Filtered by author: Megan Purtell Clear Filter

MGE RECEIVES APPROVAL TO PURCHASE PART OF NEW WIND FARM

Madison Gas and Electric has received approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) to purchase part of the Red Barn Wind Farm.

The 9.1 MW purchase of the 92-MW wind farm is in partnership with Wisconsin Public Service (WPS). In total, it will be an approximately 12,000-acre project that will feature 28 turbines.

Read More

JUDGE BLOCKS MISSISSIPPI RIVER CROSSING FOR $492M POWER LINE

A federal judge has blocked a power line under construction in Iowa and Wisconsin from crossing the Mississippi River after finding the government’s environmental review was inadequate. Judge William Conley’s ruling throws the fate of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line into question just months after utilities began construction on the $492 million project.

Conley sided with four conservation groups that sued two federal agencies over approvals of the contentious 102-mile line between Dubuque, Iowa, and Middleton. In an order, Conley said the Rural Utilities Service’s environmental review did not give adequate consideration to alternatives and therefore failed to comply with federal law.

Read More

WEC ENERGY GROUP'S JAYHAWK WIND FARM GOES INTO SERVICE

WEC Energy Group has announced that the 190-megawatt Jayhawk Wind Farm in Bourbon and Crawford counties, Kansas, has achieved commercial operation.

Jayhawk is generating renewable energy that is being sold under long-term contract to Meta, formerly Facebook.

Read More

PSC HELD PERFORMANCE-BASED REGULATION WORKSHOP

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC or Commission) held an in-person workshop on Performance-Based Regulation on Tuesday, January 11, 2022, as part of its work in its Roadmap to Zero Carbon docket.

The workshop was designed to facilitate education and dialogue among all interested parties on considerations and options associated with the pursuit for performance-based regulation and will inform Commission decision-making as Wisconsin transitions to zero-carbon electricity consumption by 2050. The workshop focused on the following question:

  • What are appropriate methods and strategies for using performance-based regulation to support better performance outcomes for Wisconsin utilities?

ALLIANT ENERGY NAMES MAYURI FARLINGER VICE PRESIDENT – CUSTOMER AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Mayuri Farlinger has been named vice president of customer and community engagement effective January 1, 2022. Farlinger’s promotion was announced by Terry Kouba, President of Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy company and Senior Vice President of Operations. With this announcement, over one third of Alliant Energy’s senior executive officers are now female. 

“Mayuri’s proven and ongoing leadership and initiative at Alliant Energy energizes others and delivers positive results,” according to Kouba. “Her passion for providing innovative solutions is critical to delivering on our purpose to serve customers and build stronger communities.” 

In this role, Farlinger is responsible for growing Alliant Energy’s customer base in Iowa by leading the company’s economic development, community engagement and account management areas. She will direct and provide leadership for regulatory activities and initiatives supporting all electric and natural gas customers in Iowa. Farlinger also is responsible for directing and implementing the day-to-day delivery of gas and electric service, power plant operations in Eastern Iowa, as well as working with the company’s Safety Blue Hat program across the state.

XCEL ENERGY’S DAKOTA RANGE I AND II WIND FARM NOW OPERATIONAL

Xcel Energy has announced that its Dakota Range I and II Wind Farm is fully operational and is now delivering clean, renewable energy to Xcel Energy’s Upper Midwest customers.

Since 2017, the company has added about 2,000 megawatts of new or rebuilt wind energy to the Xcel Energy Upper Midwest wind portfolio, enough to power more than 945,000 average homes. Overall, the company estimates that more than sixty percent of the energy provided to Upper Midwest customers is currently carbon free, with more than twenty percent of that coming from wind energy. At the end of 2020, Xcel Energy became one of the first energy providers in the United States to reach 10,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity online for customers in the states it serves.

