Frequently Asked Questions

How was the Energy 2030 framework developed?
The Energy 2030 framework was informed by input from MGE's Community Energy Conversations, customer surveys, industry research, other collaborative partnerships and numerous stakeholder discussions as well as the company's own planning and analyses.

Nearly 10 years ago, we introduced our Energy 2015 plan. This now-complete plan also was informed by community feedback. Under Energy 2015, we:

  • Discontinued coal use at our downtown plant.
  • Increased renewable energy by almost 12 times.
  • Reduced our carbon emissions by almost 20% since 2005.

Now, we look forward to continued developments in technology and to working with our customers and the communities we serve to reach the goals presented in the Energy 2030 framework.

What are the identified objectives in the Energy 2030 framework?
Under the Energy 2030 framework, MGE will:

  • Transition toward supplying 30% of retail energy sales with renewable resources by 2030. As a milestone goal, we will supply 25% of retail energy sales with renewable resources by 2025.
  • Work with customers to reduce CO2 emissions associated with meeting our customers' energy needs 40% from 2005 levels by 2030.
  • Increase engagement around energy efficiency and conservation to reduce our community's overall energy and peak electric use to reduce long-term costs for everyone.
  • Create a more dynamic, integrated electric grid that supports and integrates new technology.
  • Develop and test new products and services to offer customers more control over their energy use.
  • Deepen our engagement with customers to chart our next steps and determine over time, as technologies evolve, how best to meet customer needs and accomplish our long-term goals.

How did MGE identify the long-term goals in Energy 2030?
Energy 2030 builds upon MGE's history of being responsive to the needs and priorities of our customers. We listened to our customers and responded with a framework that we believe reflects what our customers want from their community energy company and a framework that provides the direction we want to set for our utility.

The Energy 2030 framework also is consistent with the 25% renewable energy by 2025 goals of Madison, Middleton, Monona, Fitchburg and Dane County. We look forward to partnering with our customers to reach these goals.

We'll continue to engage with customers in determining how we accomplish Energy 2030's objectives. We know, based on the Community Energy Conversations and surveys of customers by a Wisconsin-based professional market research firm, that continuing to transition to a more environmentally sustainable energy supply, giving customers more control around ways they use energy, reducing costs and keeping customers engaged are among our customers' priorities. We share those priorities as we look to grow our use of new technologies for the benefit of all of our customers.

Customer survey results
MGE's extensive customer survey indicated broad and strong support for the company's long-term objectives, for example:

  • 96% of those surveyed consider it important that MGE provide an electric grid that supports new technology and maintains reliable service at a reasonable cost.
  • 95% of those surveyed consider it important that MGE continue to transition to a more environmentally sustainable energy supply.
  • 96% of those surveyed consider it important that MGE ensure that changing technology serves all customers equitably.
  • 95% of those surveyed consider it important that MGE help customers control their peak energy use and thus avoid higher costs for everyone in the future.
  • 78% of those surveyed consider it important that MGE provide more customized products and services customers want today and in the future.

Additionally, customers expressed strong support for MGE offering the following:

  • A variety of pricing options to give customers more control over their energy costs based on how much electricity is used or when it's used.
  • New tools for customers to improve energy efficiency and conservation at home.
  • New programs that allow customers to select different types of energy from MGE, such as power from MGE's wind farms or solar photovoltaics.
  • New options to enhance reliability and to get more information on customer energy usage.

The Energy 2030 framework is ambitious and builds on our history of being a leader in the utility industry. Back in 1999, MGE—one of the smallest investor-owned utilities in the country—built what was then the largest wind farm east of Mississippi River.

Is the Energy 2030 framework ambitious?
Yes, the Energy 2030 framework is ambitious.

Under Energy 2030, MGE will work with customers to achieve a 40% reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels. MGE has set this goal despite a projected increase in population from 2015 to 2030. This goal under Energy 2030 builds upon MGE's 20% reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 to 2015.

As far as we are aware, no other Wisconsin utility is proposing a framework for the future like MGE's.

It's also ambitious because it assumes that new technologies will continue to become more cost competitive and that customers will work with us to manage their energy use.

Why doesn't MGE go further or faster than the goals in its Energy 2030 framework?
If we can, we will. How quickly and successfully we can reach or exceed our goals depends on customer participation with us and how technology evolves over time.

Is the Energy 2030 framework consistent with the sustainability plans of local communities?
The Energy 2030 framework is consistent with the 25% renewable energy by 2025 goals of Madison, Middleton, Monona, Fitchburg and Dane County. We look forward to partnering with our customers to reach these goals.

Energy 2030 also represents the direction we want to set for MGE as we continue to balance our customers' shared values and a fundamental obligation to safe and reliable energy for future generations.

What are some of the challenges in implementing these changes?
Energy 2030 is a long-term framework. Its success will depend on several important conditions. Customer participation in programs, partnerships, projects and activities will be critical to the achievement of the goals. We can only achieve Energy 2030's goals by working with our customers.

Underlying the framework's goals are critical assumptions. We have made assumptions about customer growth and customers managing and using energy efficiently. We are assuming that we can work with customers to reduce overall and peak energy use despite the fact that the area we serve continues to grow in population. We assume that renewable technology will become increasingly cost competitive.

Should our assumptions not be met, it may be necessary for us to modify our plans. Our plans also may need to evolve as technology and markets change over time, as well as any changes in regulations, laws or statutes. We must secure favorable regulatory treatment for our initiatives and investments.

