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UTILITY REGULATORS APPROVE GAS PLANT IN SUPERIOR

Wisconsin regulators authorized construction of a $700 million natural gas generator in Superior in spite of concerns over the project’s environmental impact.
The Public Service Commission has voted 2-1 to approve a permit for Dairyland Power Cooperative of La Crosse to build the 625-megawatt Nemadji Trail Energy Center, which is to be jointly owned by Duluth-based Minnesota Power.

The utilities have argued the plant is needed to allow them to move away from coal-fired generation and that it will support the addition of intermittent sources like wind and solar.

WIND TURBINE DESIGN AIMS TO IMPROVE EFFICIENCY

A new turbine design from UW-Green Bay’s engineering department aims to improve the efficiency of wind power generation. The system’s inventor, Md Maruf Hossain, has applied for a patent on the design, and WiSys is seeking commercial partners in the wind power generation industry to help develop the new technology. WiSys handles licensing for UW System universities other than UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee.
According to an information sheet, most wind power generation comes from horizontal axis wind turbines. But WiSys says vertical axis systems have several advantages including lighter weight and improved function during “turbulent, small and inconsistent wind situations.”

XCEL USES ITS CERTIFIED SITES PROGRAM

The Stout Technology and Business Park and the Menomonie Industrial Park both have shovel-ready
sites certified through Xcel Energy’s Certified Sites program.

There are about 130 elements required to become an Xcel Energy certified site, ranging from asking
price to environmental studies and a letter of support, said Brian Elwood, general manager, customer
and community service for Xcel Energy in Wisconsin and Michigan.
“By promoting economic development, Xcel Energy helps bring jobs and capital investment to the
communities and regions we serve,” Elwood said. “The certified sites program provides an opportunity
for the company to efficiently highlight and market communities’ key assets to businesses looking to
relocate or to expand operations. Time is of the essence when trying to attract or retain potential clients.
Having certified sites cuts some of the red tape, providing speed to market for the potential clients and
reducing their risk.”

Xcel Energy started the certified sites program in 2017. Nationally, the company has 37 certified sites,
five ready sites and 27 ready buildings in its eight-state service territory, Elwood said. In Wisconsin, the
company has six certified sites, including the two in Menomonie.

EARNINGS: February 2020

WEC ENERGY GROUP RAISES QUARTERLY DIVIDEND
WEC Energy has declared a quarterly cash dividend of 63.25 cents per share on the company’s common stock, an increase of 7 percent over the current quarterly dividend of 59 cents a share. This raises the annual dividend rate to $2.53 a share.

The higher dividend is payable March 1, 2020, to stockholders of record on February 14, 2020. This marks the 310th consecutive quarter — dating back to 1942 — that the company will have paid a dividend to its stockholders.


XCEL BOARD DECLARES DIVIDEND ON COMMON STOCK
The Board of Directors of Xcel Energy has declared a quarterly dividend on its common stock of 40.5 cents per share. The dividends were payable January 20, 2020, to shareholders of record on December 26, 2019.
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 3.6 million electricity customers and 2.0 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies.

PEOPLE: February 2020

LANE ELECTED TO WEC ENERGY GROUP BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Tom Lane, Vice Chairman of Energy Capital Partners, has been elected to the board of directors of WEC Energy Group (NYSE:WEC), effective January 1. The addition of Lane reflects the board’s commitment to succession planning as several directors approach retirement age.

Lane was a partner at Energy Capital Partners from its inception in 2005 through the end of 2016. Prior to joining the private equity firm, Lane, 62, worked in the Investment Banking Division of Goldman Sachs. As a managing director, he provided senior-level coverage for electric and gas utilities, independent power producers and midstream energy companies throughout the country. Lane is a graduate of Wheaton College. He received an MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago.


