FRI AM News: WEC Energy Group report highlights future spending plans; WisBusiness: The Podcast with Eric Borgerding, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Hospital Association

— WEC Energy Group, which has millions of customers in Wisconsin, plans to spend more than $14 billion in the next four years on improving delivery of natural gas and electricity, as well as other areas. 

That’s from the company’s 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report, which profiles projects being pursued in its service area, covering parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois. It includes an update for an ongoing modernization effort at Wisconsin Public Service, which first began in 2014. This project aims to improve reliability mainly in heavily forested rural areas. 

The first phase of the project was completed last year, after WPS installed more than 1,000 miles of underground circuits to replace overhead lines. The company also added automation equipment on 400 miles of lines. That first phase included $220 million in investment, the report shows. 

The second of the project, which started last year, will add 1,000 more miles of underground circuits at a cost of $210 million. WPS aims to finish that phase by the end of 2021. 

Between 2019 and 2023, the company plans to funnel $14.1 billion into a number of areas, with more than half of that going toward natural gas and electric distribution infrastructure. The company plans to spend $5.1 billion on natural gas distribution, and $2.5 billion on electric distribution. WEC plans to spend a further $2.5 billion on generation capacity, $1.5 billion on other infrastructure projects, and $1.1 billion on technology. 

In all, the report shows WPS has 446,500 electric customers and 330,400 natural gas customers in Wisconsin. WEC Energy Group’s other Wisconsin entity, We Energies, has more than 1.1 million electric customers and over 1.1 natural gas customers in the state. 

See more: 

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” features returning guest Eric Borgerding, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Hospital Association. 

The discussion focuses on the future of Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin. 

“Governor Evers, in fighting so hard for expansion, has clearly put expansion on the table in Wisconsin,” Borgerding said. “No question about that.” 

And he expects the issue to stay on the table. Even as Republicans worked to strip Medicaid expansion from the budget proposed by Evers, Borgerding notes Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald called the effort a moving target — a positive indication, according to him. 

“He knows it will be back, and it will,” he said. “Governor Evers is going to have at least one more budget to introduce. And I don’t think anyone should think Medicaid expansion won’t be back in that budget.” 

According to him, Evers has started the conversation on Medicaid expansion “at a level and depth” that hasn’t existed for many years in the state. 

Between now and the next budget, Borgerding advises looking to other states as potential models “to find a compromise” on Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin. 

Wisconsin didn’t take the federal money for Medicaid expansion, but the state’s Medicaid program, BadgerCare Plus, covers people who earn up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level. 

“I think that between now and the next budget, we could see a lot of things happening from other states that could provide a viable pathway for Wisconsin to achieve recognition of the expansion that we’ve done,” he said. 

Listen to the podcast here: 

Listen to a previous podcast with Borgerding: 

See a full list of podcasts, sponsored by UW-Madison: 

— The latest episode of “ The Show” features an interview with Elmer Moore Jr., co-chairman of the recent Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Milwaukee. He talks about his work with Scale Up Milwaukee and the city’s tech scene.

Also, Liz Schrum presents Tech Metrics, which chart key indicators and events in the Wisconsin economy.

In a separate commentary, Tech Council President Tom Still talks about an international race to roll out 5G telecommunications networks and legislation that will position Wisconsin at the starting line.

Watch the show here: 

Listen to a recent podcast with Moore: 

— The UW Board of Regents has unanimously approved a proposal to increase student fees as part of its annual operating budget. 

Ahead of yesterday’s vote, Board Vice President Drew Petersen said the board shouldn’t lose sight of the “value and quality” associated with attending a UW school. 

“We need to continue to have the dialogue on the importance of reinvestment in the UW System, so that we’re not diluting our quality,” Petersen said. 

The increases in segregated fees, room and board over the academic year range from $8 at UW-River Falls, which amounts to a 0.1 percent increase, to $429 at UW-Madison, a 2 percent increase. 

The two-day meeting continues today with presentations from various board committees. 

See materials from yesterday’s meeting, including a list of fee increases: 

— The UW System’s Small Business Development Centers helped launch 1,225 businesses in the last five years, according to a release. 

Over the same period, these centers supported 66,737 jobs and helped companies land $405.7 million in loans and investment. 

The system’s SBDC network includes 13 centers across the state, 11 of which are on UW campuses, the release shows. Last year, 2,944 clients consulted with the network. 

At yesterday’s Board of Regents meeting, a panel discussion highlighted impacts of the SBDC program at three universities last year. 

At UW-Oshkosh, the program led to $6.6 million in capital investment, 25 new businesses and 70 new jobs. 

At UW-River Falls, the SBDC helped companies secure $3.5 million in capital. The program helped start 22 new businesses there, and created 48 new jobs. 

And at UW-Whitewater, the program helped companies bring in $13.8 million in investment, and also helped start 13 new businesses, creating 63 new jobs. 

See the release: 


# Wisconsin farmers facing more pests, higher costs after late spring planting

# Quad/Graphics invests in Tim Armstrong’s startup

# Manufacturer hosting President Trump on Friday could be growing

# Wisconsin ratepayers to see refunds thanks to lower energy costs in 2018



– Lafayette Co. raising funds for new fairgrounds


– 53 acres across from Lake Country Lutheran High in Hartland eyed for development


– Wisconsin ranks 15th on CNBC’s Top States for Business list


– Younger Jr. Holstein members honored with YDJM Awards

– Regents unanimously approve UW System budget for 2019-20


– Great Lakes governors, premiers endorse Asian carp plan


– New donut and coffee shop proposed in Whitefish Bay


– These are the biggest second-quarter venture fundings in Wisconsin


– Manpower to offer GED program to 30,000 associates


– Menomonee Falls battery manufacturer to be merged with distributors

– Wisconsin wins Nexus drug manufacturing facility over Illinois


– Embassy Suites in Brookfield sold for $19.2 million

– $3M proposed to rebuild Second Street around MSO theater restoration


– Wisconsin included in FSA crop acreage reporting extension


– Walmart completes renovations at Mukwonago, Pewaukee stores


– Giannis Antetokounmpo files lawsuit to stop ‘infringing’ t-shirts


– Airbnb, LULAC join to promote Latinx hosts for DNC 2020


– David Ahrens: It’s time for Madison to give up on the hotel dream for Judge Doyle Square

– Ron Malzer: Burning coal while the skies are crying


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Greater Whitewater Committee, Inc.: UW-Whitewater named most affordable college in Wisconsin

Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport: Passenger traffic continues to climb in 2019

Door County Economic Development Corporation: New ownership for Fish Creek Scenic Boat Tours

Marquette University: Marquette’s Tom Teipel receives Excellence in University Service Award