CONSTRUCTION COMPLETE FOR PORT WASHINGTON-SAUKVILLE REBUILD

The American Transmission Company (ATC) has completed construction of the Port Washington-Saukville Rebuild Project. This project included a 4.8-mile, 138,000-volt transmission line rebuild, along with modifications at the Port Washington Substation in Port Washington, Wisconsin, and Saukville Substation in Saukville, Wisconsin.

Initially identified in ATC’s 10-Year Assessment in 2009, this $25 million infrastructure investment strengthens electric transmission reliability in the southeast Wisconsin area and improves operating flexibility under certain system conditions. The project was officially placed into service December 18, 2021.

Read More

ALLIANT ENERGY TO COMPLETE PRAIRIE DU SAC DAM IMPROVEMENT

Alliant Energy will soon complete its Prairie du Sac Dam improvement project. The Prairie du Sac Dam parking lot area and access road was closed December 16-17 and December 20-23, 2021, to ensure a safe area for Alliant Energy crews to complete the project and remove barges from the Wisconsin River above the dam. 

“We’re excited to wrap up this improvement project, and our number one priority is to complete our work safely,” according to Eric Curtis, Alliant Energy Project Manager. “Using the parking lot as a barge drop off and demobilization staging area will allow crews to finish their work while ensuring the safety of the public, especially those who visit the area for recreational activities.”

The dam improvement project utilized a crane secured to a barge to replace the existing spillway operator deck. The spillway operator deck allows for safe operation of the spillway gates, which benefits the public who enjoy recreation near the dam. 

The parking lot area and access road were closed to public vehicle and pedestrian traffic from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. December 16-17 and December 20-23. The closure allowed about two dozen large construction vehicles to safely remove sections of the barges from the site. Outside of these dates and times, access to the site and waters around the dam remained open.

“For more than 100 years, the Prairie du Sac Dam has delivered clean, safe and reliable energy,” said Curtis. “We appreciate the public’s understanding and patience while we complete this project

MORE WISCONSIN UTILITY-SCALE SOLAR PROJECTS WENT ONLINE IN 2021 THAN IN ANY OTHER YEAR

Wisconsin utilities installed and placed into service more solar power in 2021 than any other year as utility-scale solar projects are increasing. The growth of renewable electricity is expected to accelerate as part of efforts to meet carbon reduction goals to stave off the worst effects of climate change. 

Read More

RENEWABLE DEREGULATION

by James Buchen, WUI Executive Director

Legislation has been introduced (SB 490, AB 527, SB 702) that will exempt entities that own or operate renewable generating facilities from traditional utility regulation. The effect of these bills will be to shift significant costs to nonparticipating electric customers and give access to Wisconsin’s energy grid to developers of such projects at no cost to them.

Under current law, persons that provide energy to the public, directly or indirectly, are considered utilities subject to regulation by the PSC. This regulatory scheme is designed to protect consumer interests while providing reliable energy at a reasonable cost. The system also serves to minimize the potential for one group of residential rate payers to be forced to subsidize the price of energy for another group of residential rate payers. In addition, the system ensures that utilities have the necessary capital to finance the construction and maintenance of a large scale, reliable, low cost energy system by providing investors with a fair rate of return on their investments.

Wisconsin utilities are committed to prudently expanding renewable energy generation including substantial investment in solar and wind energy. 



Read More

ALLIANT ENERGY ANNOUNCES COMMUNITY MICROGRID

Alliant Energy has announced plans for a community microgrid in Richland County, which will help improve reliability for some customers. The community-based microgrid is set to be built in the Village of Boaz as part of the company’s efforts to advance its Clean Energy Blueprint,  said the director of Engineering and Customer Solutions.

Alliant Energy noted the project is the first of its kind for them, involving the construction of a small-scale power grid. It will be able to be disconnected from a traditional grid to operate independently in the event of an outage or service disruption. When it is disconnected, Alliant Energy stated that it will serve customers with power from other sources such as a battery, wind, solar or a combination. The site will be built along County Road E in the Dayton Township and will provide for about 120 customers. It is expected to be completed by the spring of 2022.

