Wisconsin Energy spikes planned UP power plant sale

Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Energy Corp. and subsidiary Wisconsin Electric Power Co. have decided not to sell their Presque Isle Power Plant and Michigan electric distribution assets to Green Bay-based Upper Peninsula Power Co. as planned.

Wisconsin Energy agreed in January to sell the plant and distribution rights to gain approval from Michigan stakeholders for its plan to acquire Chicago-based Integrys Energy Group for $9.1 billion. The agreement was made with the Michigan governor, the Michigan attorney general, the staff of the Michigan Public Service Commission and the Tilden Mining Company and Iron Mining Partnership “to resolve all objections these parties raised at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the MPSC” to the acquisition.

But in a filing March 12, Wisconsin Energy said it would not sell the plant as long as both iron ore mines remain customers of Wisconsin Electric, until either a new clean generation plan in the UP begins operations or until December 31, 2019. The company entered into a special contract with the mines to provide them with service through 2019.

The Michigan stakeholders agreed that the new plan satisfies applicable requirements under Michigan law, and should be approved by the MPSC.

The sale of the Presque Isle plant would have created a standalone electric utility in the Upper Peninsula, allowing Michigan to plan for longer-term power generation options in that area of the state. Under the new agreement, Wisconsin Energy has committed to invest or have a separate Michigan utility it creates invest in the new clean generation plant in the UP.

Wisconsin Energy’s proposed merger with Integrys would serve more than 4.3 million electric and natural gas customers in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota. It also would operate almost 71,000 miles of power lines and natural gas lines. If approved by regulators, it is expected to close in the second half of the year.

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