BLOG

2020 Annual Membership Meeting

Thank you to everyone who virtually attended this year’s WUI Annual Meeting of Members. Your board of directors appreciate 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 a unknown and always learning 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 Lawniczak and Greggory Bollom to the Board of Directors. Following Kenyon Kies’ treasurer’s report, Executive Director James Buchen presented the 2019- 2020 legislative update.

Read More

ALLIANT ENERGY ANNOUNCES ACCELERATED SUSTAINABILITY GOALS

Alliant Energy has released its 2020 Corporate Responsibility Report (CRR) highlighting their purpose-driven strategy. The company’s purpose, to serve customers and build stronger communities, is supported by accelerating their sustainability goals and investing in the communities they serve. Alliant Energy’s new report highlights all aspects of the company’s Environmental, Social and Governance programs. It also includes a new aspiration for Alliant Energy to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2050 from electricity the company generates and a new goal of eliminating all coal from its generation fleet by 2040. These goals are part of the company’s Clean Energy Vision which is highlighted in the report.

XCEL CONTINUES INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP WITH NEW CLIMATE REPORTING

Xcel Energy has released a new report providing an even more comprehensive view of its clean energy strategy and preparedness for managing the risks associated with climate change and the opportunities associated with clean energy. The report, which responds to the recommendations of the international Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, shows that the company’s clean energy strategy is well-suited to adapt to the risks of climate change and creates shareholder and customer value.

The Task Force’s framework asks organizations to report on four categories related to climate change including: governance, strategy, risk management, metrics and targets. It also recommends that companies develop a climate scenario analysis testing the resilience of their strategies. The company has signed on as an official supporter of the Task Force, one of only five U.S. based electric companies to do so.
Xcel Energy’s evaluation details climate-related disclosures important to investors and other stakeholders. The report shows the value of the company’s strategy of deploying renewable and other clean energy resources, building a more resilient energy grid and meeting the evolving needs of customers, all while keeping service reliable and bills low. It further reinforces Xcel Energy’s commitment to its vision to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050 even as the COVID-19 pandemic forces businesses in the United States and around the world to reevaluate their strategies.

WEC ENERGY ACQUIRES OWNERSHIP IN TATANKA RIDGE WIND FARM

WEC Energy Group has announced that the company has agreed to acquire an eighty-five percent ownership interest in Tatanka Ridge Wind Farm under construction in Deuel County, South Dakota. The project is being developed by Avangrid Renewables, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Avangrid, Inc. Commercial operation is expected to begin by early 2021. The project has long-term offtake agreements for one-hundred percent of the energy produced with a multinational investment grade company and a well-established electric cooperative that serves utilities in multiple states. The Tatanka Ridge site will consist of fifty-six wind turbines with a combined capacity of 155 megawatts. WEC Energy Group’s investment is expected to total $235 million for the eighty-five percent ownership interest and substantially all of the tax benefits.

WEC ENERGY GROUP TO REACH “NET-ZERO” CARBON EMISSIONS BY 2050

WEC Energy Group, which owns We Energies, Wisconsin Public Service, released its Corporate Responsibility Report outlining plans to retire coal fueled units, build advanced technology natural gas units and invest in cost-effective, zero-carbon renewable generation in order to be carbon neutral by 2050. WEC announced in 2019 that it exceeded 40 percent by 2030, giving reason for its updated goal of 70 percent by 2030.

XCEL ENERGY ANNOUNCES SECOND QUARTER 2020 EARNINGS

Xcel Energy has reported 2020 second quarter GAAP and ongoing earnings of $287 million, or $0.54 per share, compared with $238 million, or $0.46 per share in the same period in 2019.

“Despite lower sales due to COVID-19, Xcel Energy achieved strong second quarter results primarily due to the positive impact of weather and cost management efforts. We are on track with our financial plan and are reaffirming our 2020 earnings guidance of $2.73 to $2.83 per share. However, we’ll continue to monitor and manage through the economic uncertainty of this pandemic,” said Ben Fowke, chairman and CEO of Xcel Energy.

Read More

XCEL ENERGY’S NEW ELECTRIC VEHICLE VISION TO SAVE BILLIONS

Xcel Energy has announced its vision to drive toward powering 1.5 million electric vehicles in its service areas by 2030. As a result of this vision, EVs would make up twenty percent of all vehicles on the road in those areas, more than 30 times the number today, helping save customers billions of dollars in fuel costs, while significantly cutting carbon emissions from transportation.

By making it easy for more people to use EVs through new charging infrastructure and customer programs, the company’s vision will build the future of clean, affordable transportation in the eight states it serves. As drivers, ride-share companies, public transit and other fleet operators replace vehicles with EVs, they will see substantial savings on fuel, because driving electric is equal to spending about $1 per gallon of gas and can be significantly less when charging overnight. By 2030, an EV would cost $700 less per year to fuel than a gas-powered car, saving customers $1 billion annually. To make the company’s vision a reality, it will need the support of policymakers, manufacturers and other stakeholders.

WEC ENERGY SECOND QUARTER EARNINGS

WEC Energy Group has reported second-quarter earnings of $241.6 million. On a pershare basis, the Milwaukee-based company said it had net income of 76 cents. The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of three analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 69 cents per share. The electricity and natural gas provider posted revenue of $1.55 billion in the period. WEC Energy expects full-year earnings to be $3.71 to $3.75 per share. WEC Energy shares have increased three percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has increased slightly more than two percent. The stock has climbed slightly more than nine percent in the last 12 months.

MOREY FIELD SOLAR DELIVERING LOCALLY GENERATED CLEAN ENERGY

Madison Gas and Electric’s 5-megawatt Morey Field Solar array at Middleton Municipal Airport is fully operational and delivering locally generated, sustainable, carbon-free energy to the electric grid. Morey Field Solar is the second array in MGE’s popular Shared Solar program. The community solar program provides residential and business customers throughout MGE’s electric service territory an easy, convenient way to power their home or business with local solar.

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.

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.

Read More

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.