Community Energy Workshop Summary

Workshop Summary

The Community Energy Workshop was a unique and highly interactive event and the next step in MGE's ongoing effort to engage the community. Input from the Community Energy Workshop will help to guide MGE's Energy 2030 framework as we move forward.

The Workshop provided an opportunity for about 200 community leaders and members to participate in a deliberative dialogue. Workshop participants reflected a comprehensive cross section of perspectives from throughout our community and from MGE's 146,000 electric customers.

Community Energy Workshop

  • April 19, 2016, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m., Monona Terrace in Madison, Wis.
  • MGE's ongoing community engagement for building tomorrow's community energy company.
  • Led by independent facilitator Don Edwards, Justice and Sustainability Associates (JSA), Washington, D.C.
  • Logistics by Covision, Washington, D.C.
Commitment to Engagement

In 2015, MGE undertook an unprecedented customer engagement effort with the help of Justice and Sustainability Associates (JSA), a respected Washington, D.C., firm recognized for its facilitation skills.

This process was dedicated to listening to customers as they shared their thoughts about their energy needs and concerns. We held nearly 100 Community Energy Conversations for anyone who wanted to discuss our collective energy future. We also participated in numerous stakeholder discussions; collaborated with the Citizens Utility Board and Clean Wisconsin; and conducted an independent, random survey of customers.

Now, with the conclusion of the Community Energy Workshop, we have taken another significant step by gathering input from broad and diverse perspectives from throughout our community. While MGE works to responsibly serve customers and deliver critical service to our community, we will continue to seek community input and participation. We can only achieve our Energy 2030 goals by working with our customers. We will look to our customers throughout this process to inform our efforts for the next 15 years.

MGE encourages participants and other interested customers to visit to review the full range of information and share thoughts with MGE at any time.

Broad and Diverse Demographics

Workshop participants included leaders and representatives from a broad and diverse set of organizations and interests, including nonprofits, neighborhoods, businesses, educational institutions, advocacy, environmental, energy and sustainability groups, as well as racial, cultural and linguistic perspectives.

Energy 2030

Participants offered MGE advice and observations regarding the company's work to advance its Energy 2030 framework and address the challenges of the changing energy world. Emerging themes included:

  • "Bold moves and aggressive attitude, don't hesitate on your changes."
  • "The video stated everything that the public wants to hear—the question is how to do it."
  • "I want to see MGE figure out a win/win, not an either/or"—tension between reliability, safety, cost, and clean energy.
  • Concern about costs: "It's expensive to be clean and green."
  • "How can we motivate consumers to change their energy usage for the greater good?"
  • "Achieve a wind and solar balance while continuing to move away from coal."
  • Critical to recognize that communities and sectors use energy and receive information differently. Solutions need to be more individualized.
  • Communicate upfront with customers in plain language and reinforce credibility.
  • "As technology improves and the cost of renewable energy goes down, what is a new business model that MGE could use so they do not go obsolete?"
  • Technology innovation is inevitable, how does MGE build a system flexible and efficient enough to adapt to change?
  • MGE should consider people who can't afford energy. Will the new technologies only benefit the affluent?

Energy Products and Services

Participants also provided input about the needs of customers that MGE should address as it develops new energy products and services in the future. Emerging themes included:

  • "Since there is so much great technology already out there to help us conserve, how can MGE better educate people about these options?"
  • "Can the community band together to make costs less so everyone can afford?"
  • Energy costs and products/services are not widely understood.
  • Personal energy consumption needs to be described in layman's terms.
  • Help with financing new technologies for homeowners and landlords.
  • Increase understanding about "peak demand" and provide ways to impact it.
  • Technology to give people basic information in real time.
  • Increase ways personal technology can be used to help meet the 2030 goals—"Phone app competition for neighborhood."
  • Provides a balance of incentives, price and rate models for new products and efficiency—to increase equity.
  • "Used a program that allowed MGE to reduce my energy when there is peak usage and I liked it. It made it easy and passive."

Community Engagement

Participants shared their observations and advice regarding MGE's future engagement with the community. Emerging themes included:

  • "Keep in mind that the loudest voice is not always the representative of the community."
  • "MGE is doing a lot right—keep it up!"
  • "Keep the community informed and engaged as to why MGE is making the change they are."—Frequent, regular, tailored communication is necessary.
  • MGE should do regular reports on the progress under Energy 2030.
  • People want to see examples of best practices (model projects).
  • Engage diverse communities that have different needs and expectations.
  • MGE needs to diversify their workforce and spokespeople—not just entry level.
  • Continue with efforts like the New Green Challenge.
  • "Make people see why it's important, and why they should care."
  • Simplify the energy bill so people understand it more easily.
  • Personalize communication beyond groups. "There is diversity within diversity."
  • "Demographics—millennial conversation is important." Engage customers of the future, start with education in schools about energy much earlier.
  • Use members of the community as ambassadors. "The educator matters."
  • "Couple energy talks with good nutrition, etc. Energy talks are boring."
  • "Invest today for long-term partnerships."
  • "Any conversation in Madison these days is about equity, and MGE needs to have that explicitly part of their conversation. We want to see it on the themes here."



  • 11% 25 - 35
  • 19% 36 - 45
  • 28% 46 - 55
  • 26% 56 - 64
  • 15% 65 or better


  • 2% American Indian/Alaska Native
  • 8% Asian/Southeast Asian
  • 14% Black or African American
  • 0% Hawaiian/Pacific Island
  • 10% Hispanic or Latino
  • 63% White
  • 3% Two or more races/culture
  • 0% Prefer not to share


  • 66% Man
  • 34% Woman
  • 0% Transgender
  • 0% Prefer not to share

Workshop participants as representative of community organizations and/or affiliations.

  • 45% Advocacy/Policy (seniors, children, equity/inclusion, etc.)
  • 32% Education
  • 31% Energy/Environmental/Sustainability
  • 11% Faith Community
  • 39% Large or Small Business
  • 34% Neighborhood/Community (center, association, organization, etc.)
  • 26% Social Services (employment, housing, mental health, etc.)
  • 15% Trade/Professional Association
  • 9% Other

Workshop participants brought areas of expertise and focus to the deliberative discussions.

  • 24% Arts/Culture/Tourism
  • 60% Community/Economic/Workforce Development
  • 34% Education
  • 29% Energy/Environmental/Sustainability
  • 17% Health/Safety/Emergency Management
  • 5% Hospitality (food service, hotel, etc.)
  • 37% Professional services (legal, communications, accounting, finance, insurance, development, etc.)
  • 30% Racial Equity/Social Justice
  • 29% Social Services (employment, food, housing, mental health, public health, etc.)
  • 10% Other