Lower Fuel Costs Could Offset We Energies Price Increase

Lower natural gas and coal costs could offset most of a small price hike that is set to hit electricity bills of We Energies customers next year. The utility has filed an application with the Public Service Commission to reduce by more than $17 million the amount it wants to spend for fuel burned in its power plants.
Lower natural gas prices are expected compared with this year, and lower costs to deliver coal by train to Wisconsin are now expected. In addition, the utility is forecasting $8 million in savings because more of the coal burned at its new power plant in Oak Creek will be less-costly coal mined in Wyoming, he said.
The plant was designed to burn coal mined in the eastern United States, but the utility is testing the ability of the plant to burn more western coal. Those reductions offset several increases in costs that the utility is expecting, including $4 million in higher costs to buy power from the Point Beach nuclear plant and higher costs of chemicals used in air pollution control equipment at coal-fired power plants. The fuel-cost savings would amount to 51 cents a month for a typical customer now paying $101.72 a month, according to We Energies.

Wisconsin Energy Receives Final Approval for Acquisition

Wisconsin Energy Corporation’s acquisition of Integrys
Energy Group has now received approval from the Illinois
Commerce Commission, the final step needed to complete
the $9.1 billion transaction. The acquisition will expand
Wisconsin Energy’s service territory into Illinois and
Minnesota and gas service into Michigan.

Shareholders from Minnesota and Wisconsin Meet in Hudson

Utility company stock dividends and alternate fuel vehicles were primary topics Tuesday, Oct. 16, in Hudson at a joint regional meeting of Wisconsin Utility Investors and Minnesota Utility Investors. Several alternative fuel vehicles were parked at the entrance to the Hudson Golf Club, where 90 WUI and MUI members and guests could get a close-up look.

Participants received an update on the nationwide “Defend My Dividend” program by WUI Executive Director Bob Seitz, and were urged to ask their representatives in Congress to stop a pending stock dividend tax increase at the end of the year. He said that unless Congress and the President act to stop the increase, the current tax rate of 15 percent on dividends would increase to a top rate as high as 43 percent. He stressed that lower dividend tax rates do not just benefit direct shareholders, but also millions of Americans who own stock indirectly through pension funds, 401(k) plans, mutual funds and individual retirement accounts.  Click here to send your message to your congressional leaders.  (Follow the link to “Contact Congress”.)

According to a panel of alternative fuel vehicle specialists who spoke at the meeting, the role of utility companies as transportation fuel providers will increase as a growing number of automobile manufacturers offer alternative fuel vehicles. Examples on display Tuesday included an electric Chevy Volt, electric Ford Transit Connect and two compressed natural gas-powered Honda Civics. Thor Bjork of Xcel Energy said the projected increase in number of electric vehicles is expected to place manageable demand on his company’s  infrastructure, but distribution system demand issues might arise in a neighborhood where a cluster of electric vehicles recharges simultaneously. Panelists explained that electric vehicle recharging is practical for homes and businesses, but compressed natural gas fuel is generally best suited for fleet vehicles or trucks. La Crosse-based Kwik Trip is promoting and marketing CNG based on its own experience operating and maintaining its distribution fleet.

Second Quarter Earnings for Wisconsin Utilities

Wisconsin’s investor owned utilities have all announced their second quarter earnings reports.  Here are links to each of the companies second quarter reports:

WE Energies

Alliant Energy

Madison Gas & Electric

Integrys Energy

Xcel Energy

Wisconsin Energy Corporation one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies.

Wisconsin Energy joined honorees such as Pepsi, McDonald’s, Starbuck’s, Mattel, Aflac and Johns Hopkins Hospital on Ethisphere’s 2009 honor roll. In March, Wisconsin Energy also was named – for the second year in a row – one of the nation’s best corporate citizens by Corporate Responsibility Officer Magazine.