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ALLIANT ENERGY BRINGS SIX NEW SOLAR PROJECTS ONLINE

Alliant Energy has announced the completion of six new large scale solar energy plants, adding 514 megawatts of solar energy to the electric grid, which will power around 135,000 homes annually.
"Completing these projects is a huge milestone and a pivotal moment in our journey toward a brighter energy future,” said David de Leon, Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin President. Alliant Energy is a Wisconsin-based electric and natural gas utility that serves the greater south- central region of the state as well as parts of the northeast.
The company has promoted its commitment to expanding renewable energy generation in Wisconsin and has been developing a total of 12 solar projects over the last few years. Alliant Energy has installed over 2 million solar panels in the state of Wisconsin so far. Utility scale solar projects often lease land from local landowners and farmers to site solar fields that cover hundreds of acres. The company is celebrating the completion of six solar sites — ranging from 50 to 150 megawatts — built in Green, Grant, Sheboygan, Rock, Dodge, and Waushara Counties. Nearly 1,000 workers were
employed during construction of the solar projects, according to a news release.

NEW BILL WOULD GIVE REGULATORS MORE AUTHORITY OVER CONSTRUCTION PLANS

A bill recently introduced in the state Legislature would give the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin greater control over utility plans for future construction projects.

Under the proposal, electric utilities and cooperatives would have to seek approval from state regulators for two-year construction plans for large-scale electric generating facilities, small generating sites and transmission lines. The Public Service Commission, or PSC, typically approves most utility construction projects individually, rather than looking at integrated resource and reliability plans biennially.

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ALLIANT ENERGY WAUTOMA SOLAR PROJECT NOW COMPLETE

Alliant Energy has announced the successful completion of its Wautoma Solar Project, a significant milestone in the company's transition to cleaner and more sustainable energy solutions. The 99-megawatt solar array, in the Waushara County town of Dakota and City of Wautoma, is a cost-effective generating facility that spans 624 acres and consists of nearly 240,000 solar panels. It can produce enough energy to power approximately 26,000 homes annually.

“The completion of this project is a major accomplishment that will deliver safe, reliable, cost-effective energy to our customers for decades,” said Ben Lipari, assistant vice president of resource development at Alliant Energy. “This project has been, and will continue to be, a collaborative effort with our participating landowners, local officials and the broader Waushara County community. A unique aspect of our project design included the repurposing of land at the Wautoma airport, which allowed us to diversify the project layout and maximize the value of underutilized land. Our development and construction of this project demonstrated our core values to ‘Act for tomorrow’ and ‘Make things better.’”

WE ENERGIES NEARS COMPLETION OF LIQUIFIED NATURAL GAS FACILITY

We Energies is about two months away from starting operations at its newest liquified natural gas facility in Ixonia. Construction on the $192 million facility started in 2021. The company expects to see $200 million in savings once the new LNG plant is online in February.

WEC ENERGY GROUP RAISES QUARTERLY DIVIDEND BY SEVEN PERCENT

The Board of Directors of WEC Energy Group has declared a quarterly cash dividend of 83.50 cents per share on the company's common stock, an increase of 7 percent over the current quarterly dividend of 78 cents per share. This raises the annual dividend rate to $3.34 per share. The higher dividend is payable March 1, 2024, to stockholders of record on February 14, 2024. This marks the 326th consecutive quarter, dating back to 1942, that the company will have paid a dividend to its stockholders.

XCEL ENERGY ACHIEVES KEY MILESTONE IN CLEAN ENERGY

Xcel Energy is marking a major step toward its vision of delivering 100 percent carbon-free electricity in Minnesota by 2040 as the company retired one of three coal units at the Sherburne County Generating Plant, or Sherco, over the weekend. For decades, Sherco has held the distinction as Minnesota’s largest power plant. Xcel Energy plans to retire Sherco’s remaining coal-fired units in 2026 and 2030, marking the company’s full exit from coal. The plant site itself is central to Xcel Energy’s clean energy transition with investments in solar, battery storage and new transmission lines.