MICHAEL D. GARCIA APPOINTED TO ALLIANT ENERGY BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The Alliant Energy Board of Directors has appointed Michael D. Garcia as a new director effective January 1, 2020. Mr. Garcia, 55, is President of Domtar Corporation’s (NYSE: UFS; TSX: UFS) Pulp and Paper division, responsible for the strategy and oversight of its pulp, paper and biomaterials businesses. Domtar is North America’s largest producer of uncoated free sheet (white papers) and one of the largest softwood market pulp producers in the world.
“We’re pleased to welcome Michael to our board of directors,” said John O. Larsen, Alliant Energy Chairman, President and CEO. “As a military veteran with diverse global executive management experience, he will bring fresh insights and a unique perspective that will help us continue to power what’s next for our customers, communities and shareowners.”
Mr. Garcia joined Domtar in 2014 after spending more than four years with Evraz PLC. He was Chief Executive Officer for Evraz Highveld Steel and Vanadium from 2011 to 2014 and Senior Vice President, Manufacturing & Supply Chain, from 2010 to 2011.
Mr. Garcia is a Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Charlotte Branch, and an at-large board member of the United Service Organization (USO) of North Carolina. He is a graduate of The U.S. Military Academy at West Point and holds an MBA from Harvard University.

WE ENERGIES, WISCONSIN GAS TO SEEK BUILD TWO NATURAL GAS STORAGE FACILITIES

We Energies and Wisconsin Gas are seeking approval to build two plants to store liquefied natural gas that could be used to meet spikes in demand on cold winter days. The two plants, projected to cost a total of $370 million, would store natural gas at temperatures of 260 degrees below zero. The plants are needed to meet the projected demand for natural gas during winter months, the two utilities said in their filing with the Public Service Commission.
“This will help smooth out the peak that we are projecting long-term,” said Brendan Conway, a We Energies spokesman.
Liquefied natural gas has about 1/600th of the volume of natural gas burned in a home. Each plant would have the capacity to store 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas. WEC Energy Group already has two liquefied natural gas storage plants.
We Energies and Wisconsin Gas, both part of WEC Energy Group, rely on interstate pipelines and firm contracts to provide natural gas in southeastern Wisconsin. Building the liquefied natural gas plants to meet peak demand would be less costly than contracting with interstate pipelines to add additional capacity, the utilities said in their PSC filing.
We Energies and Wisconsin Gas would have to contract for the additional pipeline capacity year-round to deliver natural gas needed only a few days a year. With the plants, the utilities also would be able to buy and store natural gas when prices are lower than in the winter months.
The two plants are projected to save customers more than $200 million over 30 years, the utilities said. They would be built near Ixonia and in Bluff Creek, just southeast of Whitewater. The utilities would begin construction next year if approved by the Public Service Commission. We Energies also is seeking approval to build a pipeline in southeastern Wisconsin to meet projected growth in Racine and Kenosha counties. The pipeline is projected to cost $175 million to $183 million depending on its route.

RACINE PROPOSES SOLAR FARM

The City of Racine is proposing to lease out 2.64 acres of land at Olsen Prairie Park, 3444 S. Memorial Drive, to We Energies for a 600 kilowatt solar farm. The initiative is through We Energies’ Solar Now pilot program. According to the terms of the proposed agreement, We Energies would own all the solar capacity and in return the city would receive about $2,000 per month for an estimated $26,151 per year.

The agreement also states that We Energies would be responsible for the design, permitting, construction and upkeep of the system. The lifetime of the lease is 30 years.

PSC APPROVES RATE INCREASE FOR WE ENERGIES

State regulators have approved a settlement negotiated with We Energies that will increase We Energies’ electric revenues by 1.3 percent and its gas revenues by 2.8 percent. The Public Service Commission will decide at a later hearing how the increase will be allocated among residential, small business, commercial, industrial and other customers.

