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Shared Solar Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about our Shared Solar program.

General Questions

What is the Shared Solar program?
Shared Solar is a simple way for you to get solar power's benefits without having a system on your home or business. Now you can support solar even if you rent or have a shaded roof.

The program offers customers local, cost-effective solar energy. Participants reserve a portion of the electricity produced from a large solar array over its 25-year lifetime. The power from the Shared Solar project is delivered to MGE's electric grid, replacing electricity that would have been generated by fossil fuels.

Where is Shared Solar located?
MGE partnered with the City of Middleton to build the first system on the roof of the city's Municipal Operations Center (MOC), east of and visible from Highway 12, on the north side of Middleton.

An expansion of the Shared Solar program, with a second solar installation, is planned for Morey Field in Middleton.

How much electricity is produced?
The array located on the MOC has a capacity of 500 kilowatts (kW). Given the type and efficiencies of solar panels and other project components and our region's solar exposure, we have generated about 650,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually from the project.

The program's share of the installation at Morey Field has a planned capacity of 3.5 MW.

Are participants paying to own part of the solar array?
No. Participants reserve a portion of the electricity produced from the solar project over its 25-year lifetime.

Is the power delivered directly to the homes or businesses of participants?
The power from the Shared Solar arrays is delivered to MGE's electric grid. It replaces electricity that would have been generated by fossil fuels.

How does Shared Solar compare to buying a rooftop solar system?
Both options mean paying more for clean, renewable power in the near term. Buying your own system involves paying up-front or taking out a loan for the cost of the solar system. Joining Shared Solar involves paying a minimal up-front participation fee and a little more for the solar energy but at a fixed price for 25 years. Because the price for Shared Solar is fixed for 25 years, participation may eventually reduce your future electricity costs.

Why is solar power more expensive today? I thought the energy from the sun was free.
The energy from the sun is free, but the cost of equipment used to convert that free energy into usable electric energy is still more expensive.

What if it is a cloudy day and the solar panels do not generate enough electricity?
We do everything we can to maintain and to operate the system to maximize the amount of electricity you receive. Changes in the amount produced are normal since the amount of sunlight changes with the weather and seasons. The system will produce the most electricity in the summer when the sun is higher in the sky and the days are longer. It is also normal for solar panels to generate less energy over time as they age (about one-half of 1% per year).

monthly solar chart

What if a storm damages the solar panels?
We do everything we can to make repairs and to restore the solar system to optimal performance. Damage to the solar project will not cause participants to lose power. MGE will continue to meet the energy needs of the participants with other resources as long as there is no damage to the electrical system feeding their homes.

Can I monitor the solar project's energy production over time?
Yes, you can monitor the energy production of the solar array at the MOC at mge.com/sharedsolarproduction. We expect the new solar array's production data will be added after installation is complete.

How does Shared Solar fit with MGE's Energy 2030 framework?
This community solar program was designed by MGE with help from our customers. MGE's Shared Solar is an example of the types of innovative programs, products and services through which we'll be partnering with customers in many different ways to advance our Energy 2030 framework. Under Energy 2030, MGE has pledged to transition to a more environmentally sustainable energy supply and further reduce carbon emissions.

Associated Costs for Residential Customers

How much does Shared Solar cost?
Participants pay a one-time participation fee of $47.25 per share at sign-up.

Once a part of the program, MGE will bill participants for Shared Solar electricity at the current rate for up to 25 years, as long as the participant remains an electric customer in the MGE service territory. MGE will calculate how much of the solar electricity is applied to the actual energy use each billing period.

Participants also will pay a reduced transmission service rate of $0.008 per kWh on all solar energy billed. This is 50% of the standard transmission service rate and reflects the benefit of local solar in reducing transmission costs. This rate will be reviewed in each rate case.

An average MGE customer using 6,120 kWh per year who chooses 50% of their energy from the solar project would pay about $90 more for their electricity in the first year. This customer also paid $425.25 for the participation fee when they signed up ($47.25 per share multiplied by the 9 shares they requested).

The rest of the electricity is billed at the standard rate. Because the price for Shared Solar is fixed for 25 years, participation may eventually reduce your future electricity costs.

How much energy can residential participants purchase?
Participants are able to buy up to 50% of their annual electricity use from the Shared Solar program, based on eligibility at the time of sign-up. 

