MGE Energy marks 43 years of consecutive dividend increases
In August, the MGE Energy Board of Directors increased the regular quarterly dividend rate by nearly 5% to $0.3375 per share on the outstanding shares of the company's common stock. This raises the annual dividend rate by 6 cents from $1.29 per share to $1.35 per share.
The dividend is payable Sept. 15, 2018, to shareholders of record Sept. 1, 2018. MGE Energy has paid cash dividends for more than 100 years.
Also in August, MGE Energy reported second quarter earnings of $18.4 million, or 53 cents per share, compared to $15.5 million, or 45 cents per share, for the same period last year. Gas net income increased over the same period in the prior year, largely attributable to increased sales because of colder temperatures in April 2018. In addition, there was an increase in gas retail customers. MGE Energy also experienced higher retail electric sales due to weather conditions.
Shared Solar program expansion
MGE's Shared Solar program began with this 500-kilowatt installation in the City of Middleton.
Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) is seeking to expand its highly successful Shared Solar program. The unique community solar program gives customers the opportunity to support locally generated solar energy.
Customers pay an upfront fee and a fixed rate per kilowatt-hour to participate in the program, which began with a 500-kilowatt array on the roof of the City of Middleton's Municipal Operations Center. The array delivers solar energy to our community grid.
Interested customers may join the waiting list now to be notified of how to enroll in the program's planned expansion. Visit mge.com/sharedsolar to learn more.
MGE proposes electric rate decrease and natural gas rate increase
MGE filed with state regulators in mid-July a rate case settlement agreement that seeks to lower electric rates. The proposal would decrease overall electric rates by 1.94% in 2019. No change is proposed for 2020. The proposal reflects ongoing tax savings from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as well as the addition of cost-effective renewable generation capacity, such as MGE's Saratoga, Iowa, wind farm.
The proposal would increase overall natural gas rates by 1.06% in 2019 and 1.46% in 2020. The proposed increase covers natural gas system infrastructure improvements to ensure the continued reliability and safety of MGE's natural gas system. It also reflects tax savings. If approved, the proposed changes would take effect Jan. 1, 2019.
As part of the agreement, MGE is able to accelerate depreciation of certain assets, including generating units in the Madison area and in Marinette, Wis.; Blount Generating Station in Madison, Wis.; and Unit 1 at Columbia Energy Center near Portage, Wis.
By essentially recovering the costs of these older assets sooner, the company has more flexibility to make new investments in efficient renewable energy and move MGE toward its Energy 2030 goals while mitigating impacts on rates.
Wind farm construction on schedule
Construction of MGE's Saratoga wind farm is underway.
Construction of MGE's 66-megawatt Saratoga wind farm continues in northeast Iowa with delivery of the Vestas wind turbines expected by the end of the summer. Saratoga will host 33 turbines.
Throughout the summer, crews have worked to install roads, pour turbine foundations and build the substation. The wind farm is scheduled to come online by early 2019.
When operational, Saratoga will deliver enough cost-effective clean energy to serve about 47,000 households. The more than $100 million project increases the diversity of MGE's generation mix, advancing our renewable energy and carbon reduction goals.
MGE brings electric bus to Madison
This all-electric bus has a battery range of up to 250 miles.
MGE continues to partner to advance the electrification of transportation throughout the areas we serve.
In June, MGE facilitated a series of events to preview an all-electric bus. Manufactured by Proterra, the bus has zero tailpipe emissions and a range of up to 250 miles.
Proterra will be providing the City of Madison Metro Transit its first three all-electric buses. As part of an ongoing collaboration, MGE and the City of Madison partnered to secure $1.3 million in federal funding for the buses. The City of Madison has a goal to electrify 50% of its bus fleet by 2035.
Transportation accounts for more than 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. MGE is working with residential, commercial and fleet customers, both public and private, to grow the use of electric vehicles to advance shared energy goals, such as reduced carbon emissions, and to enable future market growth.
New charger added to public charging network
MGE's public charging network for electric vehicles continues to expand. In July, a new DC Fast Charger came online, bringing the total number of MGE public charging stations to 30. More charging stations are planned. All of MGE's public charging stations are powered by wind energy. DC Fast Chargers offer 60 to 80 miles of battery range in about 20 minutes.
New resource for entrepreneurs opens in Madison
The entrepreneurial hub known as StartingBlock Madison opened in the city's Capitol East District in late June. The much-anticipated space within the new Spark Building is designed to serve the city's growing entrepreneur and startup communities.
It offers affordable and flexible workspace, business resources and a collaborative atmosphere to foster emerging companies into successful businesses that drive innovation and stimulate the local economy.
MGE is a neighbor of StartingBlock and a partner in efforts to grow and accelerate the region's tech and manufacturing industries. MGE brings resources and expertise to support the area's economic development.
The company's philanthropic arm, the MGE Foundation, contributed to help make StartingBlock a reality.
Gary J. Wolter, Chairman
Jeffrey M. Keebler, President and CEO