Wisconsin Energy caps ‘exceptional’ year

Wisconsin Energy Corp. today reported fourth quarter net income of $98.8 million, or 43 cents per share, down from $116.0 million, or 50 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

The Milwaukee-based parent company of Wisconsin Energy reported flat quarterly operating revenues of $1.1 billion.

The company’s net income from continuing operations for the full year totaled $546.3 million, or $2.35 per share, up from $512.8 million, or $2.18 a share, in 2011.

Major factors contributing to the year’s strong performance include lower operation and maintenance expenses, favorable summer weather, and positive recovery of fuel costs.

For the year, consumption of electricity by small commercial and industrial customers rose by 0.7 percent. Residential electricity use grew by 0.5 percent.

Compared to 2011, electricity use by large commercial and industrial customers dropped by 2.8 percent. The decline was driven primarily by a planned outage at a major iron ore mine. The mine returned to normal operation in September.

“Overall, sales to our large commercial and industrial customers came in better than forecast,” said Gale Klappa, chairman, president, and chief executive of Wisconsin Energy. “Based on customer input, we had expected a decline in sales. As the year progressed, however, we saw strength in several sectors — including food products, chemical manufacturing, metal fabrication and plastics.”

During the year, customer growth continued at a modest pace. At the end of December, the company was serving 3,200 more electric customers and 5,800 more natural gas customers than the previous year.

“By virtually every meaningful measure, 2012 was an exceptional year for Wisconsin Energy,” Klappa said. “We achieved milestones in customer satisfaction, employee safety and network reliability. We delivered solid earnings growth and made significant progress toward a dividend payout that is more competitive with our peers.”

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