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ALLIANT PROPOSES STEADY RATES

In May, Alliant Energy submitted a proposal to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) requesting to keep its rates steady into 2021. Recently, the PSCW approved the plan. It continues the company’s ongoing efforts to maintain rates that are among the lowest in Wisconsin. The approval of the plan provides customers with certainty – at a time when so many things are uncertain – during the ongoing pandemic. Alliant believes keeping rates steady is the sensible approach. The company also continues to support customers by providing flexibility in payment arrangements. With guidance from the PSCW, service disconnections were suspended until October 1.

2020 WUI VIRTUAL ANNUAL MEETING OF MEMBERS

Thank you to everyone who virtually attended this year’s WUI Annual Meeting of Members. Your board of directors appreciates you taking time to join us. The board is also grateful to all members who participated in the proxy vote by either mailing-in or submitting your votes on-line. The COVID -19 pandemic of 2020 has pushed us into our homes and into an unknown, ever-changing virtual world. WUI is grateful for your support, voice, and participation.

Chairman of the Board, Roger Cole, led this year’s virtual Annual Business meeting. Roger announced the results from the proxy vote for the Annual Meeting: the acceptance of the 2019 Board minutes; Jeff West and Roger Cole were re-elected to the board of directors; and election of Connie Lawniczek and Gregory Bollom to the Board of Directors. Following Kenyon Kies’ treasurer’s report, Executive Director James Buchen presented the 2019-2020 legislative update.

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XCEL ENERGY LAUNCHES NEW EV CHARGING PROGRAM

Xcel Energy is launching a new electric vehicle program for business customers that would simplify and significantly lower the cost to install EV charging equipment. Under the EV program, business and community customers have the option to purchase charging equipment from Xcel Energy, or they can choose to obtain their own charging equipment independently.

“Electric vehicles are a great opportunity for our business customers to save money on transportation costs,” said Mark Stoering, President Xcel Energy-Wisconsin. “Moving forward on EV programs not only benefits the EV owners, but everyone by reducing carbon emissions and air pollution.”

The program aligns with Xcel Energy’s vision to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels in the electricity provided to customers and to supply 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050.

“We are happy to be one of the first organizations to use Xcel Energy’s new electric vehicle charging programs,” said Pat Daoust, Manager, Bay Area Rural Transit (BART). “This program will significantly reduce our up-front costs to install the EV charging necessary to power our new EV buses and provide us long-term savings on our fuel and maintenance costs.” The BART System has routes that operate in 11 communities within three counties around the Chequamegon Bay Region (Northern Wisconsin on Lake Superior). BART expects to have its new bus in service in early 2021.

Businesses and municipalities have different types of fleet needs — from daily work operations to retail delivery functions. By replacing fossil-fuel vehicles with plug-in electric hybrid or all-electric options customers will see these added benefits:

  • Charge for the equivalent of less than $1 per gallon of gas
  • Avoid unpredictable swings in fuel costs
  • Reduce maintenance costs
  • Reduce carbon emissions on the road
  • Improve public and employee health
  • Enhance sustainability, credibility and image
  • Qualify for programs to lower the costs of EVs and charging equipment

DEMOCRAT LAWMAKERS SEEK REVIEW OF CARDINAL-HICKORY CREEK POWER LINE

Several lawmakers are calling on federal officials to reexamine the impacts of a power line on the Mississippi River and surrounding national refuge. In separate letters, Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin and Representative Ron Kind questioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s plans to grant an easement through the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge for the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line.

The high-voltage line will use 14 towers ̶ up to 20 stories high ̶ to carry wires along a 260-foot-wide corridor through the refuge from the Turkey River bottoms in Iowa to the site of a former power plant north of Cassville. The project would involve about 39 acres of the 240,000-acre refuge. Baldwin said her primary concern is the harm to migratory birds and that the chosen route does not minimize the impacts.

MGE PROPOSES ELECTRICITY RATE FREEZE, 4% NATURAL GAS HIKE

The utility filed an application Friday, October 28, with the Public Service Commission for a one-year rate structure that has the approval of consumer and renewable-energy advocates as well as one of the utility’s largest customers, though the Sierra Club plans to contest it, saying the rate freeze will simply result in bigger hikes down the road.

If approved, the deal is expected to cost the average household about $27 a year more for gas. MGE is proposing to use 2019 fuel savings — which normally would be refunded to customers — and to put off collection of some expenses until 2022 to offset the need for an electric rate increase next year.

