uploading documents.

What else is new?

  • New spending account plan debit card
  • A new claims submission tools
  • Round-the-clock, dedicated customer service: 24/7/365
  • Improved online portal and mobile app

We’ll provide resources for navigating the new system and keep you up-to-date on the transition process.

Annual enrollment in benefits is Oct. 14-28

Mark your calendar. Annual Enrollment, when you select and enroll in your benefits, is October 14–28. You’ll receive a letter at your home address outlining the process and what you can expect. Your Annual Enrollment packet will arrive shortly afterward.

Edith Hilliard honored in recent article

A former Alliant Energy-WPL employee, Edith Hillard, was the subject of a recent madison.com article. After retiring from WPL at age 50, Edith was an active member of the Madison community. Read all about her life and the impact she has made in the article.
Thumbnail of goat video

Corporate Sustainability Report is live!

Alliant Energy's 2019 Sustainability Report is now available online. The report includes many quick-read stories on numerous topics that tell our sustainability story and how we are Living our Values. We highlight how our actions are serving the needs of our customers, being mindful of the world around us.

Some highlights of the report:

  • A video from our new CEO, John Larsen
  • Information on our clean and renewable energy plans
  • Updates on community and customer programs
  • Metrics and data on our performance
  • A video about goats!

The report can be accessed at alliantenergy.com/sustainability.

Sutherland Generating Station with sunrise behind it

Sutherland Generating Station imploded

On Thursday, explosive charges brought down the remaining structures at Sutherland Generating Station. The demolition was carried out by Bierlesutherland last sunsetin Companies from Midland, Mich., and Dykon Blasting Corporation of Tulsa, Okla.

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.)
Black and white photo of a man referring a basketball game

A look back: Getting paid to work out?

Bob Lukoski, a Truck Driver and Ground Man at our Ripon, Wis., office in the 1970s, used to run two to three times per week. The best part, though, is he got paid $20, plus reasonable expenses, every time he worked 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.

Announcement: New vendor to replace YSA

We are replacing Your Spending Account (YSA) with a new vendor in 2020. We’ve listened to your concerns about YSA and made it a priority to find and choose a new administrator. Our new vendor also offers more services and administrative support that align with our strategy – which allows us to think beyond and be bold.

The name of the new vendor and timing, along with the list of what’s changing (and what isn’t), will be communicated in the coming weeks.

To provide a smooth transition to the new vendor, we’re already engaged with experts in project and change management. We created a focus group in support of this project, and they will provide input as we go through the transition.

Please continue to use your YSA as usual to pay for, or be reimbursed for, health, dependent care and parking charges. Continue to submit claims and documents to support claims when requested.

Auctioneer in a black and white photo

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.

Poster from Fort Madison Electric Co.

A look back

What if electricity really did take a day off?

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.
Iowa Southern moon landing ad

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.
Stock ad from Wisconsin Power Light and Heat Co.

A look back

In 1923, if you had a few thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket looking for a home, you could have done worse than invest in the preferred capital stock of Wisconsin Power, Light & Heat Co.

Preferred stock is a form of company ownership, just like common stock, but it comes with no voting rights. In a sense, preferred stock is similar to a bond because investors receive a fixed dividend in perpetuity, 7% in this case.

Plus, this issue was exempt from all taxation in Wisconsin, and the dividend payments were exempt from the federal income tax.

For reference, $100 per share in 1923 translates to about $1,486 today. So, this investment would have been out of reach for quite a few citizens at the time.

Also, because this was pre-1929, securities laws were still a bit lax.

It may be hard to decipher this part, but the handbill states, “This stock may be purchased from any employee of this Company or from the employees of the following affiliated Companies.

  • Wisconsin River Power Company
  • Mineral Point Public Service Company
  • Janesville Electric Company
  • Eastern Wisconsin Electric Company
  • Southern Wisconsin Power Company”

Financial regulations were definitely a lot looser in 1923 than they are today.

Photo of a small, old substation

A look back

How old is old?

This photo was one of dozens of vintage photographs that appeared in the WP&L 60th anniversary edition of the company’s employee magazine. The intro to the article posed the question, “How old is old?”

As you might expect, the article provided a lot of different answers to the question. Plus, you could almost certainly come up with a few more of your own alternatives. However you define “old,” though, this photo definitely shows something befitting the adjective.

The caption describes it as “a small rural substation near Prairie du Sac, 1923.” It’s fascinating to consider how far electric distribution has come since then.

The story and image appeared in the Spring 1984 edition of Concepts, the magazine for employees of Wisconsin Power and Light Company.