For example, if a participant used an average of 4,000 kWh annually, they could potentially purchase up to one-half or 2,000 kWh. This participant would be eligible for up to six shares, which would produce about 1,950 kWh of solar energy per year.

The maximum amount of solar energy for which participants are billed each month is 100% of their electricity consumption or the amount of electricity produced by your share of the solar project that month, whichever is less.

The table below shows potential share options, the participation fee associated with that share size and the estimated energy produced (kWh) by that number of blocks each month.

Shares
Up-front Fee:
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
Annual kWh
1 2 3 4 5 10 15 20 25 30 50 100
$47.25 $94.50 $141.75 $189.00 $236.25 $472.50 $708.75 $945.00 $1,181.25 $1,417.50 $2,362.50 $4,725.00
16 32 48 64 80 160 240 320 400 480 800 1600
21 42 63 84 105 210 315 420 525 630 1050 2100
27 54 81 108 135 270 405 540 675 810 1350 2700
30 60 90 120 150 300 450 600 750 900 1500 3000
39 78 117 156 195 390 585 780 975 1170 1950 3900
39 78 117 156 195 390 585 780 975 1170 1950 3900
39 78 117 156 195 390 585 780 975 1170 1950 3900
37 74 111 148 185 370 555 740 925 1110 1850 3700
27 54 81 108 135 270 405 540 675 810 1350 2700
22 44 66 88 110 220 330 440 550 660 1100 2200
14 28 42 56 70 140 210 280 350 420 700 1400
14 28 42 56 70 140 210 280 350 420 700 1400
325 650 975 1300 1625 3250 4875 6500 8125 9750 16250 32500

How much are the up-front costs?
The participation fee will be applied to the number of shares that are purchased. The price of each share purchased is $47.25, or in the example above with 6 shares, that would total $283.50 ($47.25 X 6 Shares).

How does the Shared Solar rate compare to the standard electric rate?
The current Shared Solar rate (Cs-1) of $0.128/kWh is currently is 2.7 cents more per kWh than the standard Rg-1 rate. However, our proposed rate of $0.109/kWh is even lower, being only about 1 cent above our average Rg-1 rate.

The standard electric rate will likely increase over time. The fixed solar rate may, in future years, reduce the overall electricity bill of participants. It is likely to take about 10 years to begin to see net savings and approximately 17 years to see a payback of the extra cost paid by participants.

Why is there a nonrefundable participation fee?
The fee covers about 10% of the cost to build a portion of the solar project. The rest of the project's costs are paid through the electricity charge. Without the participation fee, this electricity charge would be higher. The participation fee is nonrefundable because MGE is counting on those who signed up for the voluntary program to pay the costs of the solar project built to serve them.

Participation for Residential Customers

Who can participate in Shared Solar?
Currently standard residential customers are eligible to participate. Under our proposed expansion, the program also will be open to Residential Time of Use customers. Participation will be first come, first served. Under the expansion, customers who have joined the waiting list will be offered participation first.

What happens once the project is fully subscribed?
Once the project is fully subscribed, other interested customers will be placed on a waiting list. If portions of the project become available (previous participant moves out of the electric service area or otherwise chooses to exit), MGE will offer their solar to the next customer on the waiting list.

Can I join Shared Solar if I am in MGE's Green Power Tomorrow (GPT)?
Yes. When you join Shared Solar, MGE will automatically adjust your GPT purchase to apply only to your electricity use that exceeds the amount of solar power produced by your Shared Solar purchase.

What happens if I move?
Your program participation will transfer to your new MGE electric account. Participation ends if you move outside of MGE's electric service area.

Can I cancel my participation?
Yes. You can leave the program at any time. When you notify us, MGE will resume billing you for all your electricity use at the standard rate. The up-front participation fee is nonrefundable.

Can I view the Terms and Conditions?
Participants must complete and sign a Service Agreement. Read an overview of the agreement's Terms and Conditions under the existing program. The Terms and Conditions are subject to change under our proposed expansion of the program and will be published when the new service agreements become avaiable.

How can I learn more?
Residential customers can call MGE's Home Energy Line: (608) 252-7117 or 1-800-245-1125, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Commercial Customers

Are all MGE commercial electric customers eligible to participate in the proposed expansion of Shared Solar?
Customers who have an electric service meter on the Cg-3, Cg-4 or Cg-5 rate are eligible to participate.

How much energy can I purchase?
Participants are able to buy up to 50% of an eligible meter's annual electricity consumption.