At all times, we need to meet our fundamental obligation to serve customers and deliver critical service to this community. Most importantly, we must receive strong community support for all facets of the Energy 2030 framework.

How will MGE implement the Energy 2030 framework?
Energy 2030 represents MGE's direction for the next 15 years, as it was informed by feedback from our Community Energy Conversations, customer surveys, stakeholder discussions, collaborative partnerships, industry research and our own analyses.

In April 2016, MGE hosted a Community Energy Workshop in downtown Madison. The Workshop provided an opportunity for about 200 community leaders and members to participate in a deliberative dialogue on issues surrounding energy. Participants reflected a comprehensive cross section of perspectives from throughout our community and from MGE's 146,000 electric customers. Input from the Community Energy Workshop will help to guide MGE's Energy 2030 framework as we move forward.

Figuring out how to reach our Energy 2030 goals will be an ongoing process with implementation to occur over time. We will further engage with customers to determine which products, services and programs will best serve our customers and our objectives.

Many of our programs, initiatives and investments will require customer research, analysis and ultimately approval by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. We look forward to working with our customers and encouraging their support and participation to ensure our community can accomplish these long-term energy goals.

How much will it cost to implement Energy 2030?
We believe that our framework represents a long-run, cost-effective strategy for our customers. Specific costs will depend on the unfolding of a variety of factors over time, including technologies, markets and regulations.

When will customers be able to participate in new programs?
Some programs and services will be available earlier than others. For example, residential customers now can enroll in Shared Solar. This pilot program allows customers to receive the benefits of solar power without installing solar panels on their own homes. If there's sufficient interest and our Shared Solar pilot project proves successful, MGE could explore additional community solar projects.

As technologies evolve, we will do research, determine customer interest and develop other programs and services. For example, MGE could begin to develop a program in the near term working with customers to introduce and incorporate "smart" thermostats. Such a program would be designed to conserve energy and reduce peak-energy usage, which also would lower long-term costs for everyone.

As new consumer products like "smart appliances" become available, we also may explore, research and test products and services that take advantage of their capabilities. "Smart" appliances can "talk" to the electric grid and automatically adjust to conserve energy, based on a customer's preferences. Whether additional programs and services ultimately go forward will depend, in part, on the opportunities presented by new technology and the level of customer interest (and regulatory approval).

For example, MGE's Green Power Tomorrow (GPT) program, which began in 1999, originally launched as an experimental green pricing pilot project. Within a year, MGE determined it had the necessary customer support, and we returned to state regulators with a request to expand the program. Through our GPT program, which still exists today, customers have the option of enrolling and paying slightly more for electricity that's generated by renewable sources.

How does MGE develop new programs, products and services?
MGE takes a number of steps to develop a new program, product or service. Energy 2030 is a 15-year framework. New programs and services will take time to develop and to implement. We look forward to working with customers to determine which programs, products and services they would support as part of our effort to reach our community's energy goals.

Like many industries, the utility industry evolves over time. Technologies advance and offer new opportunities for consumers and for MGE. To research new products or services, we analyze data from a variety of sources. We also do customer research with surveys and focus groups. We draw from nationwide research and analyze industry best practices and technologies.

If thorough research and analysis show a viable and proven technology and sufficient customer support for using this new technology, we then design a new program or service. We submit a proposal to state regulators. Our proposal covers the need for the project, financing and other details. It also must show that customers will support the project. Usually, we start with a pilot project, which is limited in scope. Pilots provide valuable information about customer support, program design and the performance of new technology.

If MGE gets state approval for a new product or service, MGE staff then work directly with customers to implement the program. Expanding the program, if the pilot proves successful, also requires regulatory approval.

Why did MGE hold Community Energy Conversations?
As a community energy company, we are committed to customer engagement.

We found tremendous value in our first round of Conversations more than 10 years ago when we developed Energy 2015. This year's effort involved almost 100 small group, in-person discussions. No other investor-owned public utility has done such extensive engagement that we're aware of. The design allowed for listening and an exchange of information.

The Conversations, combined with input from customer surveys, industry research, other collaborative partnerships and numerous stakeholder discussions, informed our long-term framework. Achieving the goals in the framework also will involve ongoing engagement to determine further which programs, products and services meet our customers' needs and Energy 2030's objectives to build tomorrow's community energy company.

Is MGE requesting to restructure its rates or increase the fixed customer charge?
We did not propose an increase in fixed charges for residential and small business customers in our current rate case before the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

In the future, we anticipate researching and testing innovative pricing and rate options. As we do, we will consider and balance the following factors:

  • Encouraging energy efficiency and conservation.
  • Encouraging reduced use during times of electric system peak to save long-term costs for all customers.
  • Equitably covering the costs of the critical assets used to serve customers, including the costs to maintain and improve the energy grid for everyone who uses it.

Our approach for exploring any innovative new rate options will be to do research, testing and piloting of new options with customers on a voluntary basis to test customer acceptance and understand how well different options serve our objectives.

What does MGE mean by "tomorrow's community energy company" or "building a community energy company for the future"?
MGE is the only investor-owned public utility in the country—that we're aware of—that brands itself as your community energy company. We're homegrown. We're locally based. We live and work in the communities we serve. We take seriously our tradition of local engagement—it is the core of who we are and will continue to be. Customer support is critical to achieving our Energy 2030 goals, and we look forward to working together.

In building a community energy company for the future, we will build upon our proven record of customer engagement, further seize opportunities to adopt new technologies for the benefit of all of our customers and continue to serve as a leader in our industry.