REGULATORS APPROVE $370M NATURAL GAS STORAGE PROJECT

Wisconsin utility regulators have approved plans for a $370 million natural gas storage project in southeastern Wisconsin designed to provide fuel when demand spikes. We Energies and Wisconsin Gas say the dual facilities in Jefferson and Walworth counties are needed to improve reliability and resilience in the future.

WEC ENDING COAL USE, WILL SHIFT NEWER UNITS TO NATURAL GAS BY 2035

Three months after WEC Energy Group executives said they were exploring the feasibility of adding natural gas capabilities at the company’s newer Oak Creek coal-fired plants, the company has announced a plan to eliminate coal as an energy source by 2035. The announcement came during a call with the investment community in November of 2021.

WEC Energy Group has reduced carbon dioxide emissions more than 50 percent below 2005 levels. By making operating refinements, retiring less efficient generating units, and executing an aggressive capital plan, WEC committed to a 60 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2025, 80 percent reduction by the end of 2030 and phasing out coal by 2035. WEC Energy Group’s Chairman, Gale Klappa, told analysts the newer Oak Creek units running on natural gas “will remain a key part of  our fleet for many, many years to come.”

Read More

ONION RIVER SOLAR PROJECT TRANSITIONS TO ALLIANT ENERGY

Alliant Energy has reached a major milestone as it acquired ownership of the 150-megawatt Onion River Solar Project, located in the town of Holland in Sheboygan County. The Onion River Solar Project is the sixth and final project Alliant Energy acquired as part of an approved filing with the Public Service Commission to add 675 MW of solar energy generation in Wisconsin. Alliant Energy acquired the project from Ranger Power and D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments (DESRI) and is contracting with a subsidiary of DESRI to construct the project.

This 1,000-acre, 150-MW solar project will create approximately 250 jobs. Construction will begin in the spring with a targeted completion date in the fall of 2023. Once operational, the project will generate enough electricity to power nearly 40,000 Wisconsin homes. Combined, the town and county will receive an estimated $600,000 in annual shared revenues for the next 30 years to be used as determined by local communities and their elected officials.

Read More

Happy New Year! Coming in 2022

WE WISH YOU A HEALTHY, HAPPY, AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!
- WUI BOARD OF DIRECTORS - 
♦COMING IN 2022 ♦

  • Watch for your invitation to attend a Regional Meeting near you.
  • 6 WUI Newsletters (one every other month) will be mailed to those who prefer a printed copy.
  • WUI will send 12 monthly email newsletters (an increase of 2 per year).
  • Receive more up-to-date information about the companies you are invested in.

DON’T MISS OUT!
If you do not currently receive WUI emails, please send your name and email to [email protected]  to be added to the monthly email list. Or Click here to add yourself! 

EARNINGS | DIVIDENDS

XCEL ENERGY THIRD-QUARTER 2021 EARNINGS REPORTED
Xcel Energy has reported 2021 third-quarter GAAP and ongoing earnings of $609 million, or $1.13 per share, compared with $603 million, or $1.14 per share, in the same period in 2020. Earnings reflect higher electric and natural gas margins and lower operating and maintenance (O&M) expenses, which were offset by additional depreciation and lower allowance for funds used during construction.

Xcel Energy posted strong year-to-date results, and is narrowing its 2021 earnings guidance to $2.94 to $2.98 per share. It is also issuing an updated capital forecast of $26 billion for 2022 to 2026, which will provide significant benefits to customers, help the company achieve its system goals by 2050, and drive rate base growth of 6.5 percent. In addition, the company is initiating 2022 earnings guidance of $3.10 to $3.20 per share, which is consistent with long-term growth objectives.

