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Klappa Cites Milestones In Customer Satisfaction, Employee Safety, Reliability In Annual Meeting Review Of 2012 Highlights

ROTHSCHILD, Wis., May 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- At Wisconsin Energy's (NYSE: WEC) annual meeting of stockholders, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Gale Klappa described 2012 as a remarkable year with milestones in customer satisfaction, employee safety, and network reliability.

Klappa cited the following 2012 highlights:

Customer satisfaction

  • For the fourth quarter of 2012, 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 eighth time in the past 11 years by an independent consulting firm.

Company performance

  • Best overall safety results in company history.  An improvement of nearly 75 percent since 2003 in both recordable incidents and lost-time accidents.
  • Named for the sixth 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.

Earnings and financial strength

  • The highest net income in company history.
  • Earnings from continuing operations of $2.35 per share – a 7.8 percent increase over the $2.18 per share recorded in 2011.
  • Through the end of 2012, repurchased nearly $152 million of Wisconsin Energy stock at an average price of $32.63 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 63 percent over three years, 76.2 percent over five years, 129.5 percent over seven years, and 285.2 percent over 10 years.

Dividend increase

  • Raised the dividend by 13.3 percent in January 2013, to an annual rate of $1.36 per share.
  • Klappa said the goal is to increase the company's dividend payout to 65 to 70 percent of earnings in 2017 – a level more competitive with other regulated energy companies.  This policy should support a double-digit increase in the dividend in 2014 and 7 to 8 percent growth in the years 2015 through 2017.

Infrastructure improvements

  • Completed the air quality control upgrades for the four older units at the Oak Creek Power Plant site on time and on budget.  At just under $900 million, this was the second largest construction project in company history.
  • Between 2000 and 2013, power plant capacity increased by 50 percent, while systemwide emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury, and particulate matter decreased by 80 percent.
  • The 50-megawatt biomass cogeneration plant being constructed in Rothschild is nearly 80 percent complete and targeted for completion by the end of 2013.

Next steps

Klappa outlined the company's next important initiative that calls for an investment of $3.2 to $3.5 billion from 2013 through 2017 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 actions

During the meeting, stockholders elected the following directors to terms expiring at the 2014 annual meeting: John F. Bergstrom, Barbara L. Bowles, Patricia W. Chadwick, Curt S. Culver, Thomas J. Fischer, Gale E. Klappa, Henry W. Knueppel, Ulice Payne, Jr., and Mary Ellen Stanek

As recommended by the board of directors, stockholders also voted to:

  • Ratify Deloitte & Touche LLP as independent auditors for 2013.
  • Approve the compensation of the company's named executive officers (say-on-pay).

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

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