Filtered by author: Megan Purtell Clear Filter

Meet 2020 Board of Director Nominee: Connie Lawniczak

Connie Lawniczak began her career at Wisconsin Public Service in 1981 as a student employee in the Electric Distribution Department. Following her graduation from the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, she joined the Environmental Services Department. Connie held positions of increasing responsibility in the environmental group until becoming the Assistant to the President in 2004. At the end of this developmental position, she attended the Executive Education Program at the Harvard Business School and then was promoted to Director - Environmental Services. As the leader of the department, she was responsible for a staff providing environmental services to the entire Integrys organization in multiple states for both the regulated and unregulated businesses. Much of the group’s work was focused on air and water permitting/compliance for both generation and distribution operations and improving environmental performance corporate-wide. Her group was also responsible for shoreline and forestry management, hydroelectric licensing and compliance, solid and hazardous waste management, emergency planning and spill response, project construction permitting/compliance, remediation of historic sites, natural resources management, laboratory services, and auditing. In her role, she was responsible for environmental strategic planning, development of Company positions on proposed legislation and rules, and participation in negotiations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Federal Regulatory Commission, and the Public Service Commission. She also facilitated the Environmental and Safety Committee of the Integrys Board of Directors. In 2014, Connie was promoted to Assistant Vice President - Environmental and Shared Services. In this role, she was responsible for assisting in the management of the corporate shared services organization and the transition services provided to the Upper Peninsula Power Company following Integrys’ sale of that utility.

Over the course of her 37 year career, Connie had many opportunities to work at the local, state, and national level on numerous environmental policies, programs, rulemakings, and legislation directly and as a member of committees at the Wisconsin Utility Association, Electric Power Research Institute, Edison Electric Institute, and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board and the Trees for Tomorrow Environmental Education Center. Following the acquisition of Integrys Energy by WEC Energy in 2015, Connie served as the Manager - Air Quality Services until her retirement in 2018.

Meet 2020 Board of Director Nominee: Gregory Bollom

Greg retired from Madison Gas and Electric Company in September 2020. At the time he retired, he was Assistant Vice President and Regulatory Consultant with responsibility for providing expert insight and research into regulatory and rate issues across the country. During his almost 38 years career at MGE his responsibilities included generation planning, transmission policy, electric and natural gas sales and revenue forecasting and electric and natural gas pricing. At the time he retired, Greg served as Co-Chair of the Edison Electric Institute Customer Solutions Executive Advisory Committee and as a member of its Electric Transportation Subcommittee. He also served on the Advisory Committee for the Critical Consumer Issues Forum, a collaboration of state utility commissioners, consumer advocates and electric utilities to address important consumer issues at the forefront of the energy policy debate, the Board of the Wisconsin Public Utility Institute, and the Advisory Council for the Center for Public Utilities at New Mexico State University.

Outside of work, Greg has been a longtime volunteer in the Destination Imagination (creative problem solving) program, a role he continues in his retirement.

Greg has a B.A. degree in economics from St. Norbert College and a M.S. degree in economics from the University of Wisconsin.


The Public Service Commission has ordered Alliant Energy, Xcel and Wisconsin Public Service Corporation to return about $28.3 million to customers in September. Madison Gas and Electric will be allowed to retain about $1.5 million in customer funds while it negotiates with customer advocates on rates for the next two years.

The investor-owned utilities collected an extra $29 million in 2019 as lower natural gas prices, renegotiated contracts and market sales resulted in fuel costs that were lower than forecast.

Under state law, actual fuel costs can vary up to two percent from the estimates: if actual costs fall below the threshold, utilities must refund the difference, plus interest; if actual costs go above, utilities can collect it from ratepayers.

We Energies, the state’s largest utility, reported actual costs were less than one percent below forecast, meaning the company can retain the $6.3 million difference. The utility has asked for a rate increase, saying it needs to collect about $26.5 million more in 2021 to cover the rising cost of electricity from the Point Beach nuclear plant.

Based on the utilities’ projected September sales, residential customers of Xcel would see the largest refunds, about $13 on average. Average residential refunds would be around $8.50 for Alliant customers and $4.70 for WPS customers.


Construction of one of Wisconsin’s first large-scale solar farms could be delayed because of pending tariffs on imported solar panels. Madison Gas and Electric and We Energies had notified state regulators of plans to push back the startup date for the 150-megawatt project, known as Badger Hollow II, until December 2022 in order to stay within the approved $195 million budget.

The utilities said the delay was needed to allow the developer, Invenergy, to manage acquisition of hundreds of thousands of solar panels, which could soon be subject to a 20% import tariff if the Trump administration is successful in withdrawing an exemption for “bifacial” panels. Such panels use glass backing to capture additional sunlight reflected off the ground.


