WEC Energy (WEC) to Add 200-MW Solar Energy in Wisconsin (Revised)

Per a recent media report, WEC Energy Group, Inc. WEC received approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin for two solar projects. Of the total 450 megawatt (MW) capacity, WEC Energy, through its subsidiary Wisconsin Public Service Corp (“WPS”), will own 200 MW and Madison Gas & Electric Co. MGEE will acquire 100 MW. The remaining 150 MW is yet to find a buyer.

The total cost of the projects is expected to be $390 million, of which $260 million will be expended by WPS and the balance will be contributed by Madison Gas & Electric. The projects are expected to initiate commercial service by the end of 2020.

Notably, the solar projects in Manitowoc county will be developed by NextEra Energy’s NEE unit NextEra Energy Resources. Moreover, the Badger Hollow project in Iowa county will bedeveloped by Invenergy. These projects are expected to produce enough renewable energy equivalent to the power consumed by 120,000 Wisconsin households in a year.

Development of Renewable Projects

The demand for energy is rising in the United States and going forward a major portion of the electricity will be produced from clean sources. Per a forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (“EIA”), all renewable fuels — wind, solar, and hydroelectric — will account for 18% of U.S. electricity in 2019 and almost 20% in 2020. In addition, EIA projects that U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emission will decline by 1.6% in 2019 and 1.0% in 2020.

Utility companies’ shift to the renewables in the past few years is notable. These companies are inclined toward alternate energy to generate electricity and have reduced the usage of fossil fuels. WEC Energy also focuses on lowering carbon emissions by approximately 40% below 2005 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050. In December 2018, WEC Energy received approval for the Solar Now pilot program, under which the company is expected to add up to 35 MW of solar panels on customer’s property.

Long-Term Plans

The company expects long-term earnings growth in the range of 5-7% per year, with more than 99% of the bottom line being derived from regulated operations. In 2018, the company invested $2.1 billion, up from the spending of $156 million in 2017. WEC Energy expects total capital expenditure to be nearly $14.1 billion over the 2019-2023 time frame.

Moreover, the company is making strategic acquisitions to expand existing operations. In Jan 2019, the company acquired 80% ownership of Coyote Ridge Wind Farm. The site comprises 39 GE wind turbines and has capacity of 97 MW.Involvements in wind and solar projects indicate the company’s growing interest in renewable expansions.

Apart from WEC Energy, a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company, utilities like Duke Energy DUK is also involved in solar generation projects. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

(We are reissuing this article to correct a mistake. The original article, issued on April 12, 2019, should no longer be relied upon.)

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