Filtered by author: Megan Purtell Clear Filter

RELIABILITY CORPORATION WARNS OF POTENTIAL BLACKOUT RISKS

Hot weather, a growing economy and the early retirement of coal-fired plants could mean a heightened risk of blackouts this summer, according to the nation’s electric grid watchdog.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has warned that parts of the upper Midwest face a “high risk” of energy emergencies under certain conditions, such as extreme heat or unexpected generator outages.

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CARDINAL-HICKORY CREEK LINE CONTROVERSY CONTINUES

Utilities building a controversial power line through southwest Wisconsin say supply chain issues and ongoing court battles have added more than $49 million to the price tag.

As required under the construction permit, the owners of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek line notified the Public Service Commission Friday that the cost would exceed the authorized $492 million price tag by more than ten percent. They say the total cost is now unknown.

The PSC permit does not require additional approval for price overruns. “Rising costs are presently a reality in all industries, and the Cardinal-Hickory Creek project is no exception,“ according to Alissa Braatz, a spokesperson for American Transmission Company, one of the line’s three co-owners.

Meanwhile, opponents of the line between Dubuque, Iowa, and Middleton, Wisconsin, are asking a federal appeals court to temporarily halt construction on either side of the Mississippi River while the court considers whether the line can cross the river as planned.

KEWAUNEE NUCLEAR POWER SALE APPROVED

Wisconsin regulators have approved the sale of a shuttered nuclear plant, leaving hundreds of millions of ratepayer dollars in the hands of a private contractor. 

The Public Service Commission voted unanimously Wednesday, May 25 to allow Dominion Energy to sell the Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant to Utah-based EnergySolutions for an undisclosed sum. EnergySolutions will also get about $835 million set aside to cover the cost of decommissioning the 49-year-old plant.

The commission rejected arguments from consumer advocates who said the deal lacked provisions that could return some $285 million to customers of Alliant Energy and Wisconsin Public Service Corporation. 

Any unused funds in the decommissioning trust are to be returned to ratepayers, but the deal doesn’t cap expenses, giving EnergySolutions discretion over how the money is spent. 



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DAIRYLAND COOPERATIVE CONSIDERING USING A NEW TYPE OF NUCLEAR

The future of nuclear energy in Wisconsin could be different than huge power plants along Lake Michigan as energy companies explore small-scale reactors which wouldn't require nearly as much water and could be operated in a wide range of locations.

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XCEL ENERGY RECOGNIZED FOR CLIMATE LEADERSHIP

Xcel Energy has been inducted into the Climate Leadership Hall of Fame for its outstanding environmental progress, having earned two Climate Leadership Awards in the past decade for industry-leading carbon reduction efforts. The company was also honored with The Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Award for its groundbreaking sustainability goals in Minnesota.

“Xcel Energy’s strong track record in reducing carbon emissions is due to our ongoing commitment to delivering the cleaner energy our customers want. It’s why we’re the first U.S. energy provider to set ambitious clean energy goals across all the ways our customers use energy—electricity, heating, and transportation,” said Bob Frenzel, Chairman, President and CEO of Xcel Energy. “We’re absolutely delighted to be among the first inducted into the Climate Leadership Hall of Fame and are honored to be recognized as a national climate leader.”

ALLIANT ENERGY APPLAUDS FEDERAL ACTION ON SOLAR TARIFFS

Following the news that the Biden administration is preventing tariffs from being imposed on the solar industry for at least the next two years, Alliant Energy shared the following statement:

“At Alliant Energy, we’re driven by our commitment to serving customers and building stronger communities. We applaud President Biden for taking this action.

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PEREGRINE FALCONS FLOURISH AT WPS, WE ENERGIES SITES

Wisconsin Public Service and We Energies are celebrating a milestone year for their popular peregrine falcon program. People around the world tuned in to the live web cameras to watch these endangered birds hatch and grow up.

This year marks 30 years since the first captive-bred peregrine falcons were released from a WPS or We Energies power plant. To celebrate the 30-year anniversary, thousands of customers voted to name this year’s chicks after the best of 1992. So far, 12 chicks have hatched and 10 have been given identification bands.

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DIVIDENDS: JUNE ANNOUNCEMENT

XCEL ENERGY BOARD DECLARES DIVIDEND ON COMMON STOCK
The Board of Directors of Xcel has declared a quarterly dividend on its common stock of 48.75 cents per share. The dividends are payable July 20, 2022, to shareholders of record on June 15, 2022.

