Net-Zero Carbon Electricity by 2050
Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) is working toward a more sustainable future for the benefit of all its investors, employees, customers and the broader community. The company is targeting net-zero carbon electricity by 2050.
"In creating an energy future for our customers and shareholders, we need ambitious and crucial reductions in carbon emissions that align with the work of the scientific community, specifically the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its assessment of limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius," MGE Chairman, President and CEO Jeff Keebler said.
Strategies for Deep Decarbonization
MGE already has been on a path toward reduced carbon emissions, having previously established a carbon reduction goal of at least 80% by 2050 from 2005 levels. The U.S. Mid-Century Strategy (MCS) for Deep Decarbonization identifies greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 80% by 2050 (from 2005 levels).
In early 2022, MGE committed to achieving carbon reductions of at least 80% by 2030 from 2005 levels.
The MCS is the United States' strategy for meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change to limit global warming. Both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the MCS rely on decarbonizing electric generation, using energy efficiently, and electrifying other energy uses, including transportation. These are the strategies MGE is pursuing and will continue to pursue to achieve deep decarbonization and net-zero carbon electricity. If we can go further faster by working together with our customers, we will.
See MGE's Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report for additional information.
In November 2015, MGE announced its Energy 2030 framework, which laid out the company's foundational objectives for building your community energy company for the future:
- Provide customers with options they want today and in the future,
- Help customers use energy efficiently and control future costs for all customers,
- Transition MGE to a more environmentally sustainable energy supply,
- Provide a dynamic electric grid that can integrate energy technologies to serve all customers, and
- Ensure that new and changing technology serves all customers equitably.
- Deepen our engagement with the community.
Since introducing Energy 2030 and through year-end 2022, MGE has announced projects that are expected to increase the company's owned renewable capacity by more than nine times when completed. MGE will continue to seize opportunities and take advantage of new, evolving technologies to advance its carbon reduction goals.
MGE is working to achieve a more sustainable energy future using the best, most cost-effective technologies as they become available. MGE already has taken action toward its goals:
Red Barn Wind Farm: In April 2023, the Red Barn Wind Farm in Grant County, Wis., began serving MGE customers with carbon-free electricity. MGE owns a 10% share of the 92-MW facility.
Saratoga Wind Farm: The company built its largest wind farm in Saratoga, Iowa. The 66-MW wind farm became operational in early 2019.
Forward Energy Center Wind Farm: In 2018, the company purchased a share of the Forward Energy Center wind farm. MGE receives approximately 18 MW of the 130 MW of electricity produced by this wind farm annually.
New Solar Projects: In 2023, MGE’s 6-MW Tyto Solar project in Fitchburg, Wis., is expected to come online to serve all MGE electric customers.
MGE also has two large solar projects with WEC Energy Group:
- The Two Creeks Solar project, providing 50 MW, became operational in November 2020.
- Badger Hollow Phase I came online in late 2021; another 50 MW from Phase II is expected online in late 2023 or early 2024.
MGE also is partnering with We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) to purchase shares of the following projects:
- The Paris Solar-Battery Park. MGE will own 20 MW of solar energy and 11 MW of battery storage from this 200-MW solar park, which is under construction in Kenosha County, Wis. MGE's share of the Paris Solar-Battery Park will power about 6,000 households. The project is expected online in 2024.*
- The Darien Solar Energy Center. MGE will own 25 MW of solar energy from the 250-MW solar park being built in the Town of Bradford in Rock County and the Town of Darien in Walworth County. The Darien Solar Energy Center is expected to begin serving customers by the end of 2024.
- The Koshkonong Solar Energy Center. MGE obtained regulatory approval to purchase 30 MW of solar energy from the 300-MW solar storage facility located in the Towns of Christiana and Deerfield in Dane County. The project is expected to be online in 2026.
Community Solar: MGE's unique Shared Solar project in partnership with the City of Middleton, Wis., came online in early 2017. MGE expanded the program in 2020 with a new 6-MW solar installation, Morey Field Solar at Middleton Municipal Airport.
Renewable Energy Rider (RER): Under this program, MGE partners with large customers on customized renewable energy solutions. Dane County and MGE partnered under this program to build a 10-MW solar array on county-owned land at Dane County Regional Airport. MGE owns the solar infrastructure, leases the land from Dane County and sells the energy to Dane County. The array became operational in December 2020.
