(WisBusiness) THURS News Summary — 14 Feb. 2008

From WisBusiness.com …
— Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, a subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group, has filed a request with the state Public Service Commission to increase electric rates about 90 cents per month for typical residential customers due to what it said are “much higher than expected fuel costs” to generate or purchase electricity.

“Our costs were significantly higher in January than we included in rates and we expect that to continue through part of 2008,” said Public Service Manager of Electric Fuel Cost Recovery John Guntlisbergen. “If fuel costs vary significantly higher or lower than indicated in rates, we are expected to approach the Commission to either increase the base rates or reduce them.”

Contributing factors for the request include increased purchased power costs due to a later start-up of the new Weston 4 power plant, increased coal and coal transportation costs, and increased natural gas costs. Previously, Public Service projected that the Weston 4 plant had a chance to begin generating start-up electricity in January 2008.

“While our assumption turned out to be optimistic, the project is still on schedule with a commercial operation date of June 2008 and will create significant savings in power costs when it does begin generating,” Guntlisbergen said.

— The Rocky Mountain News, a Denver newspaper, reported Wednesday that Molson Coors vice chairman Pete Coors, who will serve as chairman of MillerCoors, says the future headquarters of the merged companies will probably be located in a city other than Denver or Milwaukee.

The newspaper’s story also cited unnamed sources that indicated that MillerCoors is strongly considering Chicago or Dallas as headquarters sites.

“There’s a fairly strong sense a neutral site would be important,” Coors told the newspaper. “If you pick one city over another, people in the other city will say, ‘They’re running the deal.’ I don’t think that’s particularly healthy.”

A decision about where the MillerCoors headquarters will be has not been made, Coors told the newspaper. See story: http://www.biztimes.com/daily/2008/2/13/#journal-communications-caps-choppy-year

— Wisconsin now faces a projected $652.3 million shortfall for the biennium, according to new projections from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

The LFB had previously estimated a hole that could reach $400 million but said in Wednesday’s letter to the Joint Finance co-chairs that the January tax collections and February forecast “both point to further weakness in general fund tax collections.”

There isn’t a timeline for Gov. Jim Doyle to introduce a bill to repair the shortfall. But spokesman Jessica Erickson said addressing it is “certainly a priority for the governor.”

On Tuesday, DOA Secretary Mike Morgan sent a letter to cabinet agency heads asking them to cut an additional $111 million from their budgets this fiscal year, on top of the $200 million called for in the budget.

See the letter:


— Presidential candidate and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama began a new TV spot Wednesday in which he said “enough is enough” when it comes to companies shipping jobs overseas.

Watch the ad:


The spot shows Obama talking to a small crowd. He tells them they’re on their own now when a company they’ve been working at for years moves the plant to China.

“We gotta stop giving tax breaks to companies that are moving overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that are investing in the United States of American,” he says. “Enough is enough.”

The end of the spot encourages people to vote Tuesday and notes polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Check the WisPolitics Elections Blog for complete coverage:


— Obama laid out his economic policy to several hundred workers gathered at the General Motors assembly plant in Janesville Wednesday, using the opportunity to contrast his record to his Democratic rival, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Obama drew the loudest response from the crowd when he vowed to fund his economic agenda “by ending this war in Iraq.”

“It’s time we stop spending money on putting Iraq back together and start spending money to put America back together,” he said.

Obama blasted Clinton for voting for legislation that made it more difficult to declare bankruptcy.

“Even though she voted for it, she said she was glad it didn’t pass,” he said, adding that kind of logic is used only in Washington.

*See WisPolitics video of Obama’s speech:


*See details of Obama’s economic proposals and prepared text of his speech:


— The Assembly Committee on Biofuels and Sustainable Energy yesterday put off a vote on legislation setting new benchmarks for renewable fuels.

Critics have called it an ethanol mandate, and the Senate pulled back the companion legislation earlier this year after beginning debate on the floor.





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Press Releases

Alliant Energy Corporation Utility Subsidiaries Declare Preferred Stock Dividends

Credit Unions Urge Caution in Use of Account Statements for Identification

Defense Logistics Agency Recognizes Weinbrenner Shoe Company Inc.

High Fuel Costs Push Wisconsin Public Service to Seek Slight Increase in Electric Rates

Integrys Energy Group, Inc. Announces Fourth Quarter 2007 Earnings Conference Call

Thrive Announces New Director of Agriculture Initiatives

For these and more releases visit



Obama Blames Bush For Economic Downturn In Wisconsin Stops: Sen. Barack Obama blamed President George W. Bush Wednesday for the economic downturn in remarks to General Motors workers in Janesville. The automakers are among 74,000 GM employees considering a buyout offer. The Democratic presidential candidate spoke at the Janesville plant a day after the company reported the largest annual loss ever for an American automaker — nearly $39 billion in 2007. “Through hard times and good, great challenges and great change, the promise of Janesville has been the promise of America,” Obama said. “For our economy, our safety and our workers, we have to rebuild America.” Obama told about 300 workers that failed leadership and imagination in Washington have caused economic struggles, including the housing crisis.


