| Mike Peters, President and CEO
At WPPI Energy’s annual meeting in September, Board Chair Jeff Feldt and I reported to member utilities on the state of our joint-action agency. The following is an overview of those remarks.
The state of WPPI Energy is strong. From building a reliable, diverse power supply and an effective voice for advocacy to creating comprehensive, best-in-class services, our member utilities have always done their best work together. This remains true today.
Our member-driven model is our biggest strength. This past year, all 51 WPPI Energy members helped shape the objectives for the current five-year business plan that directs our day-to-day efforts. Active member engagement ensures that we remain on the right track to serve our members and their communities well.
Members created WPPI Energy more than 35 years ago for the purpose of supplying wholesale electric power that is cost-effective, reliable and responsible; this remains our core business priority. We are positioned well in this regard, with a diverse and cost-competitive power supply mix. We have space for additional generation resources in the next few years, giving us flexibility to rely on cost-effective market power or to consider new resource opportunities that are projected to lower our costs over the long term.
Renewable energy proved to be the most cost-effective option when we added two new resources this year: the 99-megawatt (MW) Point Beach Solar Energy Center, which, when it comes online in 2021, will be Wisconsin’s largest solar energy facility; and the 132-MW Bishop Hill III Wind Energy Center, which, when it begins operating next year, will more than double our membership’s wind energy resources.
We know that competitive costs are a key priority for WPPI Energy members, and we have held our average wholesale power supply costs to members steady over the past five years. In fact, our costs in 2016 were the lowest since 2011. Going forward, we anticipate modest annual increases over the next few years.
We also know competitiveness isn’t all our members expect. Customers of all types are increasingly seeking to engage with their utilities online to track their usage, pay bills, schedule service, sign up for programs and more. Together through WPPI Energy, our member utilities have access to cost-effective shared technology systems, professional expertise, staff training and programs to support these needs. Our business strategy includes furthering these offerings to ensure that our membership can continue serving customers well as utilities of the future.
Today’s utility industry, the technologies we use and the expectations of those we serve are evolving. The member utilities of WPPI Energy are strong and well-positioned to take on this changing world together. Now and in the future, we will succeed as we always have – by doing more together.