Xcel Energy is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company, with operations in 8 Western and Midwestern states. Xcel Energy provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.7 million electricity customers and 2.1 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies. Company headquarters are located in Minneapolis.

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ALLIANT ENERGY'S NEW PORTAGE BATTERY UNIT CAPABLE OF POWERING 5,000 HOMES

Alliant Energy is building a battery storage unit in Portage that will be able to supply power in short stretches to 5,000 homes. Battery storage units store energy from the sun as alternating current power for later use. The new 5-megawatt energy storage system in Portage will double Alliant Energy’s Midwest battery storage capacity. Alliant, like other utilities, has been piloting advances in battery storage technology. The Portage unit will be Alliant’s fourth in the state and eighth in the Midwest.

“Battery storage will ensure we continue to deliver safe, clean and reliable energy to our customers as we grow our renewable energy portfolio,” said David de Leon, President of Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin energy company. 

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WISCONSIN'S LARGEST SOLAR FARM WILL BE BUILT IN DANE COUNTY

Wisconsin’s largest solar farm to date has been approved by state regulators, to be constructed later this year on nearly 5,000 acres of farm land in Dane County. The Koshkonong Solar Energy Center will produce enough energy to power about 80,000 homes once it's completed at the end of 2024.

The project is being developed by Invenergy, a Chicago-based developer and will later be sold to Wisconsin Electric Power Company, Wisconsin Public Service Corp. and Madison Gas and Electric Company for $649 million. The solar energy center will include 300 megawatts of solar and a 165 megawatt battery energy storage system on approximately 7 square miles of agricultural land in the towns of Christiana and Deerfield. About 3.75 square miles will be developed for the project.

XCEL ENERGY FOUNDATION LAUNCHES ENERGIZING THE FUTURE GRANT

As the Xcel Energy Foundation opens applications for its 2022 grant program, it’s announcing the launch of Energizing the Future. This new giving plan better aligns Xcel Energy’s business priorities to reflect diversity, equity and inclusion commitments, while creating a stronger community. The Foundation has also increased annual grant funding in 2022 to $4.4 million, from $3.8 million in 2021, for the company’s eight state service area, strengthening the company’s overall community impact.

“We’re only as strong as the communities we serve, and we see these changes as an opportunity to bring even greater value while also recognizing and reinforcing the importance of our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Mark Stoering, president of Xcel Energy, Wisconsin and Michigan. Energizing the Future will consist of three focus areas including STEM career pathways, environmental sustainability and community vitality.

MGE’S NEWEST SOLAR ARRAY SERVES THE CITY OF MADISON AND SCHOOL DISTRICT

Madison Gas and Electric’s latest solar array, the 8-megawatt (MW) Hermsdorf Solar Fields, is fully operational and delivering locally generated, sustainable energy to MGE's distribution grid. The project in southeast Madison provides solar energy to the City of Madison and to the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) under MGE's innovative Renewable Energy Rider (RER).

"We are excited to have this solar array in service, providing carbon-free, cost-effective electricity as we continue to grow our use of renewable energy and move toward net-zero carbon electricity by 2050," said Jeff Keebler, MGE Chairman, President and CEO. "Thank you to the City of Madison and MMSD for their partnership on this project, which provides another source of locally generated clean energy and is another step toward our shared sustainability goals."

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ALLIANT ENERGY & UW–MADISON COLLABORATE

Alliant Energy and the University of Wisconsin–Madison will partner on a solar and agricultural research project to be established on university owned land just west of Lake Kegonsa.

The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System has approved a request from UW–Madison to enter into a lease agreement with Alliant Energy and proceed with the development of the solar and agricultural research project at their Kegonsa Research Campus.

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PEOPLE | May 2022

AMERICAN TRANSMISSION COMPANY ANNOUNCES PROMOTION
American Transmission Co. has named Greg Levesque Vice President of External Affairs and Communications.

In this newly created position, Levesque will oversee policy, government affairs, real estate, environmental, customer relations, interconnection services, local relations and corporate communications.

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WEC ENERGY GROUP ANNOUNCES HYDROGEN POWER PILOT PROGRAM

WEC Energy Group has announced that it is leading a pilot project to test hydrogen as a fuel source for power generation. The company will test co-firing hydrogen with natural gas at one of its power generation plants in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. This is one of the first hydrogen power pilot programs of its kind in the United States.

WEC Energy Group has set some of the most aggressive environmental goals in the energy industry, including net-zero carbon emissions from electric generation by 2050 and net-zero methane emissions from natural gas distribution by the end of 2030. This pilot continues that industry leadership and could help create another viable option for decarbonizing the economy. 

