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CONSTRUCTION SET TO START ON THE 440-ACRE SOLAR PROJECT IN ROCK COUNTY

Ownership of the 50-megawatt North Rock Solar Project, located in the Town of Fulton within Rock County, is officially transitioning from National Grid Renewables to Alliant Energy. This milestone follows recent approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin on Alliant Energy’s filing for 675 megawatts of solar.

EARNINGS: SECOND QUARTER

WEC ENERGY GROUP DECLARES QUARTERLY DIVIDEND
The Board of Directors of WEC Energy Group has declared a quarterly cash dividend of 67.75 cents per share on the company’s common stock. The dividend was payable September 1, 2021, to stockholders of record on August 13, 2021. This marks the 316th consecutive quarter, dating back to 1942, that the company will have paid a dividend to its stockholders.

WEC ENERGY GROUP REPORTS SECOND-QUARTER RESULTS
WEC Energy Group has reported net income of $276.0 million, or 87 cents per share, for the second quarter of 2021 – up from $241.6 million, or 76 cents per share, for the second quarter last year. For the first six months of 2021, the company recorded net income of $786.1 million, or $2.49 per share – up from $694.1 million, or $2.19 per share, in the corresponding period a year ago. Consolidated revenues totaled $4.4 billion for the first six months of 2021, up $710.3 million from revenues for the first half of 2020.
MGEE SECOND QUARTER EARNINGS
MGE Energy has reported second-quarter net income of $22.9 million. The company said it had profit of 63 cents per share. The public utility holding company posted revenue of $130.7 million in the period. MGE shares have increased thirteen percent since the beginning of the year. The stock has increased twenty-two percent in the last 12 months.
ALLIANT ENERGY ANNOUNCES SECOND QUARTER 2021 RESULTS
Alliant Energy Corporation has announced U.S. generally accepted accounting principles consolidated unaudited earnings per share (EPS) for the three months ended June 30 as follows:
“Our purpose-driven strategy has once again delivered solid financial and operating results,” said John Larsen, Alliant Energy Chair, President and CEO. “We recently hosted an ESG Investor Day, showcasing our Corporate Responsibility Report and highlighting our position as a leading utility in the renewable energy transition. We are pleased to share that solid results through the first half of the year have us currently tracking toward the upper half of our 2021 earnings guidance.”

MGE CELEBRATES COMPLETION OF ONE SOLAR PROJECT AND GROUNDBREAKING OF ANOTHER

On July 27, 2021, a crowd of stakeholders, energy professionals, university staff, faculty, and students gathered to celebrate O’Brien Solar Fields, which are currently the largest solar installation in Dane County. The 140-acre solar field includes 60,318 bifacial panels located along a straight stretch of Seminole Highway in Fitchburg.
While two  days later on the East side of Madison, Madison Gas and Electric representatives were joined by themayor of the City of Madison, representatives of NextEra Energy Resources and members of the Hermsdorf family to celebrate the groundbreaking for an 8-megawatt (MW) solar array in Madison known as the Hermsdorf Solar Fields. The Hermsdorf Solar Fields will provide locally generated solar energy to the City of Madison and the Madison Metropolitan School District under MGE’s innovative Renewable Energy Rider.

MEET THE WUI BOARD OF DIRECTOR NOMINEES

WILLIAM (BILL) FINKE received his Civil Engineering degree from the Univ. of Cincinnati in 1960 followed by his M.B.A. from Xavier University. After graduation, Bill served the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a First Lieutenant, Platoon Leader, and Supply Officer. After his military service, Bill returned to Marquette University Law School where he received his J.D.
For the next 45 years, Bill worked for the Wisconsin Energy Corporation (now WEC Energy Group, Inc.) where he retired as the Senior Corporate Counsel. Bill’s love of trains is evidenced in his early surveying and drafting work as an engineering co-op student during his undergrad years to his pro bono work in retirement for the East Troy Railroad Museum, Inc. d/b/a East Troy Electric Railroad. Bill is active in many community organizations, including the American Legion and Veterans.

THOMAS HANSON retired from Alliant Energy Corporation (AEC) as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2016 after a 36-year career with the company. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin with degrees in Accounting and Transportation & Public Utilities, Hansen served AEC his entire career. Working his way up from Accounting to Accounting Supervisor, he worked on tax, treasury, internal audits, and financial planning areas.
He was responsible for strategic planning, investor relations, IT, and insurance and risk management. Hansen served as chair of the Executive Review and Risk Committee, Executive IT Steering Committee, and Investment Committee. Since retiring, Hansen has been volunteering on the boards of multiple non-profits, traveling with his wife, spending time with their 6 grandchildren, and restoring prairie flowers/grasses at their property in Richland County.

