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WISCONSIN UTILITIES EXPECT TO SPEND MORE THAN $2B ON NEW TRANSMISSION

Utilities and renewable advocates say the projects will aid the clean energy transition, but some consumer groups have expressed concerns about the costs. Three new transmission lines that are estimated to cost around $2.2 billion will cross through Wisconsin under a large expansion approved by the Midwest grid operator that’s designed to facilitate the clean energy transition.

The Board of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator signed off on a $10.3 billion portfolio of 18 transmission projects for the Upper Midwest on July 25. The lines are expected to support 53 gigawatts of renewable energy and provide between $23 to $52 billion in benefits as utilities retire aging coal plants. Projects in Wisconsin are slated to start coming online as early as 2028.

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XCEL ENERGY PROPOSES EXPANDING ELECTRIC VEHICLE PROGRAMS AND HIGH-SPEED PUBLIC CHARGING

To help drive toward the future of clean transportation, Xcel Energy is proposing new and enhanced electric vehicle charging programs and high-speed public charging options in Wisconsin and Minnesota to make charging at home and on the go easy, fast and more affordable for all customers. The plan also includes new EV programs and solutions supporting businesses, multifamily buildings, community charging, transit and electric school buses.
“Interest in EVs continues to grow and the expansion of both private and public charging will help customers address range anxiety and achieve significant savings on their transportation costs while delivering cleaner air for everyone,” according to Mark Stoering, President, Xcel Energy-Wisconsin and Michigan.
This current proposal dramatically increases the number of public EV charging stations in the region, making it easier for drivers to charge on the go, by potentially adding 750 high-speed charging stations across Wisconsin and Minnesota. The company will work with interested communities and site hosts on locations for charging stations in both urban and rural areas, particularly along interstates, state highways and other traffic corridors.
The proposal also enhances the successful EV Accelerate at Home program, which provides a turn-key option working with local electricians to install a home charger, in both states to better meet customers’ needs and expands programs and charger options to help businesses provide EV charging for employees, renters, fleet vehicles and the public.
”Transportation is the largest source of carbon emissions in the U.S., and our plan supports Minnesota’s target of having 20% of light duty vehicles in our state be electric by 2030 – not only because it reduces emissions and delivers cleaner air, but because charging an EV at home is the equivalent of about a $1 per gallon when charging overnight,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. “This means real savings for drivers and, importantly, our plan positions both Xcel Energy and the Upper Midwest as a national leader in accessible, affordable charging options through innovative customer programs and infrastructure.”

ALLIANT ENERGY COMPLETES KOHLER, SHEBOYGAN SOLAR PROJECTS

Two Alliant Energy Customer-Hosted Renewables projects, the City of Sheboygan Solar Field and Kohler Solar Field, both recently became operational. The two projects highlight the flexibility of the Alliant Energy Customer-Hosted Renewables program, working with both public and private customers to make meaningful advancements in clean energy. In total, the projects could generate enough power for roughly 760 homes annually at maximum output.
“We are pleased to advance our transition to clean energy with the completion of the city of Sheboygan and Kohler solar projects,” according to David de Leon, President of Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin energy company. “Sheboygan-area residents will have access to the energy generated from these solar fields – just another example of how we keep customers at the heart of everything we do.”
The City of Sheboygan Solar Field utilizes land at the Sheboygan Business Center for a 1-MW solar project. The city will showcase the benefits of clean energy while receiving lease payments for twenty-five years.

INFLATION REDUCTION ACT – ENERGY ISSUES

Most economists agree that the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act will not actually impact inflation but it does contain provisions that will have a major impact on the energy industry including electric utilities. More than half of the spending in the bill - $385 billion – goes to climate and energy spending and tax breaks over the next five to ten years.

The bill includes extending the solar investment tax credit of 30% through 2033, extending the wind production tax credit through 2033, creation of a $30 billion loan/grant program to decarbonize the grid, creation of a interstate transmission line grant program and a new credit for qualified nuclear facilities. The bill also contains provisions designed to stimulate hydrogen production and a $7,500 tax credit to buy new electric vehicles along with a $4,000 credit for lower/middle income taxpayers to buy used electric vehicles.

Many of these provisions will benefit electric utilities. Look for a more detailed analysis in the next edition of the Voice.

XCEL ENERGY TAKES STEP TO ADD SIGNIFICANT CARBON-FREE ENERGY TO ITS UPPER MIDWEST SYSTEM

To help move the clean energy transition forward, Xcel Energy has announced it is seeking proposals to add significant carbon-free energy for its customers in the Upper Midwest through new renewable energy projects and energy storage projects. The company is seeking proposals from developers for at least 900 megawatts of electric generation to meet customers’ energy needs and help the company reduce carbon emissions by eighty-five percent in the region by 2030, compared to 2005, as it moves toward its vision of providing one hundred percent carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050.

As the company works to implement its recently approved Upper Midwest Energy Plan, this request calls for new solar projects, or solar projects with energy storage. The company aims to have about 300 megawatts of the new energy resources connect to the grid at the Sherco plant site in Sherburne County, Minnesota, to bring clean energy to the region as the coal plant is retired in phases beginning in 2023.

Under the company’s Upper Midwest Energy plan, more than eighty percent of customers’ electricity in the region would be carbon free by the end of the decade, with more than half coming from wind and solar. These projects will help move those plans forward. The plan calls for retiring all the company’s Upper Midwest coal plants by 2030, dramatically increasing wind and solar energy, and ensuring reliable, affordable energy by extending the generation of carbon-free nuclear energy at the Monticello plant for an additional 10 years, to 2040.

SECOND QUARTER 2022 EARNINGS | XCEL

Xcel Energy reaffirms 2022 EPS earnings guidance range of $3.10 to $3.20.

Xcel Energy has reported 2022 second quarter GAAP and ongoing earnings of $328 million, or $0.60 per share, compared with $311 million, or $0.58 per share in the same period in 2021. Earnings reflect capital investment recovery and other regulatory outcomes, partially offset by higher depreciation, interest expense and operating and maintenance (O&M) expenses.

“We had a solid quarter and as a result we are reaffirming our 2022 earnings guidance of $3.10 to $3.20 per share,” said Bob Frenzel, Chairman, President and CEO of Xcel Energy. “We achieved a significant regulatory milestone with approval of our Colorado Electric Resource Plan. Executing this plan and our Power Pathway transmission project will secure affordable, resilient, clean energy for our customers, reducing carbon emissions eighty-five percent in the state by 2030, generating eighty percent of electricity from renewable sources by the same year and retiring all coal generation in the state by January 1, 2031.”

Xcel Energy was also recently honored with several leadership awards, being inducted into the Climate Leadership Hall of Fame and receiving the Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Award for ground breaking sustainability goals.

SECOND QUARTER 2022 EARNINGS | MGE, WEC, Alliant,

MGE Energy has reported second-quarter earnings of $21.8 million.
The company had net income of sixty cents per share. It posted revenue of $152.3 million in the period.


 

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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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