We Energies CEO Sees Investment Opportunity in State-Owned Plants

Friday, September 07, 2012

An excerpt of an article from energy writer Thomas Content in the Journal Sentinel.

Acquiring some of Wisconsin's state-owned heating plants could be a "significant investment opportunity" for We Energies, the utility's top executive said.

We Energies CEO Gale Klappa discussed the utility's interest in buying the state facilities during a presentation to Wall Street analysts in New York City this week.

He also discussed the company's transition away from massive engineering and building projects such as new power plants and environmental control systems toward a lower-risk strategy centered on renewing the company's aging utility poles, transformers and natural gas pipelines.

The final "megaproject" is about to be completed, he said. The addition of pollution controls is nearly finished at the original Oak Creek power plant, at a cost of nearly $900 million.

It's the second-biggest project in the company's history, after the construction of the new coal plant in Oak Creek, just to the south of the original plant.

Looking ahead, Klappa said, the utility is considering the purchase of state-owned heating and cooling plants, some of which are under pressure to reduce pollution linked to burning coal.

"That could be a significant investment opportunity for us, and a significant (additional) investment opportunity because of the modern environmental controls, or the conversion from coal to natural gas that would be necessary," Klappa said.