The commission also approved similar settlements for Wisconsin Gas and Wisconsin Public Service. Wisconsin Gas’s overall rates will drop by 0.2 percent and WPS’ electric rates will increase 4.7 percent. The increases in electric rates will be the first for We Energies in four years and for WPS in five years. The rate increases approved for We Energies and WPS will be partially offset by lower fuel costs. And WPS’ rate increase will be partially offset by a lower tax rate approved in December 2017.

XCEL SIGNS PACT WITH EAU CLAIRE

Ninety-five years ago Eau Claire agreed to allow a local power company to install hydroelectric generators at Dells Pond Dam. The city has signed a new agreement with Xcel Energy, which obtained ownership of the dam in 2003, to work together toward each of their even more ambitious goals to drastically cut pollution by 2050.

In March 2018, the City Council adopted a resolution providing that Eau Claire, the city government and entire community, should operate on percent renewable energy by 2050. Several months later, Xcel announced its intent to produce entirely carbon-free electricity by 2050

ALLIANT TO BUILD SUBSTANTIAL SOLAR GENERATION FACILITY

Alliant Energy has announced plans to build up to 1,000 megawatts of solar power by the end of 2023 as part of a transition to clean energy sources. That’s nearly 10 times the state’s current solar-generation capacity and would more than double the amount expected to come online within the next couple of years in large-scale solar farms now undergoing the permitting process or under construction. If built, it would generate enough electricity to meet the annual needs of about 250,000 typical Wisconsin households.

PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION DENIES EV CHARGING SUBSIDIES BUT ALLOWS FOR POLLUTION CONTROL RECOVERY

The Public Service Commission approved the first rate increases in four years for We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service of Green Bay, both subsidiaries of WEC Energy Group. Along with adjustments for fuel costs and provisions of a settlement agreement approved earlier this month, about 1.1 million We Energies customers can expect rates to increase by about 0.66 percent in 2020. Rates are expected to increase by about 1.6 percent for about 442,000 WPS customers. The PSC separately approved modest rate decreases for Madison Gas and Electric and Alliant Energy to account for lower-than-expected natural gas prices. Average residential customers of MGE can expect to save about 54 cents on their monthly electric bills in 2020, while the typical residential customer of Alliant will save about $1.58 per month. As part of the WEC rate cases, the commission ruled that neither utility can use ratepayer money to subsidize home charging stations for electric vehicles. The utilities had sought to spend up to $10 million to offer $1,000 rebates for customers who install the equipment as part of a two-year pilot program in which participants would pay time of use rates for charging their vehicles.

Brendan Conway, a spokesman for WE Energies had this to say about the PSC decision, “Working with the commission and customer and business groups, our rate proposal protects customers and allows us to continue on a path to a cleaner energy future that is safe, reliable and affordable. We appreciate the feedback from the commission on our EV proposal and will continue to work with them and other stakeholders on this emerging technology.”

GREEN JOINS WEC ENERGY GROUP BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Maria C. Green has joined the board of directors of WEC Energy Group following her election in July.
“We’re delighted that Maria has agreed to serve as a director,” said Gale Klappa, executive chairman. “Her remarkable background in corporate and civic leadership is a perfect fit for an already strong and engaged board of directors.”
Green, 65, retired in June as senior vice president and general counsel for Ingersoll Rand after a 35-year career in law and business. She was responsible for management and oversight of the company’s legal group and a trusted legal and strategic adviser to the company’s chairman and CEO. Prior to joining Ingersoll Rand in 2015, Green served as senior vice president, general counsel and secretary for Illinois Tool Works in Glenview, Illinois.
Green has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from Boston University. A member of the Chicago Urban League executive committee, Green served as chairman from 2015 to 2017

MGE ENERGY REPORTS THIRD-QUARTER EARNINGS

MGE Energy has reported financial results for the third quarter of 2019. MGE Energy’s earnings for the third quarter of 2019 were $30.7 million, or 88 cents per share, compared to $29.5 million, or 85 cents per share, for the same period in the prior year. During the third quarter of 2019, an increase in owned renewable generation assets contributed to electric earnings growth compared to the prior year. The completion of the Saratoga Wind Farm added generation assets in 2019. The Two Creeks and Badger Hollow Solar projects are under construction and expected to be completed by the end of 2020. Electric retail sales remained relatively flat quarter over quarter. The average daily temperature for both the three months ended September 30, 2019 and 2018 was measured at normal levels.

