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Our First Regional Meeting of 2022 is scheduled and ready for registrations!

 

Our First Regional Meeting of 2022 is scheduled and ready for registrations!   

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WEC ENERGY GROUP ANNOUNCES HYDROGEN POWER PILOT PROGRAM

WEC Energy Group has announced that it is leading a pilot project to test hydrogen as a fuel source for power generation. The company will test co-firing hydrogen with natural gas at one of its power generation plants in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. This is one of the first hydrogen power pilot programs of its kind in the United States.

WEC Energy Group has set some of the most aggressive environmental goals in the energy industry, including net-zero carbon emissions from electric generation by 2050 and net-zero methane emissions from natural gas distribution by the end of 2030. This pilot continues that industry leadership and could help create another viable option for decarbonizing the economy. 

"We're pleased to take a leading role in testing hydrogen in our modern natural gas fueled generation units," according to Gale Klappa, Executive Chairman. "As we bring more renewable energy online, we must ensure that we can keep the lights on when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing. The potential of adding hydrogen as a clean generating fuel to our fleet of dispatchable plants is an important step as we bridge to a bright, sustainable future." 

During the pilot project, hydrogen and natural gas will be mixed up to a 25/75 percent blend to power one of the generating units that serves customers of Upper Michigan Energy Resources, a WEC Energy Group subsidiary. The units use a technology known as RICE — reciprocating internal combustion engines. The engines were manufactured by technology company Wärtsilä and began service in 2019.  

WEC Energy Group is partnering with the Electric Power Research Institute the world's preeminent independent, non-profit energy research and development organization, driving innovation to ensure the public has clean, safe, reliable, affordable, and equitable access to electricity across the globe.

ATC BACKS LEGISLATION ON RIGHTS TO TRANSMISSION EXPANSION

The American Transmission Company is urging Wisconsin lawmakers to pass legislation (Senate Bill 838 and Assembly Bill 892) that would provide a right of first refusal for incumbent transmission line owners when building new lines and maintain important Wisconsin based regulatory oversight over the approval process.

Without this legislation, new transmission line projects could be subject to a new, complex, and often contentious federal approval process that could lead to significant delays and loss of Wisconsin based regulatory authority. This legislation will ensure that we continue to have a Wisconsin focused approach to transmission line planning and approval.

The Wisconsin bill enjoys bipartisan support in the legislature including both Republicans and Democrats who sit on legislative committees that oversee utilities. It has attracted an unusual collection of opponents including environmental groups and Americans for Prosperity.

Most midwestern states have adopted similar legislation including Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan. WUI is supporting Senate Bill 838 and Assembly Bill 892 because any expansion of Wisconsin’s transmission infrastructure needs to continue to be based on Wisconsin’s needs and circumstances and be subject to PSC approval and oversight.

ALLIANT ENERGY NAMED ONE OF AMERICA’S BEST MIDSIZE EMPLOYERS

For the fourth year in a row, Alliant Energy was named to Forbes list of America’s Best Midsize Employers. Presented by Forbes and Statista Inc., the list spans 25 industry sectors and recognizes 500 large and 500 midsize employers in the United States.

“This recognizes the great people at Alliant Energy and the way they bring our purpose to life,” said Diane Cooke, Vice President of Human Resources at Alliant Energy. “Guided by a shared purpose of supporting customers and building stronger communities, we work together to create a safe workplace where everyone feels like they belong and can use their unique backgrounds, talents and perspectives to their fullest potential.”

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NEW WPS RENEWABLE ENERGY FACILITY ADDED

WPS has announced it has added another renewable energy facility near Lake Julia in Rhinelander. The facility, which is officially named Hodag Solar Park, is the first large-scale solar park in the Northwoods region to date. Featuring 21,000 solar panels that can capture solar energy on both sides. The Hodag Solar Park is reportedly capable of generating 7.5 megawatts, which is equal to powering more than 2,000 homes.

“This project is another example of our commitment to delivering affordable, reliable, and clean energy to our customers,” according to Scott Lauber, WPS President. “We’re proud to add another source of renewable energy to power homes and businesses in north-central Wisconsin.”

MGE INCREASES ENERGY 2030 CARBON REDUCTION GOAL TO EIGHTY PERCENT

Consistent with its commitment to sustainable energy and to global climate science, Madison Gas and Electric is committing to reducing carbon at least eighty percent by 2030 as it works toward achieving net-zero carbon electricity by 2050. Under its Energy 2030 framework, announced in 2015, the company set a goal of forty percent carbon reduction by 2030, one of the first such goals set by a utility and in alignment with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Since then, the company has said it fully expects to achieve carbon reductions of at least sixty-five percent by 2030. In 2019, MGE established its goal of net-zero carbon electricity by mid-century, consistent with climate science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and analysis of the company’s goal by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

PEOPLE: XCEL ENERGY ANNOUNCES NEW CHIEF HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER

Bob Frenzel, Xcel Energy’s Chairman, President and CEO, has announced that Patricia Correa joined the company on February 1, 2022 as the new chief human resources officer (CHRO). Correa replaces Darla Figoli, the company’s former Executive Vice President and CHRO whose last day was March 1.