PSC CHAIR STEPS DOWN

Rebecca Cameron Valcq, Chairperson of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, stepped down from the state regulatory agency on February 4th. She was appointed to the commission by Gov. Tony Evers in January 2019 and became chairperson and a member of Evers' cabinet two months later.

HALF OF CONTROVERSIAL TRANSMISSION PROJECT ONLINE

“We are pleased the eastern segment of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek line has been placed in service,” American Transmission Co. Project Manager Jake Valentine said in a statement.

“This allows the project to begin to provide numerous benefits for electric consumers.” The project was approved by the Midwest grid operator in 2011. It received approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in September 2019, and the Iowa Utilities Board in May 2020.

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WISCONSIN'S LARGEST SOLAR PROJECT IS NOW FULLY OPERATIONAL

Madison Gas and Electric and We Energies are setting another milestone in delivering affordable, reliable and clean energy to their customers. The final panels at the Badger Hollow Solar Farm are now in service, completing the largest solar project in Wisconsin history. Badger Hollow Solar Farm is a 300-megawatt (MW) renewable energy facility located near the communities of Montfort and Cobb in Iowa County, Wisconsin. The project came online in two 150-MW phases. The second phase began powering homes and businesses across Wisconsin in December. The facility's first phase came online in December 2021. The solar facility's 300-MW generating capacity can power about 90,000 homes.

BILL PROTECTING ENERGY GRID RETURNS TO THE STATE LEGISLATURE

Lawmakers in both chambers of the state Legislature have held hearings on a bill that is aimed at protecting Wisconsin’s power grid from becoming an inefficient patchwork of separate transmission line operators.

The bills were introduced in the state Senate last week by Senator Julian Bradley, R-Franklin; and in the Assembly by Representative Peterson, R-Waupaca. The bills would give the current transmission line companies in Wisconsin the right of first refusal (ROFR) to build new lines connecting to their existing infrastructure.

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WEC REAFFIRMS 2024 SHUTDOWN FOR FIRST OAK CREEK UNITS

WEC Energy Group expects to stop using coal as a power source by 2032, three years earlier than previously expected.

WEC Energy Group executives have presented the utility's plan to become coal-free in eight years, beginning with the shutdown next year of a pair of coal-powered generating units at its We Energies subsidiary's Oak Creek Power Plant.

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XCEL ENERGY RECEIVES GRANT TO BOOST WILDFIRE MITIGATION AND GRID RESILIENCY

Xcel Energy has been selected for a $100 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy to boost its work to reduce and mitigate the threat of wildfires and ensure the resiliency of the grid through extreme weather.

The funding, provided through the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships program and matched by a $140 million cost share provided by Xcel Energy, will support a range of projects that enhance the grid’s resiliency in the face of fires, severe storms, and other adverse environmental conditions to better protect lives, homes and forests while reducing and preventing power outages. The projects will be based in Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas and Wisconsin.

“We recognize that the year-round risk of wildfires has grown, along with the severity of storms and other weather events that threaten the grid,” said Bob Frenzel, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy. “This funding from the Department of Energy will enhance our ability to meet this rising challenge with decisive action while reducing carbon emissions and ensuring reliable affordable and clean power for our customers.”

As climate conditions have changed, environmental impacts to the power grid have grown more severe and frequent. Areas with traditional fire seasons, for example, have seen them evolve into year-round battles against rapidly changing and extreme weather conditions that can generate larger, more intense and faster-moving wildfires.

Xcel Energy is a leader in the clean energy transition, moving forward at a pace and scale that allows the company to reach net-zero carbon emissions responsibly and meet emissions reductions goals that align with science-based climate targets. The company is continually making strategic investments and improvements to strengthen the power grid, build resilience, and increase its situational awareness of risks.

