WUI Testimony PSC: WEC and WI Gas

BEFORE THE  PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF WISCONSIN

 Joint Application of Wisconsin Electric Power Company and Wisconsin Gas LLC for Authority

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WUI Members Enjoy a State Historic Site at This Year’s Annual Meeting

The Wade House and Carriage Museum in Greenbush, Wisconsin, was the setting for a record number of utility investors at the 2019 Wisconsin Utility Investors Annual Meeting of Members. During a brief business meeting, two-term board member Trudy Popenhagen stepped down and former Xcel Energy Regulatory Executive, Donald Reck, was elected to serve on the WUI Board of Directors. Following the annual business meeting, members learned about overall trends in the utility industry as well as the large scale solar and wind technology projects which are currently underway.
The WUI Board of Directors wishes to thank our excellent guest speakers, Attorney Andrew Hanson, Senior Counsel of Perkins Coie LLP who spoke about large scale utility solar, Commissioner Ellen Nowak of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission who spoke about energy policy and issues, and government relations representatives Elise Nelson from Alliant Energy, Matthew Pagel from Xcel Energy, and Chris LaRowe and Joel Haubrich of WEC Energy Group, who updated the membership about their respective company progress and initiatives. Members were also able to meet with shareholder representatives from MGE Energy, Alliant Energy, Xcel Energy and WEC Energy Group.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Curator Jim Willaert, introduced the membership to the Carriage Museum and sent them on their way to enjoy the historic site; including a working sawmill, blacksmith shop and Wade House Carriage stop via horse drawn carriage rides. We apologize to the members who were not able to enjoy a carriage ride due to the overwhelming response to the opportunity.
Please visit our new website at www.wuiinc.org for all the current news on the Energy industry and Wisconsin Utility projects. The WUI Board of Directors appreciates your feedback and support. To that end, WUI will continue to hold meetings at historical and otherwise engaging Wisconsin locations.
A new opportunity to join WUI with a “Lifetime Membership” was introduced at this year’s annual meeting. With a Lifetime Membership, yearly dues of $15 will be a thing of the past, though Annual Memberships are still available.
Membership information is available from the WUI Website, and dues may now be paid by credit card.

WEC Energy Group to Acquire Majority of Thunderhead Wind Energy Center

WEC Energy Group has announced that the company has agreed to acquire an eighty percent ownership interest in Thunderhead Wind Energy Center. The project is being developed in Antelope and Wheeler counties, Nebraska, by Invenergy — a leading developer and operator of sustainable energy solutions. Commercial operation is expected to begin by the end of 2020.
The wind farm has a long-term offtake agreement with a Fortune 100 company for 100 percent of the energy produced.
The Thunderhead site will consist of 108 GE wind turbines with a combined capacity of 300 megawatts. WEC Energy Group’s investment will total $338 million for the 80 percent ownership interest.
“This investment fits exceptionally well with our strategy of deploying capital in renewable energy assets that will serve strong, vibrant companies for years to come,” said Gale Klappa, executive chairman of WEC Energy Group.
Under the tax rules, the WEC Energy Group investment is expected to be eligible for 100 percent bonus depreciation and production tax credits. The transaction is subject to receiving all necessary regulatory approvals.

WEC Energy Group Posts Second-Quarter And First-Half Results

 

 

Residential electricity use dropped by 8.9 percent, and electricity consumption by small commercial and industrial customers was 5.2 percent lower. Electricity use by large commercial and industrial customers — excluding the iron ore mine — was down by 4.1 percent during the second quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year.
WEC Energy has reported net income of $235.7 million, or 74 cents per share for the second quarter of 2019 — up from $231 million, or 73 cents per share for the second quarter last year.
For the first six months of 2019, the company recorded net income of $655.8 million, or $2.07 per share — up from $621.1 million, or $1.96 per share in the corresponding period a year ago. Consolidated revenues totaled $4.0 billion for the first six months of 2019, flat compared to revenues for the first half of 2018.
“Our focus on financial discipline and operating efficiency were major factors driving our positive results — despite very mild weather in this year’s second quarter,” said Gale Klappa, Executive Chairman. Retail deliveries of electricity — excluding the iron ore mine in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula — were down by 5.9 percent in the second quarter of 2019, compared to the second quarter of 2018.
On a weather-normal basis, retail deliveries of electricity during the second quarter of this year — excluding the iron ore mine — decreased by 1.6 percent. Second quarter natural gas deliveries in Wisconsin, excluding gas used for power generation, fell by 2.9 percent. On a weather-normal basis, natural gas deliveries rose by 0.7 percent. At the end of June, the company was serving approximately 11,000 more electric customers and 23,000 more natural gas customers than at the same time a year ago.
The company is raising its earnings guidance for 2019 to a range of $3.50 to $3.53 per share with an expectation of reaching the top end of the range. This assumes normal weather for the remainder of the year.