XCEL ENERGY REPORTS THIRD QUARTER 2019 EARNINGS

Xcel Energy has reported 2019 third quarter GAAP and ongoing earnings of $527 million, or $1.01 per share, compared with $491 million, or $0.96 per share in the same period in 2018. Earnings reflect higher electric margins primarily due to non-fuel riders, regulatory rate outcomes and lower O&M expenses, partially offset by lower AFUDC, increased depreciation, and interest expenses.
“Xcel Energy achieved solid quarterly results and as a result we have narrowed our expected earnings to the upper half of our 2019 guidance range. In addition we have issued 2020 earnings guidance of $2.73 to $2.83 per share, which is consistent with our 5-7% growth objective,” said Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy.
“We have planned capital investments of $22 billion in the next five years to continue our clean energy transition, expand our renewable portfolio and enhance and protect service reliability. These investments will deliver economic and environmental benefits for our shareholders, customers and stakeholders while supporting our drive to achieve an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.”

WEC ENERGY GROUP POSTS THIRD-QUARTER RESULTS

WEC Energy Group has reported net income of $234.3 million, or 74 cents per share for the third quarter of 2019. This compares to earnings of $233.2 million, or 74 cents per share for last year’s third quarter. For the first nine months of 2019, the company recorded net income of $890.1 million, or $2.81 per share — up from $854.3 million, or $2.70 per share, in the corresponding period a year ago. Consolidated revenues for the third quarter and nine months ended September 30, 2019, were $1.6 billion and $5.6 billion, respectively, both level with the comparable periods in 2018. “We delivered a solid third quarter despite summer temperatures that were cooler than last year and destructive July storms — including nine tornadoes — that caused extensive damage to our distribution network,” said Gale Klappa, Executive Chairman.

ALLIANT ENERGY ANNOUNCES THIRD QUARTER RESULTS

Alliant Energy Corporation has announced U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and non-GAAP consolidated unaudited earnings per share (EPS) for the three months ended September 30 as follows:
“As we advance our commitment to cleaner energy and affordable customer options, we are investing in renewable energy and distribution system enhancements,” said John Larsen, Alliant Energy Chairman, President and CEO. “We raised our 2019 earnings guidance to a range of $2.27 to $2.33 per share, largely due to the benefits of weather during the first nine months of this year. I am also pleased to share that our Board of Directors has approved a 7 percent increase to our annual common stock dividend target, raising it to $1.52 per share for 2020.”

WUI Testimony PSC: WEC and WI Gas

BEFORE THE  PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF WISCONSIN

 Joint Application of Wisconsin Electric Power Company and Wisconsin Gas LLC for Authority

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WUI Members Enjoy a State Historic Site at This Year’s Annual Meeting