EARNINGS | DIVIDENDS

WEC ENERGY GROUP RAISES QUARTERLY DIVIDEND BY 7.4 PERCENT
The Board of Directors of WEC Energy Group declared a quarterly cash dividend of 72.75 cents per share on the company's common stock, an increase of 7.4 percent over the current quarterly dividend of 67.75 cents per share. This raises the annual dividend rate to $2.91 per share. The higher dividend was paid on March 1, 2022, to stockholders of record on February 14, 2022. This marks the 318th consecutive quarter, dating back to 1942, that the company will have paid a dividend to its stockholders.

WEC ENERGY GROUP POSTS 2021 RESULTS
WEC Energy Group has reported net income of $1.3 billion, or $4.11 per share, for 2021. This compares to earnings of $1.2 billion, or $3.79 per share, for 2020 — a year-over-year increase of 8.4 percent. For the fourth quarter of 2021, WEC Energy Group recorded net income of $224.2 million, or 71 cents per share. This compares to earnings of $239 million, or 76 cents per share, for the fourth quarter of 2020. Consolidated revenues totaled $8.3 billion for 2021, up $1.1 billion compared to 2020 revenues.

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MGE RECEIVES APPROVAL TO PURCHASE PART OF NEW WIND FARM

Madison Gas and Electric has received approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) to purchase part of the Red Barn Wind Farm.

The 9.1 MW purchase of the 92-MW wind farm is in partnership with Wisconsin Public Service (WPS). In total, it will be an approximately 12,000-acre project that will feature 28 turbines.

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JUDGE BLOCKS MISSISSIPPI RIVER CROSSING FOR $492M POWER LINE

A federal judge has blocked a power line under construction in Iowa and Wisconsin from crossing the Mississippi River after finding the government’s environmental review was inadequate. Judge William Conley’s ruling throws the fate of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line into question just months after utilities began construction on the $492 million project.

Conley sided with four conservation groups that sued two federal agencies over approvals of the contentious 102-mile line between Dubuque, Iowa, and Middleton. In an order, Conley said the Rural Utilities Service’s environmental review did not give adequate consideration to alternatives and therefore failed to comply with federal law.

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WEC ENERGY GROUP'S JAYHAWK WIND FARM GOES INTO SERVICE

WEC Energy Group has announced that the 190-megawatt Jayhawk Wind Farm in Bourbon and Crawford counties, Kansas, has achieved commercial operation.

Jayhawk is generating renewable energy that is being sold under long-term contract to Meta, formerly Facebook.

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PSC HELD PERFORMANCE-BASED REGULATION WORKSHOP

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC or Commission) held an in-person workshop on Performance-Based Regulation on Tuesday, January 11, 2022, as part of its work in its Roadmap to Zero Carbon docket.

The workshop was designed to facilitate education and dialogue among all interested parties on considerations and options associated with the pursuit for performance-based regulation and will inform Commission decision-making as Wisconsin transitions to zero-carbon electricity consumption by 2050. The workshop focused on the following question:

  • What are appropriate methods and strategies for using performance-based regulation to support better performance outcomes for Wisconsin utilities?

ALLIANT ENERGY NAMES MAYURI FARLINGER VICE PRESIDENT – CUSTOMER AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Mayuri Farlinger has been named vice president of customer and community engagement effective January 1, 2022. Farlinger’s promotion was announced by Terry Kouba, President of Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy company and Senior Vice President of Operations. With this announcement, over one third of Alliant Energy’s senior executive officers are now female. 

“Mayuri’s proven and ongoing leadership and initiative at Alliant Energy energizes others and delivers positive results,” according to Kouba. “Her passion for providing innovative solutions is critical to delivering on our purpose to serve customers and build stronger communities.” 

In this role, Farlinger is responsible for growing Alliant Energy’s customer base in Iowa by leading the company’s economic development, community engagement and account management areas. She will direct and provide leadership for regulatory activities and initiatives supporting all electric and natural gas customers in Iowa. Farlinger also is responsible for directing and implementing the day-to-day delivery of gas and electric service, power plant operations in Eastern Iowa, as well as working with the company’s Safety Blue Hat program across the state.

XCEL ENERGY’S DAKOTA RANGE I AND II WIND FARM NOW OPERATIONAL

Xcel Energy has announced that its Dakota Range I and II Wind Farm is fully operational and is now delivering clean, renewable energy to Xcel Energy’s Upper Midwest customers.