Chicago chasing MillerCoors: … Chicago is among the metro areas pitching for the MillerCoors LLC headquarters, which could mean about 100 jobs and a huge mug of corporate prestige. Those efforts drew attention Wednesday when Pete Coors, chairman of Golden, Colo.-based Coors Brewing, was quoted as saying the proposed joint venture’s headquarters would probably land somewhere other than the Milwaukee or Denver areas. … But industry sources said there has been speculation that either Chicago or Dallas could be the future home of MillerCoors. Other cities are expected to make pitches.



– Miller: Despite report, Milwaukee still in running for MillerCoors HQ


State budget report warns of $652 million deficit: The state will face a budget deficit of more than $650 million over the next few years, according to a report released from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau today. The bureau, which had earlier pegged the figure at about $300 million to $400 million, said the new numbers reflect “further weakness in tax collections” during the last quarter of 2007. … In a memo to the co-chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, fiscal bureau chief Bob Lang said that the Department of Administration has already implemented cost-cutting measures that would cut the deficit by about $236 million over the next two years.


MGIC’s quarterly loss tops $1 billion; Drop may be largest ever by public firm in state, analyst says: Shares of MGIC Investment Corp. dropped 11% Wednesday after the Milwaukee mortgage insurance company said it lost $1.47 billion in the fourth quarter, believed to be the largest quarterly loss ever by a public company in Wisconsin. MGIC, which has been battered by the collapse of the subprime mortgage market, said that $1.2 billion of the loss was a reserve set up to pay expected claims in a line of business it has since abandoned. Another $33 million of the loss was the after-tax value of the write-off of its investment of C-BASS, a subprime mortgage venture.



– MGIC reports $1.5B loss


Court Hearing Set On Metropolitan Place Condo Foreclosure: Two banks that are foreclosing on Phase II of Metropolitan Place condominiums in downtown Madison are expected to ask a judge at a hearing Thursday to appoint someone to sell the property. Meanwhile, the general manager of Willy Street Co-op said it is still committed to trying to make its location at the condo site work. But Anya Firszt said that even under the best scenario, the second grocery location inside Metropolitan Place won’t be able to open until next fall, WISC-TV reported.


Despite recession fears, flower sales remain strong: Not even fears of a recession can keep shoppers from buying that special something for their Valentine. Economic concerns may impact spending during other holidays, but Valentine’s sales remain strong, local business owners say. In fact, getting out and spending a little may even help chase away some of those winter blues.




GREGG HOFFMANN: Contributor, WisBusiness.com

TOM STILL: President, Wisconsin Technology Council

JENNIFER SERENO: Senior manager, Wood Communications Group

STEVE JAGLER: Executive editor, Small Business Times

TOM BURZINSKI: IT executive and consultant


TECHNOLOGY (back to top)

– TomoTherapy touts fourth-quarter results


– Stores hit for misleading on digital TV


ECONOMY (back to top)

– State budget deficit may hit $652M


– Effects of projected state budget shortfall unclear


– Mainly Manitowoc seeks verbal, financial support


– Legislation would give towns more money


MANUFACTURING (back to top)

– Wausau Paper expands share repurchases


LABOR (back to top)

– De Pere Wastewater employees want pay for banked sick leave


– Milwaukee: Job report for city sobering


SMALL BUSINESS (back to top)

– Kaukauna capitalizes on boom in wedding market


– Plowing firms snowed under


INVESTING (back to top)

– Check mail for tax rebates in spring


– Pension Fund loses $56 million


– Journal sees profit decline


REAL ESTATE (back to top)

– Madison: Novation Campus shifts focus


– Greenville: Session focuses on smart growth


– Manitowoc: Deal nears for Hotel Mead


– Cudahy panel recommends new plans for Powerade site


AGRIBUSINESS (back to top)

– Wausau: Town, loggers try to find common ground


– Cheesemaker scores Tennessee drug cave


TRANSPORTATION (back to top)

– DOT weighs I-43 exit for Whistling Straits


– Officials downplay fears of changes in local airspace control


RETAIL (back to top)

– Sweet time for retailers


– Fair trade flourishes; Shops get area’s first roses with special certification


– Distilling liquor goes local


– Bellevue Village Board gives go-ahead to Wal-Mart


– Moody’s downgrades Boston Store parent Bon-Ton


REGULATION (back to top)

– Kohl plans national legislation to end foreclosure scams


– Drivers cell phone use may be banned in Marshfield


TOURISM (back to top)

– Milwaukee: Mayor wants to revive big parade; Circus wagons boosted tourism, Barrett says


UTILITIES (back to top)

– Vir-Clar Farms, Second Nature provide Fond du Lac area with renewable energy


HEALTH CARE (back to top)

– St. Agnes Hospital appoints new chief of medical staff



– Acquisition of Merchants, Ozaukee Bank to close this month


Media Partners


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–GOOGLE NEWS: http://news.google.com/news/en/us/business.html

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