WEC Energy profit up on higher electricity usage

Milwaukee utility company misses revenue projections

WEC Energy Group headquarters building
WEC Energy Group's Milwaukee corporate headquarters.

Milwaukee-based WEC Energy Group Inc. today reported electricity usage was higher for residential, retail and small commercial customers in 2016.

WEC Energy Group headquarters building
WEC Energy Group’s Milwaukee corporate headquarters.

Last year, retail users, excluding the iron ore mines of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, used 2 percent more electricity than in 2015. Residential customer usage was up 4.1 percent. And small commercial and industrial customers upped electricity consumption by 2.3 percent year-over-year.

On the other hand, large commercial and industrial customers used the same amount of electricity as in 2015.

WEC’s fourth-quarter net income totaled $194.7 million, or 61 cents per diluted share, up from $179.9 million, or 57 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2015. The increase was in part due to the higher electricity usage.

When Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Energy Corp. acquired Chicago-based Integrys Energy Group for $9.1 billion on June 29, 2015, it formed WEC Energy Group. The Q4 2015 profits included acquisition costs of 5 cents per share. Adjusted to exclude those costs, fourth-quarter 2015 earnings would have been 62 cents per share.

Operating income was $361.7 million in the fourth quarter, down from $380.2 million in the same period a year ago.

Fourth-quarter revenue totaled $2 billion, up from $1.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015. Still, it missed the Seeking Alpha analyst consensus prediction by $950 million.

For the full year, WEC reported net income of $940.2 million, or $2.96 per diluted share, up from $640.3 million, or $2.34 per share, in 2015.

Operating income was $1.7 billion in 2016, up from $1.3 billion in the prior year.

WEC’s 2016 revenue totaled $7.5 billion, up from $6 billion in 2015.

“Our 2016 results reflect the positive impact from the Integrys acquisition,” said Allen Leverett, president and chief executive officer. “Along with contributing to our strong financial performance, our employees helped lead the way as the company achieved successes in customer satisfaction, safety and network reliability.”

WEC Energy Group provides electricity and natural gas services to about 35,000 customers in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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