Former A.O. Smith CEO Paul Jones exiting WEC Energy board

Retired A.O. Smith Corp. CEO Paul Jones has retired from the WEC Energy Group Inc. board effective Dec. 31, 2017.

Xcel Energy to transfer stock exchange listing to Nasdaq Ticker symbol to remain “XEL”

Xcel Energy announced that it will voluntarily transfer its stock exchange listing from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to the Nasdaq Global Select Market (Nasdaq), effective December 29, 2017 after the market close. Xcel Energy shares are expected to begin trading as a Nasdaq-listed security on January 2, 2018. The company will retain its current ticker symbol “XEL”.

“We are pleased to join the world’s most innovative companies listed on Nasdaq, and to be the first Fortune 500 utility listed on Nasdaq,” said Ben Fowke, chairman, president, CEO, Xcel Energy. “This move is a natural transition for Xcel Energy as the company embraces technology and innovation. We are excited to partner with Nasdaq to leverage cutting-edge technology, trading liquidity, enhanced visibility opportunities and cost efficiencies.” 

 “Nasdaq is proud to be the listing venue of choice for Xcel Energy and a dedicated business partner for the company and its shareholders,” said Adena Friedman, president and CEO, Nasdaq. “As the energy industry evolves, Nasdaq remains committed to supporting innovators like Xcel Energy as they lead the clean energy transition on behalf of customers.”

 

2017 – 2018 Legislative Update

The Wisconsin Legislature concluded its last floor period of the year in mid-November and is not expected to be back in session until late January 2018. The Legislature usually concludes it’s work during the second year of the biennium in early spring – March or April, and adjourns so that members can begin campaigning for the fall elections. So far this session, the Legislature has not taken action on any truly high-profile energy or utility issues. While some significant bills have been introduced, they have seen little activity to date. Other less significant matters, that address various minor utility issues, have been addressed by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor.

These circumstances reflect a continuation of the positive political climate that utilities have enjoyed in Wisconsin in recent years – no major legislative threats or challenging new regulations to address.
Outlined below are some of the key issues on which WUI is engaged or is monitoring

SOLAR ENERGY PETITION
The Wisconsin Solar Energy Industries Association petitioned the PSC for a declaratory ruling allowing its members to install electric generating equipment at the residences or facilities of customers, and sell the member generated energy to those customers, outside of the existing utility regulatory framework. The utilities oppose this petition, because of consumer protection and potential subsidy issues. The Commission is currently considering whether to take up the petition and open a docket on the matter.

REGULATORY REFORM
AB 42/
SB15
Makes various changes to the process of adopting and enforcing administrative rules. One provision would require the Legislature to vote to approve any rule that has compliance costs that exceed $10 million. Utilities were concerned that this provision could potentially interfere with implementation of required EPA regulations. The bill was amended to exempt federal air rules from this requirement.
It subsequently passed both houses and was signed into law by the Governor as WI Act 57

LEASED GENERATION CONTRACTS
AB198 / SB115

Allows the Public Service Commission (PSC) to unilaterally modify or terminate existing leased generation contracts entered into by public utilities and their affiliates. Leased generation is used as a means of helping finance major generation infrastructure improvements. Modifying or terminating exiting leased generation contracts could be financially detrimental to both utilities and utility shareholders. Utilities and WUI strongly oppose these bills. They were the main subject of lobbying at the WUI Legislative Day in 2017.
So far, the legislature has taken no action on either bill.

SHAREHOLDER MEETINGS
AB 357/SB 285

Authorizes the board of directors of a corporation to allow shareholders of the corporation to participate in shareholder meetings by remote communication, without being physically present. Utilities supported these bills.
SB 285 passed both houses and was signed into law as WI Act 79.

BIENNIAL PSC REVISIONS
AB 532/SB 475

Transfers various duties and powers from the Department of Administration (DOA) to the Public Service Commission (PSC). Makes changes to Wisconsin energy policy and laws governing public utilities. The utilities support these bills. AB 532 passed the Assembly and has been referred to the Senate Utilities Committee.
WISCONSIN STATE BUDGETAB 64/SB 30

  • Stray Voltage – As introduced, the Budget Bill would have eliminated the stray voltage program administered jointly by the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Utilities were concerned that elimination of this program would leave farmers with stray voltage issues, few productive options when seeking relief. As a result, the legislature restored one position at the PSC and one veterinarian at DATCP along with appropriate support, to continue the program. These changes remained in the bill as signed by the Governor.
  • Intervenor Compensation Funding – As introduced, the Budget Bill increased funding for the intervenor compensation program that helps support consumer groups that participate in rate cases before the Public Service Commission (PSC). Utilities believe that robust intervenor participation in rate cases, helps develop a more complete and balanced record at the Commission, which mitigates against judicial review of Commission decisions. The Legislature approved the Governor’s request for an increase of $742,600 in intervenor compensation over the biennium, which remained in the bill as signed by the Governor.

We Wish You A…

WEC Energy Drops “Interim” From Klappa’s Title In SEC Filing

WEC Energy Group removed the “interim” from the title for CEO Gale Klappa following his appointment as President and CEO after CEO Allen Leverett suffered a stroke several months ago. Leverett, 51, was released from the hospital on October 27th and is receiving speech therapy as he continues his recovery according to a regulatory filing. He retains his title of President which was his title before he was promoted to President and CEO in May, 2016. Klappa is expected to act as CEO until Leverett is able to re-assume his duties.

Introducing…

 

MGE Receives Approval To Move Ahead With Largest Wind Farm To Date

Madison Gas and has received approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) to construct, own and operate a 66-megawatt (MW) wind farm near Saratoga, Iowa. The
approximately $107 million project will be MGE’s largest wind farm to date—delivering energy to power approximately 47,000 homes. The decision by the PSCW enables MGE to continue advancing the company’s clean energy goals by increasing its use of renewable energy and further reducing carbon dioxide emissions as laid out in its Energy 2030 framework.

“MGE is committed to increasing renewable energy and driving carbon out of our energy supply mix,” President and CEO Jeff Keebler said. “We’re working to achieve a more sustainable energy supply mix using the best, most cost-effective technologies as they become available.”  Consisting of 33 wind turbines, the Saratoga Wind Farm will be located about 200 miles west of Madison, Wis. This site was chosen for its strong winds and proximity to existing transmission infrastructure, making it well situated for delivering clean energy to MGE customers.  “New wind turbine technology delivers greater efficiency, providing more electricity per turbine,” Keebler added.  “The economics of both the location and turbine technology will provide affordable, clean energy to MGE customers for years to come.”

MGE anticipates construction will begin in the spring of 2018, with the Saratoga Wind Farm online by the end of 2018.

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