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ALLIANT ENERGY ANNOUNCES SIX MORE SOLAR PROJECTS

Alliant Energy has announced plans for six solar projects totaling 414 megawatts as part of its move to add 1,000 megawatts of solar power in Wisconsin by 2023. The six projects — projected to cost $515 million — would be in Dodge, Grant, Green, Rock and Waushara counties.

The projects, which will require approval by the Public Service Commission, are in addition to six solar projects totaling 675 megawatts that Alliant announced in May of 2020. Those projects are in Grant, Jefferson, Richland, Rock, Sheboygan and Wood counties.

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STATE REGULATORS APPROVE UTILITIES’ PLANS FOR MANAGING PAST-DUE BILLS

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission has accepted utilities’ plans for managing the amount of money customers owe on unpaid utility bills as many people have fallen behind due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the PSC issued an order in March that barred utilities from disconnecting service due to nonpayment during the COVID-19 crisis. Regulators decided to end the year-long moratorium on utility shutoffs beginning April 15, 2021.

As of February, more than 93,000 residential customers met the threshold for disconnection due to unpaid bills along with roughly 4,800 business customers. By the end of last year, utilities had seen customers’ past-due balances grow to at least $309 million — an increase of fifty-eight percent from the year before.

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LEADERSHIP CHANGE AT ALLIANT SUBSIDIARY TRAVERO

Travero, the Iowa based logistics solutions subsidiary of Alliant Energy and parent company of CRANDIC Rail, has announced a transition in executive leadership. Kevin Burke has retired as President of Travero after 40 years with the company. Lisha Coffey has become the new the president after most recently serving as the company’s Chief Operating Officer.

NEW LAW INCREASES FUNDING FOR THE CITIZENS UTILITY BOARD

A new law signed by Gov. Tony Evers provides for additional funding for the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), which often battles with utilities over rate cases. The changes will allow the PSC to authorize up to $900,000 a year to the CUB with money coming from Wisconsin’s investor-owned utilities. It also revises a 2017 law that encouraged utility settlements in rate cases but created a timing mismatch from when CUB worked on cases and when it could request funding.

WEC ENERGY GROUP UTILITIES WON’T SEEK 2022 RATE INCREASE

WEC Energy Group has announced its utility subsidiaries will not seek approval from state regulators for potential increases to electric, natural gas and steam rates that would have gone into effect January 1. The utilities, which include Wisconsin Electric, Wisconsin Public Service and Wisconsin Gas, would have sought rate increases of four percent to six
percent to recover more than $300 million in revenue deficiencies.

Instead, the utilities are seeking approval from the Public Service Commission to apply certain balances from transmission credits, earnings sharing and cost escrow to cover a portion of the revenue deficiency. Management at the utilities would then be responsible for covering half to two-thirds of the revenue deficiency by finding efficiencies and cost reductions.

MGE LOOKS TO PURCHASE PART OF GRANT COUNTY WIND FARM

Madison Gas and Electric Company is seeking approval to buy part of a Grant County windfarm that would provide enough clean energy to power 4,000 of its households. MGE and the Wisconsin Public Service have announced their intention to ask the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to allow them to purchase the Red Barn Wind Farm. If the proposal is approved, MGE would own 9.1 megawatts of the 92-megawatt wind farm that will be built in the Towns of Wingville and Clifton in Grant County. WPS would own 82.5 megawatts of the 12,000 acre property.
The company said the Red Barn Wind Farm is another opportunity for MGE to invest further in cost-effective, clean energy as it moves toward carbon reductions of at least sixty-five percent by 2030 and a goal of net-zero carbon by 2050. MGE explained the purchasing of the wind farm would help MGE meet energy and capacity needs as it moves away from coal-fired electricity. The company plans to retire the Columbia Energy Center in Portage by the end of 2024.

WE ENERGIES AND WISCONSIN PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCE ANOTHER LARGE-SCALE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECT

We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service, subsidiaries of WEC Energy Group are advancing plans for a new 325-megawatt solar and battery storage project. 
The Darien Solar Energy Center is the company’s second proposed large-scale solar and battery project announced this year. If approved, the $446 million Darien Solar Energy Center would feature 250 MW of solar generation, which is equal to powering 75,000 homes, and 75 MW of battery storage, which can store solar-generated power and provide customers with “sunshine after sunset.” The project is planned to be built in Rock and Walworth counties, Wisconsin. 
Last month, the companies announced plans for the 310-MW Paris Solar-Battery Park. If approved, the $426 million Paris project will be built in Kenosha County, Wisconsin.

GOVERNOR EVERS RE-APPOINTS TWO REGULATORS

Governor Tony Evers has reappointed two Wisconsin utility regulators. Evers appointed Rebecca Valcq to a second two-year term as chair of the Public Service Commission and Tyler Huebner to a six year term as commissioner. Valcq was appointed to the commission in 2019. Her term expires in 2025. Huebner was appointed last year to serve out the term of former Commissioner Mike Huebsch, who stepped down in February 2020 with one year left on his term.

