MILWAUKEE, Dec. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The board of directors of WEC Energy Group (NYSE: WEC) today announced that it is planning to raise the quarterly dividend on the company's common stock to 52 cents per share in the first quarter of 2017. This would represent an increase of 2.5 cents per share or 5.1 percent over the current quarterly rate. The directors expect to declare the new dividend at their regularly scheduled meeting in January. The dividend - which would be equivalent to an annual rate of $2.08 per share - is expected to be payable March 1, 2017, to stockholders of record on Feb. 14, 2017. "The board's action today is consistent with our objective to target a dividend payout ratio of 65 to 70 percent of earnings, a policy in line with our peers across the utility industry," said Allen Leverett, president and chief executive officer. Earnings in 2017 are expected to be in a range of $3.06 to $3.12 per share. This is consistent with the company objective to grow earnings per share at a 5 to 7 percent compound annual growth rate off a 2015 base of $2.72. WEC Energy Group (NYSE: WEC), based in Milwaukee, is one of the nation's premier energy companies, serving 4.4 million customers in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota. The company's principal utilities are We Energies, Wisconsin Public Service, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas, Michigan Gas Utilities, and Minnesota Energy Resources. The company's other major subsidiary, We Power, designs, builds and owns electric generating plants. WEC Energy Group (wecenergygroup.com), a component of the S&P 500, has approximately $29 billion of assets, 8,500 employees and 55,000 stockholders of record.Forward-looking Statements Certain statements contained in this press release are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These statements are based upon management's current expectations and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in the statements. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these statements. Forward-looking statements include, among other things, statements concerning management's expectations and projections regarding earnings, dividend payments and other matters. In some cases, forward-looking statements may be identified by reference to a future period or periods or by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "anticipates", "believes", "estimates", "expects", "forecasts", "guidance", "intends", "may", "objectives", "plans", "possible", "potential", "projects", "should", "targets", "will" or similar terms or variations of these terms.