Read More

RATE HIKES

REGULATORS APPROVE RATE HIKES FOR ALLIANT, XCEL CUSTOMERS
Wisconsin regulators have approved rate increases for two utilities serving about a quarter of the state’s customers. Alliant Energy’s electricity rates will rise 6.2 percent in 2022 and stay flat the next year under the plan approved by the Public Service Commission. Gas rates will rise 8.6 percent next year.

Xcel Energy electricity rates will rise more than ten percent next year and at least another 2.5 percent in 2023 depending on fuel prices. Gas rates will go up 8.4 percent in 2022 and another 2.3 percent the next year.

For Alliant customers, that will add about $10 a month to the typical residential electricity bill and about $4 a month to the average gas bill in 2022, according to PSC estimates. Xcel customers can expect to pay about $5.63 more per month for electricity and $4.63 more for gas next year. The utility also agreed to reduce the current $17 flat monthly fee by $1 each year, something WEC Energy Group has proposed to keep rates flat next year for customers of We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service Corp.


REGULATORS APPROVE MGE RATE HIKE
Madison Gas and Electric customers will pay slightly more for the electricity they use next year under a plan approved by regulators. But in a win for consumer advocates, the utility will lower the flat monthly fees that disproportionately affect those who use the least energy.

In split votes, the Public Service Commission agreed to approve a deal negotiated between MGE, consumer and environmental organizations and UW-Madison. The average residential customer will pay about $7.50 more per month for electricity and gas service next year, according to PSC estimates.

The new rates represent an increase of about 5.2% to electricity base revenues and 2.2% for gas, driven by the utility’s investments in an Iowa County solar farm, new billing software and improvements to the gas distribution system. Fuel costs are expected to increase by about $15 million. Savings from the 2017 federal tax cuts, which had been used to offset spending increases in recent years, have been exhausted, though the utility agreed to trim operating expenses by about $1.1 million.

HEATING BILLS COULD JUMP AS MUCH AS 54 PERCENT THIS WINTER

With prices surging worldwide for heating oil, natural gas and other fuels, the U.S. government said it expects households to see their heating bills jump as much as fifty-four percent compared to last winter. Nearly half the homes in the U.S. use natural gas for heat, and they could pay an average $746 this winter, thirty percent more than a year ago. Those in the Midwest could get particularly pinched, with bills up an estimated forty-nine percent and this could be the most expensive winter for natural-gas heated homes since 2008-09, according to the forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The federal estimate follows a forecast issued by the state’s largest utility, We Energies. That analysis assumes “average” winter weather compared with the federal forecast which says the winter will be slightly colder than normal. That analysis done by We Energies predicts the typical residential customer will pay $25 more a month this winter compared to last year, assuming an average winter weather. That would increase the typical residential customer’s monthly bill about thirty percent from $80 last winter to around $105.

JUDGE PAUSES CONSTRUCTION OF CARDINAL-HICKORY CREEK POWER LINE

A county judge has agreed to temporarily halt construction of a power line through southwest Wisconsin, provided opponents of the project can come up with millions of dollars to cover potential costs of a delay. Utilities had planned to begin building the $492 million Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line between Middleton and Dubuque, Iowa, on October 25, according to court documents.

Judge Jacob Frost granted a request Monday for an injunction to put the project on hold while the courts consider challenges to its permit, agreeing that clearing land would result in damage that could not be easily repaired if the line is ultimately stopped.

Read More

DNR SAYS WISCONSIN’S AIR QUALITY CONTINUES TO IMPROVE

Wisconsin residents are breathing cleaner air than they were 20 years ago according to a new DNR report. The report covered the state’s air quality over the last two decades. According to the annual report, concentrations of most pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act have been decreasing in all regions of the state.

Experts said Wisconsin continues to meet federal standards for particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and lead, meaning it’s either at or below the level of air pollutants that should not be exceeded during a specified time. Some may wonder how air quality can continue to improve when there have been multiple wildfires around the country and in neighboring Minnesota. Experts said it’s because the report has data trends through 2020, and this year’s wildfires are not factored in.

Read More