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Leverett cites milestones in customer satisfaction, reliability, safety performance at annual meeting

MILWAUKEE, May 5, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- At the WEC Energy Group's (NYSE: WEC) annual meeting of stockholders today, President and Chief Executive Officer Allen Leverett highlighted 2015 accomplishments and milestones, including the successful acquisition of Integrys Energy.

Leverett cited the following 2015 highlights:

Customer satisfaction

  • We Energies was ranked in the top quartile in the Midwest for customer service, as well as power quality, in the J.D. Power and Associates 2015 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study.
  • Wisconsin Public Service ranked number two in the Midwest for overall customer satisfaction in the J. D. Power and Associates 2015 Electric Business Customer Satisfaction Study.
  • We Energies was named the most reliable utility in the Midwest for the fifth year in a row by an independent consulting firm.

Safety and diversity

  • Achieved the safest year of operation in the history of the legacy Wisconsin Energy companies – an improvement of more than 85 percent in recordable incidents and lost-time accidents since 2003.
  • For the seventh consecutive year, the company's leadership team was more diverse than the workforce demographics of our service area.

Financial strength and shareholder return

  • The highest net income and earnings per share in company history.
  • WEC Energy's total 2015 return to shareholders outperformed the S&P Electric Index and the Philadelphia Utility Index in 2015 as well as over the past 10 years.
  • Through dividend payouts, the company returned more than $455 million of cash to the legacy Wisconsin Energy shareholders last year – more than any other year in our history.

Dividend growth

  • Raised the dividend 17.3 percent in 2015 and by an additional 8.2 percent in January.
  • The annual rate is now $1.98 per share.
  • The company expects to grow the dividend in line with earnings growth.

Infrastructure improvements

  • The company's projected average annual investment of between $250 million to $280 million in the Peoples Gas Accelerated Main Replacement Program to modernize the natural gas infrastructure in Chicago.
  • Between 2000 and 2015, the company has dropped its carbon intensity systemwide nearly 25 percent.
  • Construction of the new powerhouse for the company's Twin Falls hydroelectric plant on the Menominee River between Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula is on target for completion in the summer of 2016. The new powerhouse will increase the plant capacity by 50 percent.

Stockholder actions

During the meeting, stockholders elected the following directors to terms expiring at the 2017 annual meeting:  John F. Bergstrom, Barbara L. Bowles, William J. Brodsky, Albert J. Budney, Jr., Patricia W. Chadwick, Curt S. Culver, Thomas J. Fischer, Paul W. Jones, Gale E. Klappa, Henry W. Knueppel, Allen L. Leverett, Ulice Payne, Jr., and Mary Ellen Stanek

Stockholders also voted to:

  • Ratify Deloitte & Touche LLP as independent auditors for 2016.
  • Approve the compensation of the company's named executive officers (say-on-pay).
  • Approve shareholder proposal to adopt a "proxy access" bylaw.

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 future dividend payout ratios and dividend payments, construction costs and capital expenditures, and investments in infrastructure projects. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on this information. It is not a guarantee of future performance and actual results may differ materially. Factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially include: general economic conditions, including business and competitive conditions in the company's service territories; timing, resolution and impact of rate cases and other regulatory decisions; the company's ability to successfully integrate the operations of the Integrys companies with its own operations; availability of the company's generating facilities and/or distribution systems; unanticipated changes in fuel and purchased power costs; varying weather conditions; key personnel changes; construction risks; current and future litigation, regulatory investigations, proceedings or inquiries; continued industry consolidation; energy conservation efforts and continued adoption of distributed generation by the company's customers; equity and bond market fluctuations and our ability to access the capital markets; cyber-security threats and disruptions to the company's technology network; impact of any legislative and regulatory changes; and other factors described in WEC Energy Group's 2015 Annual Report on Form 10-K and in subsequent reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company expressly disclaims any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

 

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SOURCE WEC Energy Group

Brian Manthey (news media), 414-221-4444, brian.manthey@we-energies.com, or Colleen F. Henderson, CFA (investment community), 414-221-2592, colleen.henderson@wisconsinenergy.com