CARDINAL-HICKORY CREEK CONCERNS PROMPT UTILITIES TO SEEK NEW PERMIT

American Transmission Company and ITC Midwest have filed requests with the Public Service Commission to rescind the permit for the $492 million Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line and reopen the proceedings “to consider next steps.”
The companies had learned that former Commissioner Mike Huebsch had regular communications with an ATC employee, a former ITC contractor, and other individuals over several years while the permit application was before the PSC.
The permit for the line had already been facing legal challenges. The utilities say they don’t know if the messages were related to the project but want to maintain “transparency in the regulatory process.” “The individuals involved in this situation have maintained longstanding personal relationships with each other; however, we are aware this information raises concerns about one of the Commissioners who granted approval of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Project,” ATC President and CEO Mike Rowe said in a prepared statement. “We understand the speculation this presents, which is also why we have made this unique request to the PSCW and are sharing this information with our employees, our stakeholders and Dane County Circuit Court.”

XCEL SCRAPPING PLAN TO BUILD NEW 800-MW GAS-FIRED PLANT

Xcel Energy is pivoting from its plan to build a new 800-MW natural gas-fired power plant at the site of its Sherco coal-fired facility in Becker, Minnesota. Instead, Xcel plans to build two smaller gas-fired “peaker” plants, one in Minnesota and one in North Dakota, as part of a new initiative for the utility’s power generation in the Midwest.

Xcel also proposed two repowered gas-fired plants — one in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, and another in Wisconsin — that also would run only during periods of high demand for electricity. The utility, based in Minneapolis and with operations in eight states, outlined its proposal in a plan submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on June 25.

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FEDERAL LICENSING BOARD CONSIDERS CHALLENGE TO WISCONSIN'S LAST NUCLEAR PLANT

A Wisconsin advocacy group has argued that the state’s last operational nuclear power plant shouldn't have their license extended given the environmental impact and safety concerns about the aging infrastructure.
Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin; an antinuclear nonprofit group of health care professionals based in Madison, filed a petition in March challenging the application to renew Point Beach Nuclear Plant’s licenses for an additional 20 years. The Two Rivers power plant is owned by NextEra Energy and its current licenses expire in 2030 and 2033.

ALLIANT SEEKS RATE INCREASE

Alliant Energy has reached a deal with consumer and environmental advocates to raise gas and electricity rates next year as the utility begins phasing out its coal fleet. If approved by regulators, the new rates would add about $8.50 a month to the typical residential electricity bill and about $5 a month to the average gas bill. Electric rates would not change in 2023, though there could be an adjustment to gas costs.
Alliant says the rate hike is needed to cover the cost of investing nearly $1 billion in solar generation to replace two coal-fired plants, a plan the company projects will save up to $2 billion over the next four decades. While its 475,000 ratepayers will be asked to pay off the remaining $500 million balance on the Edgewater coal plant in Sheboygan, scheduled to close next year, debt restructuring will slightly lower the company's profit on that investment.

CONSTRUCTION UNDERWAY FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLE FAST CHARGER HUB IN DOWNTOWN MADISON

Madison Gas and Electric continues to advance sustainable transportation with construction of a new electric vehicle (EV) fast charging hub in the heart of the city’s Capitol East District. One of the first of its kind in Wisconsin, the charging hub located at East Washington Avenue and South Livingston Street is expected to begin serving EV drivers later this year.

XCEL ENERGY RECEIVES APPROVAL TO BUILD LARGEST SOLAR PROJECT IN WESTERN WISCONSIN

Xcel Energy’s clean energy transition has taken another significant step forward with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin’s approval of a 74-megawatt solar array in Pierce County, Wis. When completed, the Western Mustang project will be owned and operated by Xcel Energy and be the largest solar facility in western Wisconsin.

“We are pleased to invest in this locally sourced solar facility to provide more renewable energy to our customers,” said
Mark Stoering, president, Xcel Energy, Wisconsin and Michigan. “This project allows us to provide clean, zero-fuel cost energy to help us meet our carbon reduction goals cost effectively and, at the same time, provide economic
development benefits to the area.”

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MGE COMPLETES FITCHBURG SOLAR FARM

Madison Gas and Electric has completed work on Dane County’s largest solar farm to date, which will provide clean energy to local governments and businesses.
MGE President Jeff Keebler said the $31.7 million O’Brien Solar Field in Fitchburg demonstrates that the utility can work with customers to reduce carbon emissions in a cost effective way.
MGE has contracts with the state of Wisconsin, UW Madison, the city of Fitchburg and local businesses Placon Corp., Promega Corp., Tribe 9 Foods and the Willy Street Co-op to buy the project’s energy output.

POTOSI RESIDENTS APPEAL STATE'S APPROVAL OF 1,400-ACRE SOLAR FARM

Potosi residents opposed to the construction of a 1,400- acre solar farm in Grant County have filed a petition with Wisconsin’s utility regulatory agency, seeking a rehearing after the state signed off on the project in May. 

Opponents said the Public Service Commission “abdicated its powers and duties” by approving the 200-megawatt project without sufficiently investigating potential impacts, requiring environmental review and initiating fact-finding studies.
The groundbreaking on the $250 million Grant County Solar Energy Center is expected to occur this fall. The developer,
NextEra Energy Resources, said the 200-megawatt facility could enter service as early as 2022.

MGE'S SHARED SOLAR PROGRAM IS FULLY SUBSCRIBED

Madison Gas and Electric's community solar program, Shared Solar, is now fully subscribed. This optional program provides more than 2,000 residential and business electric customers with sustainable, carbon-free energy from two local areas.