Since 2019, Xcel Energy has invested over $450 million in wildfire mitigation activities in Colorado alone to strengthen its systems and better protect communities and the natural environment.

The projects will take a number of steps to boost grid resiliency, including adding fire-resistant coatings to 6,000 wood poles, improving equipment safety features in power lines and electric vehicle chargers in high fire risk conditions, moving high-risk distribution circuits underground, and enhancing vegetation management. They will also build on current programs using emerging technology, such as drones aided by artificial intelligence that inspect power lines for safety, wind strength testing, satellite identification of trees that pose a risk and modeling software to predict how fires would spread.

In addition, the funding will support greater resilience for communities of color. Xcel Energy will use Department of Energy funds to complement an equal investment in customer-funded microgrids in the Resilient Minneapolis Project, which aims to support underserved communities in Minneapolis by providing solar, battery and microgrid technologies to strengthen community resiliency. Microgrids at key community center locations will allow critical services to be delivered to communities in the event of a grid outage.

ALLIANT ENERGY WILL INCREASE ELECTRIC RATES OVER TWO YEARS

Alliant Energy's Wisconsin residential electric customers will pay about $10 more per month, on average, for electric service next year under a two-year rate plan approved by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

The following year, rates will go up again, adding another $8 per month to the average bill, according to a preliminary analysis by PSC staff.

By 2025, the average residential customer will pay an additional $214 per year for electric service, 16 percent more than this year. Customers' bills for natural gas service will increase about $4 a month in 2024, but will be essentially flat in 2025, according to the PSC analysis.

XCEL ENERGY, HEARTLAND HYDROGEN HUB AWARDED FEDERAL GRANT

The U.S. Department of Energy has selected the Heartland Hydrogen Hub, including multiple clean hydrogen projects from Xcel Energy, for award negotiations to receive up to $925 million. The award will serve as a catalyst for a future hydrogen ecosystem in the Upper Midwest.
The Heartland Hydrogen Hub (HH2H) is one of seven selected to receive funding. The hub includes Xcel Energy, Marathon Petroleum Corporation and TC Energy, in collaboration with the University of North Dakota’s Energy & Environmental
Resource Center, to produce and use low-carbon hydrogen at commercial scale in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana. The hub aims to reduce carbon emissions by more than 1 million metric tons per year, the equivalent of taking 220,000 gasoline-powered cars off the road.

EARNINGS - DECEMBER 2023

XCEL ENERGY THIRD QUARTER 2023 EARNINGS REPORTED
Xcel Energy has reported 2023 third quarter GAAP earnings of $656 million, or $1.19 per share, compared with $649 million, or $1.18 per share in the same period in 2022 and ongoing earnings of $682 million, or $1.23 per share, compared with $649 million, or $1.18 per share in the same period in 2022.
Third quarter ongoing earnings results reflect the impact of increased recovery of infrastructure investments, higher sales and demand, lower operating and maintenance (O&M) expenses, partially offset by increased interest charges and depreciation.
“Xcel Energy delivered solid performance during the third quarter,” said Bob Frenzel, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy. “As a result, we are narrowing our 2023 ongoing earnings guidance to $3.32 to $3.37 per share and initiating 2024 guidance of $3.50 to $3.60 per share.”
“We made significant progress on our industry-leading clean energy transition plans. In September, we filed a proposed 
plan for the largest clean energy transition effort in Colorado history. The plan includes approximately 6,500 MW of renewable energy and battery storage, and approximately 600 MW of natural gas resources to ensure reliability. With
the benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act, the resources in the plan would have an annual rate impact of approximately 2.3 percent.”