A plan to build a plant in southern Wisconsin that would store liquefied natural gas is moving forward, according to documents filed with the Town of Ixonia Plan Commission. We Energies and Wisconsin Gas are seeking approval to build the plant on 164 acres in the town near Hill and North roads. The planned permanent facilities on the Ixonia property would cover 27 acres, according to We Energies. 

The two utilities, which have 1.1 million customers, have proposed building liquefied natural gas storage plants in Jefferson County and in Bluff Creek in Walworth County. The two plants are projected to cost a total of $370 million and would store natural gas at temperatures of 260 degrees below zero.

Read More


As businesses in Wisconsin begin to slowly re-open, they will be looking for ways to save money on their energy bills. To assist them, Xcel Energy is offering free virtual energy visits that comply with health and safety guidelines introduced during the coronavirus pandemic outbreak. 

Typically, Xcel Energy team members would be available to visit on site with businesses to discuss energy efficiency projects, but due to COVID-19 the company developed new ways to provide this important service to customers. During the audio or video discussion with business owners, Xcel Energy Mid-Market team members will identify the most cost-effective opportunities for energy savings, potential rebates available from Focus on Energy and Xcel Energy and advice for future projects to save even more energy and money.


We Energies and its parent company, WEC Energy Group have announced they will make a $100,000 donation to help local businesses that sustained damage during recent protests. The grant money will be provided by the We Energies  Foundation to the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) Community Foundation’s Rebuild and Revitalize fund.

The Rebuild and Revitalize program provides grants to affected business owners to fund repairs, replace inventory and meet other needs. These include businesses in the Martin Luther King Drive, Harambee, Sherman Park and Near South Side neighborhoods.


The Xcel Energy Foundation has awarded nearly $320,000 to sixty-three nonprofits in Wisconsin and Michigan to help provide funding for critical programs in their communities. This represents in increase in giving by the Xcel Energy Foundation to support existing nonprofit partners that are facing difficulties during the pandemic. Earlier this year, in response to Covid-19, the Foundation also provided funds to organizations that address food insecurity “At Xcel Energy we’re doing our part to support our customers and communities during this very challenging time,” said Mark Stoering, President, Xcel Energy-Wisconsin and Michigan. “Our mission is to provide our customers safe, clean, reliable energy services, but we also know that the quality of life in our communities is equally important to their continued success.”


Alliant Energy Transportation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Alliant Energy Corporation, has announced the company is changing its name to Travero. The new name connects the company’s resources into one brand and furthers its commitment of delivering solutions that allow customers to move freight creatively and competitively. The company offers innovative and comprehensive logistics services, including rail transportation, freight management services, warehousing and trans loading.


The Board of Directors of WEC Energy Group has declared a quarterly cash dividend of 63.25 cents per share on the company’s common stock.
The dividend is payable September 1, 2020, to stockholders of record on August 14, 2020. This marks the 312th consecutive quarter, dating back to 1942, that the company will have paid a dividend to its stockholders.


Xcel Energy has elected Charles Pardee to its board of directors. Pardeee, who goes by “Chip,” brings over thirty eight years of experience in the energy industry, having held leadership roles in both nuclear and non-nuclear operations. He currently serves as President of Terrestrial Energy, USA in Connecticut. He is also the Chair and Director of the Committee on Nuclear Power for the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation in the United Arab Emirates. He also sits on the nuclear safety advisory board for the Tokyo Electric Power company.
Previously, Pardee was Chief Operating Officer of the Tennessee Valley Authority, overseeing operations, financial management, strategic planning and regulatory management, among other responsibilities. 
He spent 12 years with Exelon Corporation where he held leadership roles as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nuclear Officer, among others. He has worked with several other energy companies, including Florida Power Corporation, Carolina Power and Light, as well as the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations. 
Pardee is an expert in risk management, plant operations, financial stewardship, environmental governance and board oversight. He graduated from Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management program and holds a B.S. in Marine Engineering Systems from the United States Merchant Marine Academy. He served as Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy for nine years.
“We are delighted to welcome Chip to our Board of Directors and look forward to the vast experience and knowledge he will bring to our organization,” according to Ben Fowke, Chairman and CEO of Xcel Energy. “He is an exceptional leader and will be a true asset to our board.”
Patricia Sampson has announced her retirement from the Board of Directors after thirty-five years. She is the CEO and President of The Sampson Group, Inc., a management development and strategic planning consulting business. She previously served as CEO of the Greater Minneapolis Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.


Customers who fall behind on their utility bills will soon face late fees and the prospect of having their power shut off after three months of government protection during the coronavirus pandemic. The Public Service Commission has voted unanimously to lift a moratorium on disconnections and other penalties that was put in place following executive orders issued by Gov. Tony Evers in March. Utilities will be allowed to send disconnection notices beginning July 15 to customers who are behind on their bills and have not worked out payment plans. Those customers could see power turned off as soon as July 25.


