Wisconsin Energy Corporation's CEO Presents At 2012 Barclays Energy/Power Conference (Transcript)

Wisconsin Energy Corporation (WEC)

Presentation at 2012 Barclays Energy/Power Conference

September 5, 2012 3:05 p.m. ET


Gale Klappa - Chairman, President, and CEO



Gale Klappa

Thank you very much. Good afternoon everybody. Since I’m one of the last things standing between you and the margaritas, we’ll try to be crisp, and then answer any questions you’ve got. And obviously we pay our lawyers by the word.

Just to briefly refamiliarize you, we are the largest gas and electric utility system in the state of Wisconsin. We also serve in the upper peninsula of Michigan. 1.1 million electric customer, over a million natural gas customers. We touch about one out of every two customers in the state of Wisconsin.

A little bit of history on performance. We’ve been very fortunate in that we’ve established a pretty solid track record of performance. In fact, if you look back to the year 2003, we are the only company in the S&P Electric Index, the S&P Utilities Index, the Philadelphia Utility Index, or the Dow Utility Index, the only company, that has been able to grow earnings per share and dividends per share each year since 2003.

Now, I have a question for you straight off the campaign trail. Are you better off than you were three, five, seven, or ten years ago? And if you’re a Wisconsin Energy Customer, or if you were heavily weighted in Wisconsin Energy stock, the answer is decidedly yes. So for my own amusement, if not yours, we’ll walk through the three, five, seven, and ten year return numbers.

As you can see, if you look at all the major averages, pretty reasonable if modest returns over the course of the past three years through the end of 2011, but on a total shareholder return basis, over the last three years, ending 2011, Wisconsin Energy delivered a little better than an 83% total return.

Five years? Similar story. Even smaller returns. Of course we went through the great recession in that five-year period. So even smaller returns on the major indices. And just under a 70% total shareholder return for Wisconsin Energy.

Seven years? Very strong differential, with Wisconsin Energy returning 150% in total shareholder return over the past seven years. And then just in case you wanted to see the 10-year numbers, a 308% total shareholder return.

So, a reasonably solid track record of performance. Some of that track record of performance is due to the fact that we have improved the reliability of our service in our region. As many of you know, there’s a virtual cycle of customer satisfaction in a regulated industry and shareholder returns over time. And I’m really proud to be able to tell you that last year, for the seventh time in the past 10 years, our company was named the most reliable utility in the Midwest.

Our customer satisfaction numbers have had a dramatic upward improvement over the course of the past decade. In fact, in the second quarter of this year we achieved the highest customer satisfaction in the history of the company since we began measuring decades ago. Just to put the numbers in perspective, 88% in the second quarter of this year, 88.9% of our customers said they were very satisfied with the transaction. That’s any interaction they’ve had with the company. And almost 80% of our customers said that they were very satisfied with the company itself. Those are top quartile numbers, no matter how you cut it.

We, of course, have just completed the major infrastructure megaprojects that we’ve had underway since 2003. The first of those projects involved the completion of two very efficient next generation fired combined cycle units in Port Washington, which is a city north of Milwaukee.

And I’d like to call your attention to the bottom line on the slide, the cost per unit of capacity. We were able to complete the Port Washington units - and again, these are among the most efficient natural gas units in the Midwest and anywhere in the country - for $609 per unit of capacity. If you were to try to build comparable combined cycle units today, the cost would likely be in excess of $1,000 per unit of capacity. So these units will serve our customers very, very well and help us remain price competitive for decades to come.

And the same story with our major coal-fired units. We completed the first of the major units at Oak Creek in February of 2010. Unit two at Oak Creek was completed in January of 2011. This is, in total, a $2.3 billion project and we were able to bring these units in for just at $1,950 per unit of capacity.

If you look at other coal-fired units that are being completed around the country today - and a good example would be the Duke unit at Cliffside in North Carolina - using an exactly comparable technology, they are bringing that unit in for $3,000 per unit of capacity. So we’re very pleased with not only the efficiency of these units. These coal-fired units are among the three most efficient coal-fired units anywhere in the United States. But also, the price that we were able to complete these construction projects for.

There has been, as a result of the modern, new efficient capacity that we’ve put in place, a dramatic change in our environmental performance. And the slide really tells it all. We have added 50% to our power plant capacity of our fleet. And at the same time, emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and mercury are down 70%. We do not face any significant exposure to the new environmental rules that the EPA is now trying to mandate.

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