Lyft, MGE Offer Bonus to Grow Electric Vehicle Ridesharing in Madison

Lyft and Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) are partnering to increase the use of electric vehicle (EV) ridesharing in Madison and grow awareness of the benefits of EVs. The two companies will offer a $500 bonus to Madison-area EV drivers who sign up to drive with Lyft. “This program is a unique opportunity for Madison-area residents to ride in an EV and experience what they have to offer,” said Debbie Branson, MGE Manager of Electrification. “EVs offer convenience— for example, with EVs, there are no oil changes or trips to the gas station. They cost less to fuel and maintain than gas-powered vehicles, and they are fun to drive.” Visit mge.com/Lyft to learn more.

Alliant Energy Named a Top Utility in Economic Development

Alliant Energy has been chosen for the annual list of the Top Utilities in Economic Development. Site Selection magazine provided the recognition based on the company’s contribution to the local economies and communities
in its service area.

“We’re proud to be recognized for our efforts to bring investment, growth and job creation to the communities we serve,” said Terry Kouba, President of Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy  company. “We appreciate our local, regional and state economic development partners. Together, we can provide growth that brings value to our customers, communities and new and expanding businesses.”

Alliant Energy Implodes Sutherland Generating Station

Alliant Energy has completed the implosion of the remaining structures of the company’s Marshaltown Iowa Sutherland Generating Station (SGS). The demolition was carried out by Bierlein Companies from Midland, Michigan, and Dykon Blasting Corporation of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The 1950s-era coal-fired facility ceased operations in June 2017 following the construction of the nearby Marshalltown Generating Station (MGS). MGS is a 706-megawatt natural gas-fired facility and is one of the most efficient natural gas power plants in the nation. Its construction complements Alliant Energy’s renewable energy expansion. As a result of investments in wind and solar energy, Alliant Energy will have the ability to provide cleaner energy for more than 600,000 Iowa homes.

Can Utility Companies Become Carbon Free by 2050?

Both Madison Gas and Electric and Alliant Energy say they support Governor Evers’ executive order setting a carbon-free
electricity goal for 2050. Annemarie Newman with Alliant Energy says the company is encouraged by the order. Alliant had previously set a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. “The question now is, how can we do more sooner?”, she said. 

With the announcement happening so recently, those details are still being hammered out. Madison Gas and Electric already had a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. They say they welcomed the executive order. “We share the vision of a cleaner energy future and look forward to working with the Governor and state regulators to advance strategies to achieve MGE’s goal of net-zero carbon electricity by 2050.”

PSC Authorizes $500 Million Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line

Wisconsin utility regulators granted final approval September 26th for a controversial power line while rebuffing conflict of interest charges from opponents of the nearly $500 million project. At a meeting interrupted by protesters, the Public Service
Commission voted unanimously to authorize construction of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek line between Dubuque and Middleton in a written order summarizing points the three commissioners agreed to during a hearing in August.

Alliant Energy Provides Second Quarter 2019 Results

Alliant Energy has announced its earnings per share (EPS) for the three months ended June 30 as
follows:

                                                                                                    2019                                 2018
Utilities and Corporate Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $0.38. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$0.41
American Transmission Company (ATC) Holdings . . . . . . . . . . 0.03. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0.03
Non-utility and Parent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (0.01). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(0.01)
Alliant Energy Consolidated . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $0.40. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$0.43




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2019 Member Survey

In Order to better serve our WUI members, we would like to learn more about what's important to you.

Please take a moment to fill out this brief survey, Your feedback is greatly appreciated.
Your responses to this survey will be compiled with all member responses and will not be attributed to your name nor will your personal information be shared with outside sources.

XCEL ENERGY SECOND QUARTER 2019 EARNINGS REPORT

Xcel Energy has reported 2019 second quarter GAAP and ongoing earnings of $238 million, or $0.46 per share, compared with $265 million or $0.52 per share in the same period in 2018.

