West Riverside Energy Center

The Role of Natural Gas in Reducing Carbon Emissions

Natural gas adds needed reliability and balance to our electric system while we continue to transition away from coal-fired generation and add more renewable energy to our generation mix. The dispatchability and lower emissions associated with natural gas make it a powerful bridge fuel to ensure continued reliability and carbon reductions as technology continues to develop.

The energy industry continues to evolve rapidly. New technologies continue to emerge and to evolve, such as carbon capture, utilization and sequestration, which, if proven cost-effective, hold the potential to make natural gas carbon-neutral in the future.

Batteries are another example of an evolving technology that goes hand-in-hand with natural gas as a bridge fuel. Paired with solar generation, batteries can provide reserve capacity to deliver power on demand for a period of time. Battery technology is still developing, so that amount of time is currently limited. As the technology continues to develop, the reliability and lower emissions of natural gas can help bridge the way to a more sustainable energy supply.

MGE is committed to our carbon reduction and net-zero carbon goals. We would expect to take advantage of new technologies and other options in the future, such as the early retirement or the sale of fossil fuel assets, that allow us to meet our goal of net-zero carbon electricity by 2050.    

The West Riverside Energy Center

Using natural gas as a bridge fuel will allow us to meet our customers' needs reliably as we reduce carbon emissions and transition to a more sustainable energy supply. In 2022, MGE received approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to purchase 25 megawatts (MW) of the West Riverside Energy Center. This state-of-the-art, 730-MW, highly efficient, combined-cycle natural gas facility is located near Beloit, Wis., and generates enough energy to power more than 550,000 households a year.
With the early retirement of the coal-fired Columbia Energy Center and the transition away from coal at the Elm Road Generating Station, the lower carbon intensity of the West Riverside Energy Center helps MGE meet the electricity needs of our customers, lower emissions consistent with global climate science and maintain our top-ranked electric reliability. This investment plays an important role in our path toward reducing carbon emissions at least 80% by 2030 and achieving net-zero carbon electricity by 2050 as it will enable the retirement of Columbia and investment in renewable energy and battery storage.

The West Riverside Energy Center is operated by its majority owner, Alliant Energy. MGE owns 25 MW, with an option to purchase another 25 MW. 

Please see the FAQ below to learn more about the role of this facility in providing safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy as we work toward our goal of net-zero carbon electricity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the West Riverside Energy Center?

MGE is working toward net-zero carbon electricity. Why did MGE purchase a share of a natural gas plant?

What role does natural gas play in growing renewable energy?

How does natural gas help MGE achieve net-zero carbon electricity?

What are the benefits of a modern natural gas plant like the West Riverside Energy Center?

If MGE needs additional energy to serve its customers, why isn't the company buying another wind or solar farm?

With the emergence of battery storage, why does MGE need natural gas generation? Could MGE add more battery storage systems at its renewable generation facilities?