Denman Kramer shows his poem to Gov. Scott Walker

Retiree achieves two 100-year goals

Denman Kramer, who passed away on February 14, was a well-known person in the Sauk Prairie, Wis. area and a longtime employee at the Prairie du Sac Dam. In fact, it's said he knew more about the dam than anybody. His goal as he aged was to make it to the 100th anniversary of the dam and then to live until 100 himself. He accomplished both goals.

For the 75th anniversary of the Prairie du Sac Dam, Denman wrote a poem about its history. .pdf

When Denman turned 100 last December, the Star News ran a nice article about him. And after his passing, his former neighbor wrote a touching tribute that was published in the Star News.

Photo caption: Denman shows his poem to Gov. Scott Walker at the 100th anniversary of the Prairie du Sac Dam.

Retiree's 45-year career memorialized in the media

Dana Fister, who spent 45 years serving the Riceville and Elma, Iowa, areas recently retired. His career and observations were nicely captured in an article by the Riceville Recorder. You can read the article by clicking the link below. (Courtesy: Riceville Recorder)

"Fister ends 45-year career with Alliant Energy".pdf

Retiree receives Wayne G. Russell award

Paul Proctor, an Alliant Energy retiree, was awarded the Wayne G. Russell award in November 2018. The award is presented annually to a person or organization that has assisted Wisconsin agriculture adopt new electric and or farm equipment technologies for the betterment of the agricultural industry. Paul accepted the award at the sectional meeting of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The award is given in memory of Wayne G. Russell, who was an employee of Wisconsin Power and Light and helped develop Alliant Energy’s farm service programs.

During his 30-year career with Alliant Energy, Paul worked for the Ag Services team. He continues his work with agriculture by helping families show and judging pigs across the state.

Wayne G Russell award recipient Paul Proctor

Paul Proctor (center) with Alliant Energy Lead Engineer Bob Fick (left) and Bob Russell (son of Wayne G. Russel, right)

Kampling announces intent to retire

Alliant Energy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Patricia L. Kampling announced her intent to retire from the company effective July 1, 2019. The Board of Directors appointed Alliant Energy President and Chief Operating Officer John O. Larsen to succeed Kampling.

For more information, read the full article on the Alliant Energy News Blog.

2019 Retiree Reunions announced!

Visit the Retiree Reunions page for details and RSVP information.

Early Retiree Medical plan

Please note that if you are participating in Alliant Energy’s Early Retiree Medical plan in 2019, your January HRA contribution has been deposited into your account with YSA. These funds are not an additional contribution. They were funded early. Your next scheduled contribution is July 1, 2019. 

Reminder on 2018 tax information for pension

The process for issuing Form 1099 to report annual pension income has not changed.

  • These forms must be “postmarked” by January 31, 2019 – and will be sent to your current address of record at Wells Fargo Bank.
  • Since that date is the same date required for many financial institutions providing earnings statements, you can imagine the Post Office will have an abundance of mail to transmit/deliver. The form is not required to be “received “ at that date, simply post-marked.

Please do not call Wells Fargo (nor Alliant Energy) for a duplicate Form 1099 before February 15 – they will not issue duplicate documents prior to that date. If your form has not been received after that date, you should contact Wells Fargo directly at (877) 877-1207 to request the duplicate tax document. Note that duplicate tax forms cannot be redirected to an alternate address – new nor a temporary “winter” location.

Consequently if you have moved during 2018, to avoid complications with the transmission of this financial data, we strongly suggest you take a moment to review your address NOW. Many retirees currently receive a Wells Fargo monthly remittance which will show your current address. If you have moved but do not receive monthly remittance forms; you can contact Wells Fargo at the number provided above.

Please be aware Wells Fargo will not update address information over the phone. You can find their Change of Address form.pdf on the Benefits and Pension forms page. That form does require you to also submit proof of your identity.

If you are an Alliant Energy shareowner, many of the above deadlines will be identical for their tax reporting as well. Please check the Shareowner Services section of the retiree website for applicable processes.

YSA resources

Some important resources for our retirees in the Your Spending Account (YSA) program:

Screenshot of YSA Information Videos link

OneExchange has changed its name to Via Benefits®

frequently asked questions document.pdf is available with more information on this update.

The new website is live!

The new Alliant Energy Retirees website was designed with you in mind. On the new site you can enjoy:

  • Easier-to-navigate menus
  • More benefits and pension information
  • All the contact information you need in one place
  • Fun photo galleries (coming soon!)
  • And much more!

We want to know what you think of the new site! Drop us a line at retirees@alliantenergy.com to give us your feedback.