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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.

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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.”

PSC LIFTS MORATORIUM ON UTILITY DISCONNECTIONS

Customers who fall behind on their utility bills will soon face late fees and the prospect of having their power shut off after three months of government protection during the coronavirus pandemic. The Public Service Commission has voted unanimously to lift a moratorium on disconnections and other penalties that was put in place following executive orders issued by Gov. Tony Evers in March. Utilities will be allowed to send disconnection notices beginning July 15 to customers who are behind on their bills and have not worked out payment plans. Those customers could see power turned off as soon as July 25.

ALLIANT ENERGY OPENS NEW NATURAL GAS GENERATING STATION

The newly built West Riverside Energy Center near Beloit, Wisconsin, has officially put into service its 730-megawatt, combined-cycle, natural gas system, generating energy for customers of Alliant Energy. “We are proud to put our West Riverside Energy Center into service to provide reliable and affordable energy to our customers and communities,” according to David de Leon, President of Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin energy company. “Community support, strong partnerships, and hard work by countless employees, contractors, and suppliers made this a successful project. We appreciate the collaboration we have with the neighbors, the town and city of Beloit, Rock County, the state of Wisconsin, and the many other organizations, businesses, and individuals who continue to support this facility.”

WE ENERGIES DOWNTOWN BUILDING SUSTAINS MAJOR RAIN DAMAGE

Heavy rains have caused a major headache for We Energies. The company issued the following statement: “Heavy rain has caused flooding in parts of our steam system in Downtown Milwaukee – creating large steam plumes in parts of downtown. We are investigating a steam system outage that is impacting some customers.” We Energies officials say they don’t know what exactly caused the system of underground steam tunnels in downtown Milwaukee to be flooded with an unprecedented “tidal wave” of water during a major rainstorm. Not only did the steam outage leave hundreds of businesses without heat and hot water for several days, it did major damage to We Energies’ historic headquarters at North 2nd and West Michigan streets. “The estimate to repair is more than $10 million and may take as long as two months before we can reopen the building,” We Energies spokesman Brendan Conway said.

XCEL ENERGY HAS RESUMED RESIDENTIAL METER READING

In-person meter reading, which had been temporarily on hold for Xcel Energy’s Wisconsin and Michigan’s residential customers since mid-April due to COVID-19 concerns, has resumed. While many electric and gas meters are read automatically, some require an in-person reading. If customers have one of these meters, they should allow in-person meter readers and field crews to do their critical work.

WISCONSIN UTILITIES ON TRACK FOR REDUCTION IN CARBON EMISSIONS BY 2026

Emissions this year are expected to be significantly lower than they were 15 years ago, thanks to recent coal plant retirements. The findings are part of a draft Strategic Energy Assessment, a short-term forecast the Public Service Commission is required by law to complete every two years to look at the adequacy and reliability of the state’s electric grid. According to the draft, Wisconsin electric providers as a whole are on track to achieve a forty percent reduction of 2005 carbon emissions by 2026 — ahead of the 2030 target some have laid out.

ALLIANT ENERGY TO RETIRE COAL-FIRED GENERATION FACILITY IN SHEBOYGAN

With an eye toward delivering cleaner, more cost-effective energy, Alliant Energy has announced plans to retire the Edgewater Generating Station in Sheboygan by the end of 2022. Closing the coal generation facility and transitioning to renewable energy will help Alliant Energy customers avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in long-term costs.

TRANSMISSION LINE INSPECTIONS HAVE BEGUN

Xcel Energy transmission patrol crew has been flying helicopters alongside lines in Wisconsin to perform inspections to ensure the electric system remains reliable through the summer cooling months. The inspections also meet federal regulatory compliance requirements to secure a reliable electric system.
The crews will identify potential trouble spots along these lines or structural issues that need to be addressed and repaired. They will also look for encroachment issues, such as buildings on or near right of ways, or trees growing too close to transmission lines. Inspections on all Xcel Energy transmission lines in Wisconsin will take about 4-6 weeks. Helicopters will fly within fifty feet of transmission lines at varying speeds. At times the helicopter will hover near infrastructure to perform more detailed inspections. The exact flight schedule is dependent on weather and flying conditions.

MGE PROPOSES $31.7M SOLAR FARM IN FITCHBURG

Madison Gas and Electric has filed an application with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) for approval of a 20-megawatt solar array to be built in Fitchburg, Wisconsin. Known as the O’Brien Solar Fields, the project will provide locally generated solar energy to local businesses, municipalities and public institutions under MGE’s innovative Renewable Energy Rider.

