WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis., May 12, 2005 (PRNewswire-FirstCall) — Officials of Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, a subsidiary of WPS Resources Corporation have agreed to purchase a majority of the electric distribution assets of Consolidated Water Power Company (CWPCo), a subsidiary of Stora Enso. CWPCo will retain ownership of a portion of the distribution system. The sale does not include any of the dams or hydrogeneration facilities on the Wisconsin River.
“CWPCo recognized that the system is now at an age where an additional investment would be required to maintain reliability for customers and provide necessary upgrades. CWPCo would have to increase rates to accomplish this. We believe that Wisconsin Public Service is in a much better position to cost- effectively provide for upgrades and meet customer needs,” said CWPCo President Tom Scharff.
“Costs to operate the distribution system are higher than the current rates cover,” Scharff explained. “CWPCo has not raised its retail electric rates since 1987. Increased costs of operating and maintaining the distribution system were subsidized by the parent company. In today’s increasingly competitive environment, the company can no longer afford that approach.”
“We’re pleased to acquire this electric business,” said Al Herrman, manager-wholesale services for Wisconsin Public Service. “We’re already providing many services to CWPCo such as billing and meter reading, and our service territory abuts the Biron area. This purchase will allow us to serve about 1,150 new customers. It makes sense. We’re focused on providing good, quality service and reliability for our customers.”
Herrman said the company was sensitive to former CWPCo customers who would see significant increases to their electricity rates. “We’ll do what we can to ease the transition for these folks,” said Herrman. “We know that they have enjoyed quite a break for the past 20-odd years. We will attempt to lessen the rate impact by requesting to phase-in rate increases in the future.”
Public Service and CWPCo will hold public informational meetings in the area to explain the transaction and the transition for customers. Meeting details:
When: Monday, May 23, 2005
Time: 2:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Where: Biron Village Hall, 451 Kahoun Road, Biron, Wisconsin
The transaction is subject to normal regulatory approvals, including the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. The companies expect final approval of the proposed sale in late 2005.
About Consolidated Water Power Company
Consolidated Water Power Company, a subsidiary of Stora Enso North America, operates five dams on the Wisconsin River, from the DuBay Flowage in Marathon County, to the Wisconsin Rapids dam in Wood County. It supplies hydroelectric power to operations at Stora Enso North America and a limited number of customers in the central Wisconsin area.
Stora Enso North America is a leading North American manufacturer of papers for the printing industry. It has papermaking operations in Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, Whiting, Kimberly, Niagara and Biron, Wisconsin; Duluth, Minnesota; and Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, Canada.
About Wisconsin Public Service Corporation
Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of WPS Resources Corporation, is an investor-owned electric and natural gas utility headquartered in Green Bay, Wisconsin. It serves approximately 420,000 electric customers and 309,000 retail natural gas customers in residential, agricultural, industrial and commercial markets, as well as wholesale customers. The company’s service area includes northeastern and central Wisconsin, as well as an adjacent portion of Upper Michigan.