Earnings reflect higher electric and natural gas margins primarily due to non-fuel riders and regulatory rate outcomes, more than offset by 5 cents per share of unfavorable weather, increased depreciation, interest and operating and maintenance expenses.

“Despite the milder than normal weather in the second quarter, Xcel Energy’s year-to-date earnings are on track, and we are well-positioned to deliver earnings within our guidance range for the year,” said Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy.

“I am pleased that we have filed our Upper Midwest Resource Plan, which is another significant step forward in our industry leading drive to reduce carbon emissions while ensuring reliability and affordability,” said Fowke. “This plan achieves an 80% reduction in carbon emissions in the region by 2030, through the early retirement of the remaining coal units in the Upper Midwest, by substantially growing the amount of renewables on our system and adding new firm peaking resources to ensure continued reliability. This plan is a key stepping stone toward the company achieving its vision to provide customers 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050.”

ALLIANT ENERGY WORKS TOWARD A CLEANER ENERGY FUTURE

Alliant Energy has released its Corporate Sustainability Report. The report outlines Alliant Energy’s continuing efforts to meet the ever-changing needs of their customers in an affordable, safe, reliable and sustainable way.

“Our world is changing – and so are we,” said Alliant Energy Chairman, President and CEO John Larsen. “We’re listening 
to our customers, employees and key stakeholders and continuing to evolve how we do business. Every day, our work is focused on enhancing the environmental, social and economic conditions of the communities we have the honor to serve.”

Alliant Energy has been transitioning toward cleaner energy for more than a decade. Between 2016 and 2020, the company expects to spend approximately $2 billion on new company-owned wind generation. By the end of 2020, Alliant Energy will own 12 wind farms with the capacity to power nearly 600,000 homes. This equals the energy 
needed to power about 60% of the company’s residential customer base.

Alliant Energy is targeting a 40% reduction in carbon emissions below 2005 levels by 2030 and an 80% reduction by
2050. Last year, the company was among the first utilities to state that it plans to eliminate all existing coal from its
energy mix by 2050.

MGE ENERGY REPORTS SECOND-QUARTER EARNINGS

MGE Energy’s earnings for the second quarter of 2019 were $15.5 million, or 45 cents per share, compared to $18.3 million, or 53 cents per share, for the same period in the prior year.

During the second quarter of 2019, electric net income decreased due to lower residential customer usage resulting from cooler weather in June compared to the same period in the prior year. Gas net income decreased during the quarter primarily related to lower gas retail sales attributable to warmer weather in April 2019 compared to the same period in the prior year.

WE ENERGIES SPENDING $200M AS A POLAR VORTEX FIX

WEC Energy Group has cited challenges the company faced during last winter’s polar vortex as a major reason for spending $200 million strengthening its natural-gas infrastructure in southeast Wisconsin.

WE ENERGIES WORKS TO SOLVE A PROBLEM

The Milwaukee-based utility provider wants to reduce its turnover among workers in the city. People who live outside Milwaukee will start working in the city, said John Glynn, an area manager for We Energies. But when opportunities open closer to their home, they transfer.

“What we’re striving for is to get a strong pool of diverse, skilled candidates that live and want to work in the city,” Glynn said. To resolve the issue, Glynn said, We Energies established a relationship with Milwaukee Public Schools to create a workforce pipeline. The company has two programs – with a third in the works – to give students professional experience in different areas of We Energies’ operations. While solving its own workforce needs, We Energies is also engaging a population that has changed the ways it participates in the labor force.

WEC ENERGY GROUP VIEWS SOLAR FOR FOXCONN’S ENERGY NEEDS

Although there have been many changes to Foxconn Technology Group’s plans for its Mount Pleasant campus, the Chairman of WEC Energy Group says there is still a possibility the utility would at least partially meet the company’s energy needs with a large scale solar array at the site.

The 22 million-square-foot LCD fabrication facility originally proposed by Foxconn would have required 230 megawatts. Gale Klappa, Chairman of WEC Energy Group, indicated the utility and company has considered using solar for 100 to 150 megawatts of that demand. 

Foxconn’s plans have changed significantly from the original project with the company opting for a smaller LCD plant and more product flexibility instead of building large display panels. The company’s first main manufacturing facility will be around 1 million square feet.

Klappa noted Foxconn had “substantially reworked” the first phase of their plans during the first quarter of the year. He said the utility does not expect much change in energy demand for the project’s first phase, pointing in particular to a high-capacity data center planned to support the campus’ research activities.