WEC Energy Group Inc

InfluenceMap Score
D-
Performance Band
44%
Organisation Score
39%
Relationship Score
Sector:
Utilities
Head​quarters:
Milwaukee, United States
Official Web Site:
Wikipedia:

Climate Lobbying Overview: WEC Energy Group (WEC) appears to engage with mostly negative positions on U.S. climate change policy, including on the state-level in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. WEC leadership has frequently advocated for preserving the role of fossil fuels, especially fossil gas, in the energy mix. The utility’s support for gas ban preemption legislation reflects its Board-level membership to the American Gas Association (AGA), which engages negatively on climate policy and has led a campaign to preempt state-level electrification mandates since 2019.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: WEC has minimal top-line messaging on climate policy. While the company uses IPCC pathways and the Paris Agreement in its 2021 Climate Report as benchmarks for its own operational plans and emissions reductions targets, it does not clearly advocate in favor of economy-wide emissions reductions or the Paris Agreement itself. WEC also does not appear to explicitly support the need for government regulation to respond to climate change, only acknowledging the risk of regulation to its business in the “Risks and Opportunities” section of its 2021 Climate Report.

Engagement with Climate-Related Policy: WEC demonstrates mixed engagement with U.S. climate-related policies. During the company’s August 2022 earnings call, WEC appeared to support the Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy tax credits. Speaking to investors in November 2021, the utility's executive chairman Gale Klappa stated that he expected the renewable energy tax credits in the Build Back Better Act to be successful, but did not offer a clear position on the legislation. WEC’s recent federal lobbying reports indicate that the company has been engaging directly with policymakers on clean energy tax incentives, however the reports, including for Q1 2022, do not disclose a clear position. In July 2022 statements to the Wisconsin State Journal, WEC did not offer a clear position on the West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruling, which limits the agency’s ability to set ambitious GHG emissions standards. Previously, in 2018 comments to the EPA, WEC appeared to advocate for a weaker Affordable Clean Energy rule, calling either for the rule to apply only to coal-fueled generating units or, alternatively, exemptions for coal-fueled units that were refueled to fossil gas prior to September 2018.

WEC appears to engage with mostly negative positions on state-level renewable energy policy. According to its Wisconsin state lobbying disclosures, the utility opposed Senate Bill 490 and Assembly Bill 527 on establishing community solar programs in August 2021 and September 2021, respectively. As reported by the Wisconsin State Journal in 2021, WEC has been blocking third-party distributed solar deals in Wisconsin since 2018 in favor of its own rooftop solar program. In Illinois, the company registered as a witness in March 2021 against the Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2021, which includes GHG emissions caps, renewable energy credits, and energy efficiency provisions. In its 2020 Corporate Responsibility report, WEC lists several pieces of Minnesota state energy efficiency legislation that it is monitoring, including the Energy Conservation and Optimization (ECO) Act of 2020, without specifying its position.

Positioning on Energy Transition: WEC demonstrates negative positions on the energy transition, with Executive Chairman and former CEO Gale Klappa in particular advocating for the long-term role of fossil fuels in the U.S. energy mix. Regarding federal policy, in a July 2022 interview with Annex Wealth Management, Klappa cited the crisis in Ukraine to justify maintaining a diverse domestic energy supply that includes coal and fossil gas. Earlier in May 2022, subsidiaries North Shore Gas and Peoples Gas signed an AGA joint letter to the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development which advocated for increased research and development funding toward fossil gas.

WEC takes similarly negative positions on state-level energy policy. During a May 2022 earnings call, Klappa indicated that WEC was directly engaging with Wisconsin policymakers to support the long-term role of fossil gas in state decarbonization planning. According to its Wisconsin state lobbying reports, WEC has been directly advocating to policymakers to support gas ban preemption proposals during the 2022 legislation session: the company disclosed support for Senate Bill 1037 in March 2022 and LRB-5899-1 in February 2022, both of which aim to prohibit any limit on fuel choice. This engagement echoes Klappa’s earlier statements during a February 2021 earnings call, in which he appeared to support gas ban preemption legislation. WEC has engaged with negative positions in other states: WEC lists its opposition to the 2020 and 2021 versions of the Minnesota Clean Energy First Act, which would require utilities to prioritize clean energy resources in meeting energy demands.

Industry Association Governance: WEC provides a list of industry associations to which it pays membership dues without providing details on the climate positions of these associations or its engagement with them on climate policy. The company has not published a review of its alignment with its industry associations on climate change. WEC is a member of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and serves on the Board of Directors for the American Gas Association (AGA). EEI demonstrates mixed positions on U.S. climate policy, e.g. supporting the Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy tax credits while previously lobbying to amend the Build Back Better Act’s proposed Clean Electricity Performance Program. AGA maintains a broadly negative stance toward climate policies, including opposing Build Back Better’s proposed methane fee and leading a campaign since 2019 to introduce gas ban preemption legislation at the state level.

InfluenceMap collects and assesses evidence of corporate climate policy engagement on a weekly basis, depending on the availability of information from each specific data source (for more information see our methodology). While this analysis flows through to the company’s scores each week, the summary above is updated periodically. This summary was last updated in Q3 2022.

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Strength of Relationship
STRONG
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
WEAK
 
28%
 
28%
 
57%
 
57%

How to Read our Relationship Score Map

In this section, we depict graphically the relationships the corporation has with trade associations, federations, advocacy groups and other third parties who may be acting on their behalf to influence climate change policy. Each of the columns above represents one relationship the corporation appears to have with such a third party. In these columns, the top, dark section represents the strength of the relationship the corporation has with the influencer. For example if a corporation's senior executive also held a key role in the trade association, we would deem this to be a strong relationship and it would be on the far left of the chart above, with the weaker ones to the right. Click on these grey shaded upper sections for details of these relationships. The middle section contains a link to the organization score details of the influencer concerned, so you can see the details of its climate change policy influence. Click on the middle sections for for details of the trade associations. The lower section contains the organization score of that influencer, the lower the more negatively it is influencing climate policy.