Two-and-a-half MW of the 6-MW Morey Field Solar project in Middleton serve two RER customers, the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District and the City of Middleton. The array came online in August 2020.
In spring 2021, the 22-MW O'Brien Solar Fields in Fitchburg, Wis., began serving several large customers, including the City of Fitchburg, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Wisconsin Department of Administration and a number of local businesses. The project, built under MGE’s RER program, is currently the largest solar project in Dane County.
The 8-MW Hermsdorf Solar Fields project in southeast Madison provides solar energy to the City of Madison and the Madison Metropolitan School District under our RER program. It is expected to increase renewable energy use in City operations by nearly 20% and by about 16% for the school district.
The RER model is designed to meet the needs and goals of companies or organizations that support or have signed on to the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers' Principles, a collaboration facilitated by the World Resources Institute and the World Wildlife Fund.
Transition from Coal: MGE has no controlling interest in coal-fired generation and announced several years ago that it has no plans for additional coal resources. The company’s transition away from coal is ongoing.
MGE reduced its ownership share in the Columbia Energy Center, one of two coal plants in which MGE is a minority owner. In February 2021, MGE and the plant's co-owners announced plans to retire the power plant earlier than initially planned. In June 2022, the co-owners of Columbia announced plans to shift the full retirement of Columbia by 18 months to June 2026. The updated timeline addresses the need for capacity as the energy industry, like many industries, experiences supply chain challenges in bringing replacement generation resources online.
MGE expects to eliminate coal-fired generation from its portfolio by the end of 2032. MGE is a minority owner of the coal-fired Elm Road Generating Station in Oak Creek, Wis. By working with the plant’s co-owners to transition to natural gas as the primary fuel source at Elm Road, MGE expects coal to be used only as a backup fuel by the end of 2030, and the company expects the elimination of coal as a fuel source at Elm Road by the end of 2032, at which point MGE will no longer own any coal-fired generation.
MGE is partnering on an innovative, first-of-its-kind in the United States long-duration energy storage system that would be capable of providing more than 10 hours of energy storage, if approved by state regulators. Known as the Columbia Energy Storage Project, the 20-megawatt project was selected in 2023 to receive a federal grant.
Enabling new technologies, such as electric vehicles (EVs) and smart home technology, is a priority under MGE's Energy 2030 framework.
- EV Charging: MGE is a utility leader in EV charging with a network of public charging stations that operates on 100% clean energy (including an EV fast-charging hub in the heart of Madison’s Capitol East District), an EV home charging program and other programs and pilots for employers and multifamily property owners to install charging stations at workplaces and residential properties. MGE is working to serve a growing EV market and to reduce carbon emissions.
- Partnerships: MGE is partnering with the City of Madison's Metro Transit, which serves the majority of MGE's electric service territory with public transit, to facilitate electric buses and charging infrastructure. The City has a goal to electrify its bus fleet. MGE is providing financial and in-kind support as well as expertise to support the City's electrification efforts.
- Smart Thermostat Program: MGE works with residential electric customers through MGE Connect®. With customers’ permission, minor temperature adjustments are made to their smart thermostats to reduce energy use during periods of high demand. The program allows MGE to better understand the role and impact of smart devices in managing demand on our community grid. MGE is meeting another objective under Energy 2030 to deepen customer engagement around energy efficiency and conservation.
- Residential Battery Storage: In collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute and residential electric customers, MGE is working with several homeowners who have a solar photovoltaic system and a battery installed outside their home. This project helps MGE understand how batteries operate in Wisconsin temperatures and how batteries could help to control long-term costs by managing our collective use of energy. Battery storage also could provide enhanced reliability as we continue our transition to greater use of renewable resources.
- Managed EV Charging: MGE is partnering with EV drivers in our service territory to test how smart charging using vehicle telematics can save customers money and help plan for the impact of EVs on our grid.
Energy 2050 Together Website: One of the ways in which MGE seeks to engage customers and keep customers informed of efforts to achieve deep decarbonization is through mge2050.com, which features clean energy programs and projects, new technologies, such as EVs, and energy-saving tips and information.
*Battery storage timing to be determined.