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Wisconsin Energy Corp. Message Board

  • jerrykrause jerrykrause Aug 6, 2014 4:56 PM Flag

    Peoples Energy buyer offers rate freeze, jobs pledge to Chicago

    From Crain's Chicago Business
    Peoples Energy buyer offers rate freeze, jobs pledge to Chicago
    By Steven R. Strahler

    Wisconsin Energy Corp. promised today to freeze Chicago customer rates for two years and keep nearly 2,000 jobs here as part of its planned acquisition of the parent of Peoples Energy Corp. and North Shore Gas.

    The guarantee, disclosed in a filing today with the Illinois Commerce Commission seeking approval of a deal with Integrys Energy Group Inc., followed pressure from consumer advocates and politicians like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

    Wisconsin Energy also said it would continue gas-line and other infrastructure improvements underway by Peoples and “share the warmth” assistance to impoverished customers.

    However, a proposed rate increase filed with the ICC last February will remain pending, according to an Integrys spokeswoman. It calls for a maximum $5 monthly increase for a typical Peoples customer and $2.50 for a North Shore Gas user, she said. A ruling is expected by early next year.

    Wisconsin Energy in the filing said it had gained a “greater perspective on the needs of the customers and communities serviced by Peoples Gas and North Gas” after meetings with the ICC, the Illinois attorney general's office and the Chicago mayor's office.

    'SHAREHOLDER BENEFITS'

    In an Aug. 1 letter to Wisconsin Energy CEO Gale Klappa, Mr. Emanuel said Mr. Klappa, in touting cost savings and increased dividends among “shareholder benefits” of the merger, left out what was in it for Chicago ratepayers.

    Citing a 65 percent rate increase for Peoples customers since 2007, he asked that some merger savings be applied to lowering rates, guaranteeing jobs and funding infrastructure improvements and low-income subsidies.
    The letter followed a July 7 meeting between the two. After the letter was sent, mayoral aides met this week with Wisconsin Energy representatives, according to a spokeswoman for the mayor's office.

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    • Part II

      In its filing, Wisconsin Energy also sought approval to form a new holding company called WEC Energy Group that would include the acquired companies.

      Wisconsin Energy said the deal, if approved, would deliver economies of scale, operating efficiencies and a "larger and stronger financial platform for making investments to maintain safety and improve reliability and customer service."

 
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