"We're pleased to take a leading role in testing hydrogen in our modern natural gas fueled generation units," according to Gale Klappa, Executive Chairman. "As we bring more renewable energy online, we must ensure that we can keep the lights on when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing. The potential of adding hydrogen as a clean generating fuel to our fleet of dispatchable plants is an important step as we bridge to a bright, sustainable future." 

During the pilot project, hydrogen and natural gas will be mixed up to a 25/75 percent blend to power one of the generating units that serves customers of Upper Michigan Energy Resources, a WEC Energy Group subsidiary. The units use a technology known as RICE — reciprocating internal combustion engines. The engines were manufactured by technology company Wärtsilä and began service in 2019.  

WEC Energy Group is partnering with the Electric Power Research Institute the world's preeminent independent, non-profit energy research and development organization, driving innovation to ensure the public has clean, safe, reliable, affordable, and equitable access to electricity across the globe.

ATC BACKS LEGISLATION ON RIGHTS TO TRANSMISSION EXPANSION

The American Transmission Company is urging Wisconsin lawmakers to pass legislation (Senate Bill 838 and Assembly Bill 892) that would provide a right of first refusal for incumbent transmission line owners when building new lines and maintain important Wisconsin based regulatory oversight over the approval process.

Without this legislation, new transmission line projects could be subject to a new, complex, and often contentious federal approval process that could lead to significant delays and loss of Wisconsin based regulatory authority. This legislation will ensure that we continue to have a Wisconsin focused approach to transmission line planning and approval.

The Wisconsin bill enjoys bipartisan support in the legislature including both Republicans and Democrats who sit on legislative committees that oversee utilities. It has attracted an unusual collection of opponents including environmental groups and Americans for Prosperity.

Most midwestern states have adopted similar legislation including Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan. WUI is supporting Senate Bill 838 and Assembly Bill 892 because any expansion of Wisconsin’s transmission infrastructure needs to continue to be based on Wisconsin’s needs and circumstances and be subject to PSC approval and oversight.

ALLIANT ENERGY NAMED ONE OF AMERICA’S BEST MIDSIZE EMPLOYERS

For the fourth year in a row, Alliant Energy was named to Forbes list of America’s Best Midsize Employers. Presented by Forbes and Statista Inc., the list spans 25 industry sectors and recognizes 500 large and 500 midsize employers in the United States.

“This recognizes the great people at Alliant Energy and the way they bring our purpose to life,” said Diane Cooke, Vice President of Human Resources at Alliant Energy. “Guided by a shared purpose of supporting customers and building stronger communities, we work together to create a safe workplace where everyone feels like they belong and can use their unique backgrounds, talents and perspectives to their fullest potential.”

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NEW WPS RENEWABLE ENERGY FACILITY ADDED

WPS has announced it has added another renewable energy facility near Lake Julia in Rhinelander. The facility, which is officially named Hodag Solar Park, is the first large-scale solar park in the Northwoods region to date. Featuring 21,000 solar panels that can capture solar energy on both sides. The Hodag Solar Park is reportedly capable of generating 7.5 megawatts, which is equal to powering more than 2,000 homes.

“This project is another example of our commitment to delivering affordable, reliable, and clean energy to our customers,” according to Scott Lauber, WPS President. “We’re proud to add another source of renewable energy to power homes and businesses in north-central Wisconsin.”

MGE INCREASES ENERGY 2030 CARBON REDUCTION GOAL TO EIGHTY PERCENT

Consistent with its commitment to sustainable energy and to global climate science, Madison Gas and Electric is committing to reducing carbon at least eighty percent by 2030 as it works toward achieving net-zero carbon electricity by 2050. Under its Energy 2030 framework, announced in 2015, the company set a goal of forty percent carbon reduction by 2030, one of the first such goals set by a utility and in alignment with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Since then, the company has said it fully expects to achieve carbon reductions of at least sixty-five percent by 2030. In 2019, MGE established its goal of net-zero carbon electricity by mid-century, consistent with climate science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and analysis of the company’s goal by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

PEOPLE: XCEL ENERGY ANNOUNCES NEW CHIEF HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER

Bob Frenzel, Xcel Energy’s Chairman, President and CEO, has announced that Patricia Correa joined the company on February 1, 2022 as the new chief human resources officer (CHRO). Correa replaces Darla Figoli, the company’s former Executive Vice President and CHRO whose last day was March 1.