For example, if an eligible service meter used an average of 50,000 kWh annually, you could choose to purchase 25,000 kWh, which is the amount of energy produced from approximately 76 shares. The participation fee for this election is $3,591 ($47.25 x 76 shares). The number of available shares to purchase may also be limited by an unusually low monthly consumption from the previous 12 months. The forecasted monthly energy production of the number of shares purchased may never exceed the monthly consumption.

The maximum amount of solar energy for which participants are billed each month is 100% of their electricity consumption or the amount of electricity produced by your per share portion of the solar project that month, whichever is less.

How can I power my business using 100% renewable energy?
For customers who sign up for Shared Solar for up to half of their annual electric use but would like to power their business with 100% renewable energy, MGE also offers our Green Power Tomorrow program (GPT). Subscribers to GPT pay one-cent more than their standard per kWh electric rate to receive a percentage or specific dollar amount of their electricity from wind and solar resources in our region. MGE business customers may sign up to purchase a percentage (1% to 100%) of their monthly electricity use through GPT or, since electricity use can vary, customers can choose instead to purchase a specific dollar amount of GPT electricity each month. Both voluntary programs support the growth of renewable energy.

Shared Solar participants reserve a share of the electricity generated by a solar array in our community. GPT participants support wind and solar resources feeding our grid from throughout the region.

If your business has meters on rate schedules Cg-2 or Cg-6, then your business may be eligible for a Renewable Energy Rider (RER). Under the RER, MGE works with your business to develop a contract to serve all or a significant portion of your business's electric needs with renewable generation. The customer is responsible for costs associated with sourcing the renewable generation and any distribution costs to deliver the energy to your business.

Can I transfer my shares from one business location to another?
If you move your business to a new location within MGE's electric service territory, your program participation may transfer to your new MGE electric account. MGE will work with you to determine if your shares are eligible for transfer. Participation ends if you move your business outside of MGE's electric service area.

Can I say my business is using renewable energy through my Shared Solar subscription?
Yes! The energy that you are purchasing through the Shared Solar program feeds our community grid, replacing energy that otherwise would have been generated by fossil fuels. Your support for Shared Solar also helps us reach shared energy goals for our community. MGE is targeting carbon dioxide emissions reductions of at least 40% by 2030 and longer-term, at least 80% by 2050. By partnering with our customers through programs such as Shared Solar, we can meet—or even exceed—these goals.

How does the solar production of my shares align with my time-of-use electric rates?

Each share will have a pre-determined monthly production profile that will be credited back to Shared Solar participants each month. The ratio of solar production that will be credited back to the customer will be based on the ratio of their consumption profile.

The solar energy supplied under this rider pursuant to the Customer's Solar Output will replace an equal amount of kWh for which the customer would otherwise be billed the applicable Electricity Service per kWh charges. When applicable, these kWh will be replaced across time of use periods in proportion to the customer's usage across these periods.

What happens if my business moves to a rate class that is no longer eligible to participate in Shared Solar?
Program participation would end and MGE would reallocate the shares. The customer's participation fee would be forfeited.

What happens once the project is fully subscribed?
Once the project is fully subscribed, other interested customers will be placed on a waiting list. If portions of the project become available (previous participant moves out of the electric service area or otherwise chooses to exit), MGE will offer their solar to the next customer on the waiting list.

Can I cancel my participation?
Yes. You can leave the program at any time. When you notify us, MGE will resume billing you for all your electricity use at the standard rates. The up-front participation fee is nonrefundable.

How can I learn more?
Commercial customers can call (608) 252-7007 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or email sharedsolarbiz@mge.com.

Existing Shared Solar Customers

I currently participate in the Shared Solar program. Do I need to do anything? 
When the expansion moves forward, MGE will email you a new agreement for your signature. Upon execution of the new agreement and completion of construction, you will enjoy the benefits of the new Cs-1 rate and the other proposed changes below.

What are some of the proposed changes to the Shared Solar Program?

  • The cost per kilowatt hour (kWh) would decrease. All participants, existing and new, would receive the lower price per kWh when the new project becomes operational.
  • Shared Solar would be available to residential customers who have signed up for our Time-of-Use Program, as well as to small and mid-size business customers.
  • The 3-kilowatt (kW) participation cap would go away. Participants would be able to purchase up to 50% of their annual electricity use. If you are eligible for additional shares, we will determine how many shares when a new Customer Agreement is ready for your signature.