The Wade House and Carriage Museum in Greenbush, Wisconsin, was the setting for a record number of utility investors at the 2019 Wisconsin Utility Investors Annual Meeting of Members. During a brief business meeting, two-term board member Trudy Popenhagen stepped down and former Xcel Energy Regulatory Executive, Donald Reck, was elected to serve on the WUI Board of Directors. Following the annual business meeting, members learned about overall trends in the utility industry as well as the large scale solar and wind technology projects which are currently underway.
The WUI Board of Directors wishes to thank our excellent guest speakers, Attorney Andrew Hanson, Senior Counsel of Perkins Coie LLP who spoke about large scale utility solar, Commissioner Ellen Nowak of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission who spoke about energy policy and issues, and government relations representatives Elise Nelson from Alliant Energy, Matthew Pagel from Xcel Energy, and Chris LaRowe and Joel Haubrich of WEC Energy Group, who updated the membership about their respective company progress and initiatives. Members were also able to meet with shareholder representatives from MGE Energy, Alliant Energy, Xcel Energy and WEC Energy Group.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Curator Jim Willaert, introduced the membership to the Carriage Museum and sent them on their way to enjoy the historic site; including a working sawmill, blacksmith shop and Wade House Carriage stop via horse drawn carriage rides. We apologize to the members who were not able to enjoy a carriage ride due to the overwhelming response to the opportunity.
Please visit our new website at www.wuiinc.org for all the current news on the Energy industry and Wisconsin Utility projects. The WUI Board of Directors appreciates your feedback and support. To that end, WUI will continue to hold meetings at historical and otherwise engaging Wisconsin locations.
A new opportunity to join WUI with a “Lifetime Membership” was introduced at this year’s annual meeting. With a Lifetime Membership, yearly dues of $15 will be a thing of the past, though Annual Memberships are still available.
Membership information is available from the WUI Website, and dues may now be paid by credit card.

WEC Energy Group to Acquire Majority of Thunderhead Wind Energy Center

WEC Energy Group has announced that the company has agreed to acquire an eighty percent ownership interest in Thunderhead Wind Energy Center. The project is being developed in Antelope and Wheeler counties, Nebraska, by Invenergy — a leading developer and operator of sustainable energy solutions. Commercial operation is expected to begin by the end of 2020.
The wind farm has a long-term offtake agreement with a Fortune 100 company for 100 percent of the energy produced.
The Thunderhead site will consist of 108 GE wind turbines with a combined capacity of 300 megawatts. WEC Energy Group’s investment will total $338 million for the 80 percent ownership interest.
“This investment fits exceptionally well with our strategy of deploying capital in renewable energy assets that will serve strong, vibrant companies for years to come,” said Gale Klappa, executive chairman of WEC Energy Group.
Under the tax rules, the WEC Energy Group investment is expected to be eligible for 100 percent bonus depreciation and production tax credits. The transaction is subject to receiving all necessary regulatory approvals.

WEC Energy Group Posts Second-Quarter And First-Half Results

 

 

Residential electricity use dropped by 8.9 percent, and electricity consumption by small commercial and industrial customers was 5.2 percent lower. Electricity use by large commercial and industrial customers — excluding the iron ore mine — was down by 4.1 percent during the second quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year.
WEC Energy has reported net income of $235.7 million, or 74 cents per share for the second quarter of 2019 — up from $231 million, or 73 cents per share for the second quarter last year.
For the first six months of 2019, the company recorded net income of $655.8 million, or $2.07 per share — up from $621.1 million, or $1.96 per share in the corresponding period a year ago. Consolidated revenues totaled $4.0 billion for the first six months of 2019, flat compared to revenues for the first half of 2018.
“Our focus on financial discipline and operating efficiency were major factors driving our positive results — despite very mild weather in this year’s second quarter,” said Gale Klappa, Executive Chairman. Retail deliveries of electricity — excluding the iron ore mine in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula — were down by 5.9 percent in the second quarter of 2019, compared to the second quarter of 2018.
On a weather-normal basis, retail deliveries of electricity during the second quarter of this year — excluding the iron ore mine — decreased by 1.6 percent. Second quarter natural gas deliveries in Wisconsin, excluding gas used for power generation, fell by 2.9 percent. On a weather-normal basis, natural gas deliveries rose by 0.7 percent. At the end of June, the company was serving approximately 11,000 more electric customers and 23,000 more natural gas customers than at the same time a year ago.
The company is raising its earnings guidance for 2019 to a range of $3.50 to $3.53 per share with an expectation of reaching the top end of the range. This assumes normal weather for the remainder of the year.