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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.

Lyft, MGE Offer Bonus to Grow Electric Vehicle Ridesharing in Madison

Lyft and Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) are partnering to increase the use of electric vehicle (EV) ridesharing in Madison and grow awareness of the benefits of EVs. The two companies will offer a $500 bonus to Madison-area EV drivers who sign up to drive with Lyft. “This program is a unique opportunity for Madison-area residents to ride in an EV and experience what they have to offer,” said Debbie Branson, MGE Manager of Electrification. “EVs offer convenience— for example, with EVs, there are no oil changes or trips to the gas station. They cost less to fuel and maintain than gas-powered vehicles, and they are fun to drive.” Visit mge.com/Lyft to learn more.

Alliant Energy Named a Top Utility in Economic Development

Alliant Energy has been chosen for the annual list of the Top Utilities in Economic Development. Site Selection magazine provided the recognition based on the company’s contribution to the local economies and communities
in its service area.

“We’re proud to be recognized for our efforts to bring investment, growth and job creation to the communities we serve,” said Terry Kouba, President of Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy  company. “We appreciate our local, regional and state economic development partners. Together, we can provide growth that brings value to our customers, communities and new and expanding businesses.”

Alliant Energy Implodes Sutherland Generating Station

Alliant Energy has completed the implosion of the remaining structures of the company’s Marshaltown Iowa Sutherland Generating Station (SGS). The demolition was carried out by Bierlein Companies from Midland, Michigan, and Dykon Blasting Corporation of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The 1950s-era coal-fired facility ceased operations in June 2017 following the construction of the nearby Marshalltown Generating Station (MGS). MGS is a 706-megawatt natural gas-fired facility and is one of the most efficient natural gas power plants in the nation. Its construction complements Alliant Energy’s renewable energy expansion. As a result of investments in wind and solar energy, Alliant Energy will have the ability to provide cleaner energy for more than 600,000 Iowa homes.

Can Utility Companies Become Carbon Free by 2050?

Both Madison Gas and Electric and Alliant Energy say they support Governor Evers’ executive order setting a carbon-free
electricity goal for 2050. Annemarie Newman with Alliant Energy says the company is encouraged by the order. Alliant had previously set a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. “The question now is, how can we do more sooner?”, she said. 

With the announcement happening so recently, those details are still being hammered out. Madison Gas and Electric already had a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. They say they welcomed the executive order. “We share the vision of a cleaner energy future and look forward to working with the Governor and state regulators to advance strategies to achieve MGE’s goal of net-zero carbon electricity by 2050.”

PSC Authorizes $500 Million Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line

Wisconsin utility regulators granted final approval September 26th for a controversial power line while rebuffing conflict of interest charges from opponents of the nearly $500 million project. At a meeting interrupted by protesters, the Public Service
Commission voted unanimously to authorize construction of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek line between Dubuque and Middleton in a written order summarizing points the three commissioners agreed to during a hearing in August.