The newly built West Riverside Energy Center near Beloit, Wisconsin, has officially put into service its 730-megawatt, combined-cycle, natural gas system, generating energy for customers of Alliant Energy. “We are proud to put our West Riverside Energy Center into service to provide reliable and affordable energy to our customers and communities,” according to David de Leon, President of Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin energy company. “Community support, strong partnerships, and hard work by countless employees, contractors, and suppliers made this a successful project. We appreciate the collaboration we have with the neighbors, the town and city of Beloit, Rock County, the state of Wisconsin, and the many other organizations, businesses, and individuals who continue to support this facility.”


Heavy rains have caused a major headache for We Energies. The company issued the following statement: “Heavy rain has caused flooding in parts of our steam system in Downtown Milwaukee – creating large steam plumes in parts of downtown. We are investigating a steam system outage that is impacting some customers.” We Energies officials say they don’t know what exactly caused the system of underground steam tunnels in downtown Milwaukee to be flooded with an unprecedented “tidal wave” of water during a major rainstorm. Not only did the steam outage leave hundreds of businesses without heat and hot water for several days, it did major damage to We Energies’ historic headquarters at North 2nd and West Michigan streets. “The estimate to repair is more than $10 million and may take as long as two months before we can reopen the building,” We Energies spokesman Brendan Conway said.


In-person meter reading, which had been temporarily on hold for Xcel Energy’s Wisconsin and Michigan’s residential customers since mid-April due to COVID-19 concerns, has resumed. While many electric and gas meters are read automatically, some require an in-person reading. If customers have one of these meters, they should allow in-person meter readers and field crews to do their critical work.


Emissions this year are expected to be significantly lower than they were 15 years ago, thanks to recent coal plant retirements. The findings are part of a draft Strategic Energy Assessment, a short-term forecast the Public Service Commission is required by law to complete every two years to look at the adequacy and reliability of the state’s electric grid. According to the draft, Wisconsin electric providers as a whole are on track to achieve a forty percent reduction of 2005 carbon emissions by 2026 — ahead of the 2030 target some have laid out.


With an eye toward delivering cleaner, more cost-effective energy, Alliant Energy has announced plans to retire the Edgewater Generating Station in Sheboygan by the end of 2022. Closing the coal generation facility and transitioning to renewable energy will help Alliant Energy customers avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in long-term costs.


Xcel Energy transmission patrol crew has been flying helicopters alongside lines in Wisconsin to perform inspections to ensure the electric system remains reliable through the summer cooling months. The inspections also meet federal regulatory compliance requirements to secure a reliable electric system.
The crews will identify potential trouble spots along these lines or structural issues that need to be addressed and repaired. They will also look for encroachment issues, such as buildings on or near right of ways, or trees growing too close to transmission lines. Inspections on all Xcel Energy transmission lines in Wisconsin will take about 4-6 weeks. Helicopters will fly within fifty feet of transmission lines at varying speeds. At times the helicopter will hover near infrastructure to perform more detailed inspections. The exact flight schedule is dependent on weather and flying conditions.


Madison Gas and Electric has filed an application with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) for approval of a 20-megawatt solar array to be built in Fitchburg, Wisconsin. Known as the O’Brien Solar Fields, the project will provide locally generated solar energy to local businesses, municipalities and public institutions under MGE’s innovative Renewable Energy Rider.

“This is an exciting project for our participating customers and for MGE. Twenty megawatts of locally generated, cost effective carbon-free energy on our electric grid will help us achieve our goal of net-zero carbon electricity by 2050
and the sustainability goals of these customers,” according to MGE Chairman, President and CEO Jeff Keebler. “We
are thankful for their support and their participation and look forward to bringing what will be one of the largest solar
arrays in the state to Dane County.”


Alliant Energy has announced plans to acquire and advance 675 megawatts (MW) of solar in mostly rural areas in six Wisconsin counties: Grant, Jefferson, Richland, Rock, Sheboygan and Wood. The projects are the next step in the company’s Clean Energy Blueprint, a strategic road map to cost-effectively accelerate renewable energy while reducing carbon emissions. 

Once operational, the energy from the projects will be enough to power 175,000 homes per year – making Alliant Energy the largest owner-operator of solar in Wisconsin. Collectively, these projects are expected to create more than 1,200 local construction jobs, and, once operational, will provide an estimated $80 million in local tax revenues over the next 30 years.
“Solar energy is a smart investment for our Wisconsin customers,” said David de Leon, President of Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin energy company. “At a time when much is changing, these projects will provide steady revenue to Wisconsin communities, create new construction, operation and maintenance jobs, and provide our customers with reliable and sustainable energy for years to come. Along with the rest of the Clean Energy Blueprint, these projects will help customers avoid more than $2 billion in long-term costs.”

Read More