“This is an exciting project for our participating customers and for MGE. Twenty megawatts of locally generated, cost effective carbon-free energy on our electric grid will help us achieve our goal of net-zero carbon electricity by 2050
and the sustainability goals of these customers,” according to MGE Chairman, President and CEO Jeff Keebler. “We
are thankful for their support and their participation and look forward to bringing what will be one of the largest solar
arrays in the state to Dane County.”

SOLAR PROJECT AT DANE COUNTY REGIONAL AIRPORT RECEIVES REGULATORY APPROVAL

Madison Gas and Electric has received approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin for an agreement to partner with Dane County on a 9-megawatt (MW) solar array near the Dane County Regional Airport. The solar array will generate enough carbon-free electricity to provide Dane County with about 40% of the energy used by all County-owned facilities, according to the County.

“Clean energy is important to MGE, to Dane County, and to many who live and work here. We support the County’s clean energy goals and are excited to partner on this project to add more locally generated renewable energy,” according to MGE Chairman, President and CEO Jeff Keebler. “Partnerships like this will help MGE achieve net-zero carbon electricity for all of our customers by 2050.”

ALLIANT PROJECTS REDUCTION IN SALES, NOT PROFITS

Alliant Energy says the COVID-19 pandemic will likely cause a 5 percent decline in sales, but should not affect shareholder profits this year. Alliant has announced first-quarter profits of 70 cents per share, up from 53 cents in the same period last year.

The gains were attributed to growing ratepayer-backed investments by its Wisconsin and Iowa utilities, offset by lower sales attributed to mild weather. Alliant said quarterly earnings were not significantly affected by COVID-19.

KLAPPA, FLETCHER CITE MILESTONES AT ANNUAL MEETING

At WEC Energy Group’s virtual annual meeting of stockholders Executive Chairman Gale Klappa and President and CEO Kevin Fletcher highlighted the work of more than 7,000 employees across the region, who are providing essential energy service during the COVID-19 health crisis. They also emphasized that 2019 was “another year of solid results,” pointing to achievements in financial performance, network reliability and infrastructure upgrades.

Highlights:

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ALLIANT ENERGY: ANNOUNCES SIX NEW SOLAR PROJECTS IN WISCONSIN

Alliant Energy has announced plans to acquire and advance 675 megawatts (MW) of solar in mostly rural areas in six Wisconsin counties: Grant, Jefferson, Richland, Rock, Sheboygan and Wood. The projects are the next step in the company’s Clean Energy Blueprint, a strategic road map to cost-effectively accelerate renewable energy while reducing carbon emissions. 

Once operational, the energy from the projects will be enough to power 175,000 homes per year – making Alliant Energy the largest owner-operator of solar in Wisconsin. Collectively, these projects are expected to create more than 1,200 local construction jobs, and, once operational, will provide an estimated $80 million in local tax revenues over the next 30 years.
“Solar energy is a smart investment for our Wisconsin customers,” said David de Leon, President of Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin energy company. “At a time when much is changing, these projects will provide steady revenue to Wisconsin communities, create new construction, operation and maintenance jobs, and provide our customers with reliable and sustainable energy for years to come. Along with the rest of the Clean Energy Blueprint, these projects will help customers avoid more than $2 billion in long-term costs.”

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Xcel Energy Inc. Board Declares Dividend on Common Stock

The Board of Directors of Xcel Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: XEL) declared a quarterly dividend on its common stock of 43 cents per share. The dividends are payable July 20, 2020, to shareholders of record on June 15, 2020.

WEC ENERGY GROUP REPORTS FIRST-QUARTER RESULTS

WEC Energy Group has reported net income of $452.5 million, or $1.43 per share, for the first quarter of 2020 – up from $420.1 million, or $1.33 per share, for the first quarter of 2019. Consolidated revenues totaled $2.1 billion, down $268.8 million from last year’s first quarter.

“We delivered another solid quarter, despite mild winter temperatures and an economic downturn that began in late March as businesses closed to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Gale Klappa, Executive Chairman. “In the months ahead, we will continue to focus on employee safety and on executing the fundamentals of our business – world-class reliability, customer satisfaction and financial discipline.” He added, “Our team is experienced and resilient. I’m confident we’ll shine through the challenges ahead.”

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ALLIANT ENERGY’S WEST RIVERSIDE ENERGY CENTER HONORED

The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) has announced that Alliant Energy’s West Riverside Energy Center project recently earned the Envision Platinum rating for sustainable infrastructure – the highest Envision recognition level.

This is Alliant Energy’s sixth power generation facility to receive Envision recognition, which demonstrates the company’s commitment to sustainable infrastructure planning and design. 

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