MGE ENERGY REPORTS THIRDQUARTER 2023 EARNINGS
MGE Energy has reported financial results for the third quarter of 2023. MGE Energy's GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) earnings for the third quarter of 2023 were $37.9 million, or $1.05 per share, compared to $33.7 million, or $0.93 per share, for the same period in the prior year.
The company’s third-quarter results were primarily driven by an increase in investments included in rate base. Also, warmer-than-normal weather led to an increase in electric residential sales of approximately 5% compared to the third quarter of 2022.
MGE continues to invest in new, cost-effective renewable generation, which is helping to fuel the company's asset growth. An increase in electric investments included in rate base contributed to increased electric earnings for the third quarter of 2023. The timing of depreciation expense also contributed to higher electric earnings in the third quarter of 2023. Depreciation costs are expected to increase after significant capital projects are completed, including the second phase of Badger Hollow and Paris solar projects.
In the third quarter of 2023, earnings from investment in ATC increased $0.9 million, driven by an estimated possible loss recorded in 2022 from filed complaints regarding MISO transmission owners' authorized return on equity. Gas net income in the third quarter of 2023 remained relatively flat compared to the third quarter of 2022.

Happy Holidays!

THE WUI BOARD OF DIRECTORS WOULD LIKE TO SEND A HEARTFELT
Thank you, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to all our members!

Wisconsin Utility Investors (WUI) has a strong membership base that powers an effective grass-roots response. As a member, you have made your voice heard
and votes counted through events such as the WUI Legislative Day and Legislative Action Alert responses.


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WE ENERGIES STRENGTHENS RELIABILITY WITH STATE-OF-THE-ART GENERATION FACILITY NEAR WAUSAU

An innovative new power facility is providing another important source of affordable, reliable energy for homes and businesses across Wisconsin. We Energies has completed a new, 128-megawatt (MW) power generation station at the Weston Power Plant near Wausau, Wisconsin. The units at the natural gas-fueled facility have begun full operations, sending energy to the electric grid. 

“We focus every day on making sure our customers have the energy they depend on,” according to Scott Lauber, President and CEO — We Energies. “As we build more renewable energy power plants, these modern and low-carbon generation units will ensure the lights stay on when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing.”

SOLAR ENERGY BATTERY PROJECTS GET GREEN LIGHT

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin has approved two Alliant Energy battery energy storage projects totaling 175 megawatts (MW). The approval clears the way for construction to begin on the 100-MW Grant County Battery Project and 75-MW Wood County Battery Project. They will be located alongside the company’s Grant County and Wood County solar sites. The integration of these battery systems with Alliant Energy’s utility-scale solar sites increases customer access to safe, reliable energy even when the sun isn’t out.

"We appreciate the PSCW’s approval of these cutting-edge battery energy storage systems that will enhance grid reliability and flexibility for our customers,” according to David de Leon, President of Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin energy company. “These projects are another step toward achieving our clean energy goals while enabling a more resilient and cost-effective energy future. We are excited to break ground on these innovative battery projects and look forward to the benefits and enhanced value these systems will deliver to our customers.” 

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WISCONSIN MANUFACTURERS AND COMMERCE SUPPORTS SUPERIOR ENERGY CENTER

A key federal agency is currently accepting public comments related to the Nemadji Trail Energy Center (NTEC). NTEC will be a state-of-the-art natural gas plant in Superior, Wisconsin, with the ability to deliver up to 625 MW of flexible energy to the electric grid. The proposed plant will help ensure the delivery of safe, reliable and affordable energy to many Wisconsin businesses.

In a statement the  Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce association said, 'Wisconsin manufacturers and other businesses cannot rely solely on intermittent wind and solar resources that are only available when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining. In order to grow jobs, Wisconsin’s business community needs access to affordable and reliable energy."

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XCEL ENERGY ELECTS TIMOTHY WELSH TO BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Xcel Energy has announced that Timothy Welsh has been elected to the company’s Board of Directors, Welsh, who currently serves as Vice Chair for U.S. Bancorp’s Consumer and Business Banking, is an accomplished business and community leader with decades of experience in a variety of diverse fields, including financial services, customer experience, workforce development, and operations. Across several industries, Welsh’s work has centered on understanding consumer behavior and creating strategies to respond to consumer preferences.