XCEL ENERGY SENDS HELP WITH HURRICANE LAURA POWER RESTORATION

Xcel Energy sent employee and contracting crews to areas hit hard by Hurricane Laura to help restore power to the 670,000 customers without electricity following the devastating storm. About 250 Xcel Energy employees and contractors from Wisconsin, Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico and Texas were sent to Louisiana. The company sent line workers along with support and safety staff after receiving the call for mutual assistance. Crews were initially assigned to Entergy Louisiana and Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCo), an AEP company. 

“We wanted to assist the people affected by Hurricane Laura and are honored to be part of this restoration effort,” said Larry Crosby, senior vice president, distribution operations-Xcel Energy. “This is a massive undertaking with extensive
damage, but our crews are ready to bring power back on safely. It’s what we would do for our own customers and we wanted to deliver that same quality of service to the people of Louisiana.”

AWARDS: October 2020

WPS FOUNDATION AWARDS $50,000 TO EVERYDAY HEROES THROUGH REWARDING RESPONDERS GRANT
The Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) Foundation is supporting first responders who keep their communities safe every day. The foundation is providing a total of $50,000 through its Rewarding Responders Grant to 27 emergency response agencies throughout its service area. Some of the agencies receiving grants this year include:

  • De Pere Fire Rescue Department — new water rescue suits.
  • Menominee Police Department — a vehicle transport system for the department’s first K-9 officer.
  • Merrill Fire Department — Versatile protective clothing for firefighters during rescue operations.
  • Tomahawk Fire Department — new automated external defibrillators (AEDs)
  • Town of Wilson/Black River Fire Department — a multi-gas detection meter to alert firefighters to the presence of hazardous gases.

ALLIANT ENERGY ONCE AGAIN A TOP UTILITY IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Alliant Energy has been named a Top Utility in Economic Development by Site Selection magazine. The annual list recognized the company for its contribution to community development, job creation and partnerships with institutions of higher learning in the territories the company serves. For the second year in a row, Alliant Energy is the only Iowa energy company to make the list.

PEOPLE: October 2020

XCEL ENERGY ELECTS NEW BOARD MEMBER
Patricia L. Kampling brings four decades of experience in the energy industry, having recently retired from her role as Chairman and CEO of Alliant Energy Corporation in Madison, Wisconsin. Prior to that, she held leadership roles at Exelon Corporation and the former IPSCO Corporation.

Pat joined Alliant Energy in 2005 as Vice President of Finance and was named Chief Financial Officer in 2009. In 2011, she was named President and Chief Operating Officer and, in 2012, she assumed the role of Chairman and CEO, a position she held until her retirement in July 2019.

Under her leadership, the company achieved financial and operational objectives while also obtaining creative and constructive regulatory outcomes. Pat also guided the company on its journey toward a cleaner, smarter energy future, while ensuring the 1.5 million customers Alliant serves had access to a more resilient energy grid and a diverse,  sustainable energy mix.

“Pat not only brings a wealth of experience to Xcel Energy, she also shares our vision of leading the clean energy transition, while keeping service reliable and customer bills low,” said Ben Fowke, chairman and CEO of Xcel Energy. “Additionally, Pat joins us in our commitment to workforce development and to diversity and inclusion. It’s a great match and we look forward to welcoming her to our Board of Directors.”

DIVIDENDS: October 2020

XCEL ENERGY BOARD DECLARES DIVIDEND ON COMMON STOCK
The Board of Directors of Xcel Energy has declared a quarterly dividend on its common stock of 43 cents per share. The dividends are payable October 20, 2020, to shareholders of record on September 15, 2020.

UTILITIES TO REFUND $28.3M IN FUEL SAVINGS TO 1.3 MILLION CUSTOMERS

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.

TARIFFS DELAY ONE OF WISCONSIN’S FIRST LARGE- SCALE SOLAR FARMS

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.

WE ENERGIES AND WISCONSIN GAS PROPOSE $370 MILLION PROJECT

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.

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XCEL ENERGY OFFERING FREE VIRTUAL ENERGY VISITS

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 FOUNDATION DONATES TO ‘”REBUILD AND REVITALIZE MILWAUKEE”

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.

XCEL ENERGY PROVIDES NONPROFIT GRANTS

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 COMPANY RENAMED “TRAVERO”

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.

WISCONSIN ENERGY CORPORATION TO ISSUE DIVIDEND

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 ELECTS NEW BOARD MEMBER AS ONE RETIRES

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.

MGE PROPOSES $31.7M SOLAR FARM IN FITCHBURG

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: ANNOUNCES SIX NEW SOLAR PROJECTS IN WISCONSIN

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.”

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