The program, which began serving customers in 2017, expanded with the addition of a 5-megawatt solar array in Middleton. Shared Solar provides customers throughout MGE's electric service territory an easy and affordable way
to power their home or business with local solar. 

WPS PEREGRINE FALCONS SPREAD THEIR WINGS, LEAVE WESTON POWER PLANT NEST BOX

A pair of peregrine falcon chicks nesting at Wisconsin Public Service's (WPS) Weston Power Plant in Rothschild have officially earned their wings by taking their first flights and leaving their nest box.

Courage, a male falcon, took to the skies first earlier last month, with his sister, Siren, learning to soar a couple days later. Both falcons were named in honor of some of the many heroes and helpers of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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WEC ENERGY GROUP REPORTS SOLID FIRST-QUARTER RESULTS

WEC Energy Group has reported net income of $510.1 million, or $1.61 per share, for the first quarter of 2021 – up from $452.5 million, or $1.43 per share, from last year’s first quarter.
Consolidated revenues totaled $2.7 billion, up $582.8 million from last year’s first quarter. “Our positive first-quarter results were driven by colder weather, economic recovery in our region and a strong focus on operating excellence,” said Gale Klappa, Executive Chairman. “Our people and our infrastructure were put to the test and performed remarkably during a
bitter cold stretch in February when temperatures in the northern portion of our service area dropped to minus 42 degrees Fahrenheit. Ongoing investments in our energy grid and our diverse fuel mix kept the economy moving and our 4.6
million customers warm and safe.”

WEC ENERGY GROUP SETS ENVIRONMENTAL GOALS

WEC Energy Group has unveiled a series of new and more aggressive environmental goals. The company says it is committing to a sixty percent reduction in carbon emissions at its electric plants by 2025, relative to 2005 levels, and an eighty percent reduction by 2030. That’s up from its previous goal of seventy percent by 2030, with the utility last year having pledged to become net carbon neutral by 2050.
The company says it plans to reach those targets in part through a $16 billion-plus capital investment plan. The plan calls for billions in investments in renewable energy projects.

XCEL TO LAUNCH INNOVATIVE NEW PROGRAM TO SUPPORT MICROGRIDS

Xcel Energy has received approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to begin offering the state’s first program to support microgrids and other resiliency projects for large business customers and governmental entities who require a higher than standard service reliability.
The Resiliency as a Service Program provides support through Xcel Energy ownership, installation, operation and maintenance of resiliency assets such as battery storage, renewable energy arrays and back-up generators at a customer’s location. The program allows customers to choose resiliency options that best meet their needs and work with Xcel Energy and its contractors to design, construct and maintain their system.
“We have had discussions with many different customers who, for various reasons, have significant resiliency needs, and in many cases, those needs are coupled with sustainability goals as well,” said Mark Stoering, president, Xcel Energy-Wisconsin.

WUI LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

By James Buchen, WUI Executive Director

The Wisconsin Legislature began it’s 2021- 22 session in January and is currently in the middle of deliberations on the State Budget. The Budget, as introduced by Governor Evers in February, contains a number of energy related provisions that may be adverse to utility shareholder interests. Fortunately, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee has voted to remove these provisions and they are unlikely to be included in the final version of the Budget which is expected to pass sometime in late June. 

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MGE, ALLIANT SEEK ELECTRICITY RATE HIKES FOR 2022

Madison Gas and Electric and Alliant Energy have each filed applications asking regulators to approve electric and gas rate hikes for 2022. These would be the first increases in five years. MGE is requesting a 5.9 percent increase for its electricity revenue, which the company proposes to offset with excess collections that resulted from lower than expected fuel costs in 2020. If approved, that would add about $4.91 a month to the typical residential bill, according to MGE’s estimates.
The company is also seeking annual increases of about three percent and 1.7 percent for natural gas rates in 2022 and 2023,which the company says would cost residential consumers an additional $17.75 next year and $8.30 in 2023.
MGE says the rate increase is needed to begin paying off new investments in renewable energy resources, including the
company’s one-third share of the $400 million Badger Hollow solar farm under construction in Iowa County. Alliant Energy
notified regulators Wednesday that it has agreed with consumer and environmental advocates on elements of a rate case that include a 6.2 percent increase to electricity revenues and an 8.4 percent increase in gas revenue.

ANOTHER CARDINAL-HICKORY LAWSUIT

The proposed high-voltage power line between northern Iowa and southwestern Wisconsin faces yet another legal challenge.
Environmental groups have sued the Army Corps of Engineers in federal court over its permit allowing utilities to place towers in the Mississippi River for the $492 million project known as Cardinal-Hickory Creek. The National Wildlife Refuge Association, Driftless Area Land Conservancy and three other organizations say the agency violated federal environmental law by failing to take a “hard look” at the environmental consequences of the 101-mile line on public waters and lands, wildlife, recreation and property values.
“The Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Project is vital to the future of our region’s renewable energy and clean energy economy,” the utilities said.