Commissioner Ellen Nowak was appointed in January 2019 for a second time by former Governor Scott Walker to complete the term of former Chairman Lon Roberts. Her term expires in 2023.

UTILITIES SEEK $19.2M IN POLLUTION CONTROL FOR COLUMBIA COAL PLANT SET TO CLOSE BY 2025

The owners of the Columbia Energy Center are proposing to spend nineteen million dollars to prevent groundwater contamination as they move to close the coal-fired power plant in the next four years. Alliant Energy, the majority owner, had announced earlier that it would retire the plant’s two units in 2023 and 2024, saying it would be more cost effective than keeping the 45-year-old plant running. But federal regulations require a new coal ash handling system designed to prevent toxic chemicals from leaching into groundwater, so the plant’s owners are asking regulators to approve a temporary solution to comply with the law and keep the plant running until they can replace it with clean energy.

XCEL ENERGY SETS ANOTHER SINGLE-YEAR RECORD IN CARBON REDUCTION

For the second year in a row, Xcel Energy has hit a significant milestone in its quest to deliver 100 percent carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050. The company broke its own record for a single-year drop in emissions in 2020, cutting carbon emissions company-wide by approximately six million tons, a 12 percent reduction over 2019 levels. That’s equivalent to taking nearly 1.2 million cars off the road for a year. In 2019, Xcel Energy achieved a 10 percent reduction over the previous year.
Since 2005, the company has reduced carbon emissions by fifty-one percent as it leads the nation’s clean energy transition. Xcel Energy’s 2020 carbon reductions outpaced the industry, which is ahead of any other part of the economy. At the end of 2020, it is estimated the U.S. electric power sector had reduced carbon emissions just under 40 percent from 2005 levels, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“We’re making tremendous progress towards delivering on our clean energy goals,” according to Ben Fowke, Chairman and CEO of Xcel Energy. “Even after factoring in the effect of the global pandemic on our operations, we are well on our way to achieving our goal of reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2030 and are more than halfway to delivering 100 percent carbon-free electricity to our customers, all while keeping their service reliable and energy bills low.”
Several factors contributed to the 2020 carbon reduction results. Xcel Energy continued to significantly increase wind generation on its system, becoming 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.
The company added more than 800 megawatts of new wind projects in late 2019, in addition to bringing nearly 2,200 megawatts of new wind projects online in 2020. By the end of 2021, Xcel Energy estimates that approximately thirty-five percent of its energy will be from wind. Through the company’s wind expansion, it has delivered approximately $430 million in fuel savings to its customers from 2017 to 2020.

WEC ENERGY GROUP SEEKING APPROVAL FOR $360M INVESTMENT IN SOLAR, BATTERY PARK

WEC Energy Group is seeking approval from state regulators to spend $360 million to own and create the first large-scale solar and battery storage project in Wisconsin.

The Paris Solar-Battery Park in Kenosha County would feature 200 MW of solar power generation and another 110 MW of battery storage. The solar arrays would be enough to power 60,000 homes while the battery storage system would discharge power after the sun goes down.

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MICHELS CORPORATION AND ALLIANT WORK WELL TOGETHER

Michels Corporation is making a major commitment to local clean energy by becoming an anchor tenant in Alliant Energy’s Fond du Lac community solar project. The 1-megawatt solar garden announced in December and planned for the southwest side of the city has received a significant boost from Michels Corporation.
Michels, a diversified energy and infrastructure contractor, is committing to purchasing thirty percent of the project’s solar blocks and becoming an anchor tenant. Michels has supported the project from the initial stages and is leasing the solar site to Alliant Energy. With Michels’ subscription, the total amount of solar blocks bought now exceeds seventy-five percent, just three months after launching the community solar project.
“We have partnered with Michels on energy projects for more than fifty years, and this builds upon the productive and positive history between our companies,” said David de Leon, president of Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin energy company. “Alliant Energy is excited that Michels will be an anchor tenant in the Fond du Lac community solar facility, and applauds their support for local clean energy.”
Michels’ headquarters, located in Brownsville, Wisconsin, is about a dozen miles south of the site for the planned Fond du Lac community solar garden. The company also has more than forty other locations across the U.S. and Canada.

ALLIANT CUSTOMERS UTILIZE FOCUS ON ENERGY OPTIONS

A record number of Alliant Energy’s residential customers found low-cost or no-cost energy efficiency options through
the Focus on Energy program in 2020. Product discounts and the convenience of an online marketplace drove a
135 percent increase in participating customers who made their home more comfortable and efficient. Alliant Energy’s
energy efficiency programs make energy-saving upgrades more affordable and are part of the company’s purpose driven
strategy to serve customers and build stronger communities.

WEC ENERGY INVESTS $302M IN WIND FARM

We Energies’ parent company has agreed to invest $302 million to acquire ninety percent ownership in a wind farm to be built in Kansas to generate renewable energy for Facebook. The company says the facility will be called the Jayhawk Wind Farm and be built in Bourbon and Crawford counties in Kansas. Jayhawk Wind Farm will sell the energy it generates under long-term contract to Facebook. The Jayhawk site will consist of 70 GE wind turbines with a combined capacity of more than 190 megawatts. Invenergy LLC of Chicago will acquire the remaining ten percent ownership interest and will operate the facility. The project will be part of a $16 billion capital plan that WEC Energy announced in November 2020. The plan includes investing nearly $2 billion in solar, wind and battery storage and retiring older, less-efficient fossil-fueled generation by 2025.