Since 2017, the company has added about 2,000 megawatts of new or rebuilt wind energy to the Xcel Energy Upper Midwest wind portfolio, enough to power more than 945,000 average homes. Overall, the company estimates that more than sixty percent of the energy provided to Upper Midwest customers is currently carbon free, with more than twenty percent of that coming from wind energy. At the end of 2020, Xcel Energy became one of the first energy providers in the United States to reach 10,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity online for customers in the states it serves.

CONSTRUCTION COMPLETE FOR PORT WASHINGTON-SAUKVILLE REBUILD

The American Transmission Company (ATC) has completed construction of the Port Washington-Saukville Rebuild Project. This project included a 4.8-mile, 138,000-volt transmission line rebuild, along with modifications at the Port Washington Substation in Port Washington, Wisconsin, and Saukville Substation in Saukville, Wisconsin.

Initially identified in ATC’s 10-Year Assessment in 2009, this $25 million infrastructure investment strengthens electric transmission reliability in the southeast Wisconsin area and improves operating flexibility under certain system conditions. The project was officially placed into service December 18, 2021.

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ALLIANT ENERGY TO COMPLETE PRAIRIE DU SAC DAM IMPROVEMENT

Alliant Energy will soon complete its Prairie du Sac Dam improvement project. The Prairie du Sac Dam parking lot area and access road was closed December 16-17 and December 20-23, 2021, to ensure a safe area for Alliant Energy crews to complete the project and remove barges from the Wisconsin River above the dam. 

“We’re excited to wrap up this improvement project, and our number one priority is to complete our work safely,” according to Eric Curtis, Alliant Energy Project Manager. “Using the parking lot as a barge drop off and demobilization staging area will allow crews to finish their work while ensuring the safety of the public, especially those who visit the area for recreational activities.”

The dam improvement project utilized a crane secured to a barge to replace the existing spillway operator deck. The spillway operator deck allows for safe operation of the spillway gates, which benefits the public who enjoy recreation near the dam. 

The parking lot area and access road were closed to public vehicle and pedestrian traffic from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. December 16-17 and December 20-23. The closure allowed about two dozen large construction vehicles to safely remove sections of the barges from the site. Outside of these dates and times, access to the site and waters around the dam remained open.

“For more than 100 years, the Prairie du Sac Dam has delivered clean, safe and reliable energy,” said Curtis. “We appreciate the public’s understanding and patience while we complete this project

MORE WISCONSIN UTILITY-SCALE SOLAR PROJECTS WENT ONLINE IN 2021 THAN IN ANY OTHER YEAR

Wisconsin utilities installed and placed into service more solar power in 2021 than any other year as utility-scale solar projects are increasing. The growth of renewable electricity is expected to accelerate as part of efforts to meet carbon reduction goals to stave off the worst effects of climate change. 

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RENEWABLE DEREGULATION

by James Buchen, WUI Executive Director

Legislation has been introduced (SB 490, AB 527, SB 702) that will exempt entities that own or operate renewable generating facilities from traditional utility regulation. The effect of these bills will be to shift significant costs to nonparticipating electric customers and give access to Wisconsin’s energy grid to developers of such projects at no cost to them.

Under current law, persons that provide energy to the public, directly or indirectly, are considered utilities subject to regulation by the PSC. This regulatory scheme is designed to protect consumer interests while providing reliable energy at a reasonable cost. The system also serves to minimize the potential for one group of residential rate payers to be forced to subsidize the price of energy for another group of residential rate payers. In addition, the system ensures that utilities have the necessary capital to finance the construction and maintenance of a large scale, reliable, low cost energy system by providing investors with a fair rate of return on their investments.

Wisconsin utilities are committed to prudently expanding renewable energy generation including substantial investment in solar and wind energy. 



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ALLIANT ENERGY ANNOUNCES COMMUNITY MICROGRID

Alliant Energy has announced plans for a community microgrid in Richland County, which will help improve reliability for some customers. The community-based microgrid is set to be built in the Village of Boaz as part of the company’s efforts to advance its Clean Energy Blueprint,  said the director of Engineering and Customer Solutions.

Alliant Energy noted the project is the first of its kind for them, involving the construction of a small-scale power grid. It will be able to be disconnected from a traditional grid to operate independently in the event of an outage or service disruption. When it is disconnected, Alliant Energy stated that it will serve customers with power from other sources such as a battery, wind, solar or a combination. The site will be built along County Road E in the Dayton Township and will provide for about 120 customers. It is expected to be completed by the spring of 2022.

REGULATORS APPROVE $370M NATURAL GAS STORAGE PROJECT

Wisconsin utility regulators have approved plans for a $370 million natural gas storage project in southeastern Wisconsin designed to provide fuel when demand spikes. We Energies and Wisconsin Gas say the dual facilities in Jefferson and Walworth counties are needed to improve reliability and resilience in the future.