MILWAUKEE, May 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — At the Wisconsin Energy (NYSE:WEC) 2007 annual meeting today, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Gale Klappa updated stockholders on power plant construction progress at Oak Creek and Port Washington, discussed financial initiatives, and reviewed actions management is taking to grow the company, improve customer satisfaction and enhance shareholder value. Approximately 450 stockholders attended the meeting, which was held at The Pabst Theater in downtown Milwaukee.
During the meeting, stockholders approved re-election of the following directors to terms expiring at the 2008 annual meeting: John F. Ahearne, John F. Bergstrom, Barbara L. Bowles, Patricia W. Chadwick, Robert A. Cornog, Curt S. Culver, Thomas J. Fischer, Gale E. Klappa, Ulice Payne, Jr. and Frederick P. Stratton, Jr. Stockholders also ratified Deloitte & Touche LLP as independent auditors for 2007.
2006 Highlights — Klappa cited the following 2006 highlights:
— As a result of improved performance, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission ended its increased oversight of the company’s Point Beach
Nuclear Plant, moving the plant from Column 4 to Column 1 of the NRC’s
Action Matrix. The facility also set an all-time record for energy
generated in a calendar year and the company agreed to sell the plant
for the highest price per kilowatt of capacity ever achieved in the
— Completing a run of 517 consecutive days at Pleasant Prairie Power
Plant’s Unit 1 — by far the longest run in the plant’s 20+ year
— Being recognized as the most reliable utility in the Midwest for the
fourth time in the past five years.
— Tracking on time and on budget with construction at Oak Creek and Port
— Improving employee safety — reducing lost-time accidents by 20 percent
and OSHA recordable injuries by 11.6 percent.
— Being one of only three U.S. companies to consistently receive the
highest rating — a perfect 10 — for its corporate governance
practices from GovernanceMetrics International, an independent ratings
— Being named corporation of the year by an arm of the Metropolitan
Milwaukee Association of Commerce for the company’s efforts to advance
Stock price performance — Wisconsin Energy stock continued to outperform both the S&P 500 and a Custom Peer Group Index of investor-owned utility companies nationwide. One hundred dollars invested in Wisconsin Energy at the end of 2001 was worth $241 at the end of 2006, assuming reinvested dividends. The same investment in the Custom Peer Group Index and S&P 500 was valued at $188 and $135, respectively.
Earnings — In 2006, Wisconsin Energy’s earnings from continuing operations totaled $312 million or $2.64 per share as compared with $304 million or $2.56 per share in 2005. Excluding a gain of 5 cents and 14 cents per share in 2006 and 2005, respectively, from the reversal of state tax operating losses, and a 1 cent per share gain on the sale of its interest in the Guardian Pipeline in 2006, the company’s adjusted earnings from continuing operations were $2.58 per share in 2006 as compared with $2.42 per share in 2005.
Dividend increase — In January 2007, Wisconsin Energy’s board of directors raised the dividend by 8.7 percent. At $1.00 per share annually, the company’s dividend rate is now 25 percent higher than it was at the beginning of 2004. Klappa said the company’s goal is to raise the dividend annually at approximately half the rate of earnings per share growth.
Power the Future — Klappa estimated that the direct impact to the Wisconsin economy of the company’s Power the Future construction will exceed $900 million for labor and suppliers. Work at the company’s major construction projects at Oak Creek and Port Washington remain on schedule and on budget. The first natural gas-fueled unit at Port Washington went into service in July 2005 and the second unit is expected to come on line in 2008. When complete, the Port Washington Generating Station is projected to have a total capacity of 1,150 megawatts. Work on the Oak Creek expansion is about 30 percent complete. The first 615-megawatt unit is scheduled for completion in 2009 and the second in 2010. Klappa discussed the one remaining legal challenge still pending at Oak Creek, explaining that an environmental group is seeking to overturn the company’s permit to operate the water intake system, which was earlier approved by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The Dane County Circuit Court remanded the permit for further review, but Klappa explained that work at Oak Creek continues while an administrative law judge reviews the permit.
Klappa also outlined plans for the Blue Sky Green Field wind project in Fond du Lac County, which was approved by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission in February. The company plans to erect approximately 88 turbines with a capacity of up to 145 megawatts to help meet the state’s recent renewable energy mandate — requiring 10 percent of the state’s electricity to be supplied by renewable sources by 2015. Projected cost of the wind project is approximately $300 million. Work is expected to begin this summer and the company expects to complete the project in 2008.
Customer satisfaction — Klappa noted that among customers who had contact with We Energies during the first quarter of 2007, more than 92 percent were satisfied or very satisfied with the transaction — and nearly 87 percent were satisfied or very satisfied with the company.
Electric rates — Klappa explained that none of the electric rate increases over the past seven years has been caused by day-to-day operations. “Over the past seven years, we have offset the rising cost of operations, absorbing increases in salaries, health care costs, gasoline for our trucks and the other day-to-day expenses of operating a business,” said Klappa. He went on to illustrate that since 2001, fuel and purchased power costs alone have raised electric rates by 14.3 percent, funding the company’s Power the Future construction plan has increased electric rates by 9.2 percent, transmission costs have added 6.4 percent, reliability/air quality control initiatives have added 1.8 percent, and renewables/efficiency investments have raised electric rates by 0.9 percent.
Earnings per share listed in this news release are on a fully diluted basis.
A replay of the 2007 Annual Meeting of Stockholders is available on the Wisconsin Energy Web site — http://www.wisconsinenergy.com/.
Wisconsin Energy Corporation (NYSE:WEC) , based in Milwaukee, is one of the nation’s premier energy companies, serving more than 1.1 million electric customers in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and more than 1 million natural gas customers in Wisconsin. The company’s principal utilities are We Energies and Edison Sault Electric. The company’s non-utility businesses include renewable energy technology and real estate development.
Wisconsin Energy Corporation (http://www.wisconsinenergy.com/) has more than $11 billion of assets, 5,200 employees and approximately 53,000 stockholders of record.
Certain statements contained herein are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon management’s current expectations and are subject to risks and uncertainties, including those matters described under the heading “Factors Affecting Results, Liquidity and Capital Resources” in Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and under the headings “Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward- Looking Information” and “Risk Factors” contained in Wisconsin Energy Corporation’s Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2006, and other factors described in subsequent reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in the statements. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. In some cases, forward-looking statements may be identified by reference to a future period or periods or by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “anticipates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “expects,” “forecasts,” “intends,” “may,” “objectives,” “plans,” “possible,” “potential,” “projects” or similar terms or variations of these terms. We expressly disclaim any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.