WEC AND MGE HOPE TO BUY WALWORTH COUNTY SOLAR AND BATTERY PROJECT

Three of Wisconsin’s largest utilities plan to spend $446 million on a second large-scale solar farm with battery storage. WEC Energy Group and Madison Gas and Electric have filed a request with the Public Service Commission to buy a 250-megawatt Walworth County solar farm that would generate enough electricity for about 75,000 homes and include a 75-megawatt battery. The project has been developed by Invenergy, a Chicago-based energy company. It sits on about 2,000 acres stretching west from Delavan to the Rock County line. The Commission is expected to make a decision on the construction permit by summer. WEC subsidiaries, We Energy and Wisconsin Public Service Corp., would together own 90 percent and MGE ten percent.

WE ENERGIES PRESIDENT RETURNING TO AUSTRALIA

Tom Metcalfe, President of We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service, will leave Milwaukee-based WEC Energy Group at the end of the year, the utility has reported. Metcalfe has told the company that he and his family have made the difficult decision to relocate to Australia for personal reasons.

In a message to employees, WEC Energy Group Executive Chairman Gale Klappa and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Fletcher said Metcalfe “will remain fully engaged in carrying out his responsibilities through the end of this year, and he will continue to support the company until his retirement in July, 2022.” WEC has indicated a new president would be
named later this year.

XCEL ENERGY BOARD INCREASES 2021 COMMON DIVIDEND BY 6.4 PERCENT

The Board of Directors of Xcel Energy has raised the quarterly dividend on the company’s common stock from 43 cents per share to 45.75 cents per share, which is equivalent to an annual rate of $1.83 per share. The dividends are payable April 20, 2021, to shareholders of record on March 15, 2021.
“We are increasing our dividend 6.4 percent, which is consistent with our objective of growing the dividend 5-7 percent annually. The dividend increase is evidence of our confidence in our long-term business plan and our commitment to provide shareholders an attractive total return,” according to Ben Fowke, Chairman and CEO of Xcel Energy.

WISCONSIN REGULATORS TO CHART 'ROADMAP' TO CARBON-FREE ELECTRICITY

The Public Service Commission has voted 2-1 to open an investigation called a “Roadmap to Zero Carbon” to explore the economic and environmental considerations related to the deployment of more clean energy technologies. According to the notice, the commission will study topics including:

  • Changes in utility-scale generation that reduce overall carbon emissions, including the retirement of existing fossil fuel plants.
  • Deployment of customer-level resources and programs that help customers control their energy use and lower their costs.
  • Deployment of new technologies, such as battery storage and micro grids.
  • The design and operation of the regional wholesale market and transmission grid.

The investigation will also consider plans by each of the state’s five largest utilities to eliminate carbon emissions by 2050, recommendations of the governor’s climate change task force and a new Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy, and strategies for creating jobs and lowering costs.

ALLIANT ENERGY TO CLOSE ITS LAST WISCONSIN COAL PLANT

Alliant Energy has announced it will shutter its last remaining coal plant in Wisconsin by the end of 2024. The closure moves Alliant closer toward the company’s goal of eliminating coal from its power mix by 2040 and cutting carbon emissions by fifty percent by 2030 from 2005 levels. The move is expected to save ratepayers more than $250 million that would be spent to keep the plant running, according to David de Leon, President of Alliant’s utility in Wisconsin.

Alliant released a $900 million plan in May to add 675 megawatts of solar across six counties as part of a goal to add 1,000 megawatts of solar power by the end of 2023 which would power about 260,000 homes. Wisconsin Power and Light, Alliant’s utility in Wisconsin, anticipated its Clean Energy Blueprint would save customers between $2 billion and $6.5 billion over the next 35 years. Alliant co-owns the coal plant with Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) and Madison Gas and Electric

XCEL ENERGY REPORTS 2020 YEAR END EARNINGS

Xcel Energy has reported 2020 GAAP and ongoing earnings of $1.47 billion, or $2.79 per share, compared with $1.37 billion, or $2.64 per share in the same period in 2019.

“Xcel Energy had a strong year despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19,” said Ben Fowke, chairman and CEO. “We achieved major milestones while keeping our employees and customers safe and are well positioned for the coming year and beyond.”

“I’m proud of the support we provided our communities, committing nearly $20 million to short and long-term corporate giving. Our $750 million plan to repower several wind farms in Minnesota was approved, which is expected to result in substantial customer savings and jobs creation. In Colorado, we received approval for an electric vehicle plan and are excited about the related opportunities. We also announced the early retirement of the Hayden and Craig coal plants and plans to convert our Harrington facility to natural gas. These achievements move us closer to achieving our goals of an 80 percent carbon reduction by 2030 and delivering 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050.”