MILWAUKEE, July 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The board of directors of Wisconsin Energy Corporation (NYSE: WEC) announced today that it has decided to accelerate to the second half of 2013 the dividend action that was planned for the first quarter of 2014. As a result, the directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of 38.25 cents a share on the company's common stock. This represents an increase of 4.25 cents a share in the quarterly dividend and raises the annual rate from $1.36 a share to $1.53 a share. The dividend is payable Sept. 1, 2013, to stockholders of record on Aug. 14, 2013. This marks the 284 th consecutive quarter—dating back to 1942—that the company will have paid a dividend to its stockholders. "Today's action by our board of directors is underscored by the company's sound financial position and positive free cash flow," said Gale Klappa, chairman, president and chief executive officer. "This marks yet another positive step toward making our dividend payout more competitive with our peers across the utility industry." The board also reaffirmed a policy that targets a dividend payout ratio trending to 65-70 percent of earnings in 2017. "This policy is consistent with our key financial goals: to maintain strong 'A' category credit ratings at our utilities and fund new investment opportunities without issuing additional shares of common stock," Klappa said. The Wisconsin Electric board of directors today declared a quarterly dividend of 90 cents a share on the Preferred Stock, 3.60% Series, payable Sept. 1, 2013, to stockholders of record on Aug. 14, 2013. The board also declared a quarterly dividend of $1.50 a share on the Six Per Cent Preferred Stock payable Oct. 31, 2013, to stockholders of record on Oct. 11, 2013. Wisconsin Energy Corporation (NYSE: WEC), based in Milwaukee, is one of the nation's premier energy companies, serving more than 1.1 million electric customers in Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula and 1.1 million natural gas customers in Wisconsin. The company's principal utility is We Energies. The company's other major subsidiary, We Power, designs, builds and owns electric generating plants.