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Klappa Cites Completion Of Power The Future Plan, Customer Satisfaction, Stronger Earnings And Total Shareholder Return In Annual Meeting Review Of 2011 Highlights

MILWAUKEE, May 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- At Wisconsin Energy's (NYSE: WEC) annual meeting of stockholders held today at Concordia University Wisconsin, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Gale Klappa described the successful completion of the company's Power the Future plan and called 2011 a year of exceptional progress.

Klappa cited the following 2011 highlights:

Earnings and financial strength
  • The highest net income in company history.
  • Earnings from continuing operations of $2.18 per share – a 13.5 percent increase over the $1.92 per share recorded in 2010. (Earnings reflect the two-for-one stock split in March 2011.)
  • Retired $450 million of long-term debt.
  • Repurchased $100 million of Wisconsin Energy stock at an average price of $30.79 a share.

Shareholder return
  • Wisconsin Energy's total return to shareholders has significantly outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, NASDAQ, the S&P Electric Index and the Philadelphia Utility Index over the past 10 years. Wisconsin Energy's total shareholder return, assuming reinvested dividends, was 83.3 percent over three years, 69.7 percent over five years, 150.2 percent over seven years and 308.4 percent over 10 years.

Dividend increase
  • Raised the dividend by 15 percent in January 2012, to an annual rate of $1.20 per share.
  • By 2014, Klappa said, the goal is to increase the company's dividend payout to 60 percent of earnings – a level more competitive with other regulated energy companies. This policy should support double digit increases in the dividend in   2013 and 2014.

Power the Future
  • The largest construction program in state history is now complete – bringing four major new generating units online between 2001 and 2011.
  • The second 615-megawatt unit at the company's Oak Creek expansion achieved commercial operation on Jan. 12, 2011.
  • Between 2000 and 2013, power plant capacity will increase by 50 percent, while systemwide emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury are expected to decrease by 70 percent.
  • The Glacier Hills Wind Park achieved commercial operation on Dec. 20, 2011, making it Wisconsin's largest wind farm.

Customer satisfaction
  • For the fourth quarter of 2011, the company achieved the best customer satisfaction ratings since the merger of Wisconsin Electric and Wisconsin Gas in 2000.
  • We Energies was named the most reliable utility in the Midwest for the seventh time in the past 10 years by an independent consulting firm.

Company performance
  • Best overall safety results in company history. An improvement of more than 66 percent since 2003 in both recordable incidents and lost-time accidents.
  • Rated a perfect '10' by Governance Metrics International (GMI) 28 out of the past 29 times for the company's governance practices. Wisconsin Energy is the only company, out of more than 4,000 companies rated worldwide, to consistently earn this distinction from GMI, an independent rating agency.
  • Named for the fifth year in a row as one of the nation's best corporate citizens by Corporate Responsibility Magazine. The publication evaluates approximately 1,000 publicly held companies on the basis of environmental performance, employee relations, philanthropy, finance and governance practices.

Next stepsWith Power the Future complete, Klappa outlined the company's next important initiative. The effort calls for an investment of up to $3.5 billion from 2012 through 2016 to modernize the company's distribution networks for electricity and natural gas, meet changing environmental standards and add clean, renewable energy to its generation fleet.

Stockholder actionsDuring the meeting, stockholders re-elected the following directors to terms expiring at the 2013 annual meeting: 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 Mary Ellen Stanek

As recommended by the board of directors, stockholders also voted to:
  • Approve changes that will require directors to be elected by majority vote in uncontested elections.
  • Ratify Deloitte & Touche LLP as independent auditors for 2012.
  • Approve the compensation of the company's named executive officers as disclosed in the proxy statement (say-on-pay).

Earnings per share listed in this news release are on a fully diluted basis.

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