MGE Increases Energy 2030 Carbon Reduction Goal to 80%

MGE commits to at least 80% carbon reduction by 2030 as part of path to net-zero carbon by 2050.

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80% Carbon Reduction by 2030

  • MGE targeting net-zero carbon by 2050
  • Ongoing transition away from coal
  • Continuing investment in cleaner energy
  • Natural gas serving as bridge fuel
  • Decarbonization strategies consistent with climate science
Madison, Wis., Jan. 31, 2022—Consistent with its commitment to sustainable energy and to global climate science, Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) is committing to reducing carbon at least 80% by 2030 as it works toward achieving net-zero carbon electricity by 2050. Under its Energy 2030 framework, announced in 2015, the company set a goal of 40% carbon reduction by 2030, one of the first such goals set by a utility and in alignment with the Paris Agreement on climate change. 

Since then, the company has said it fully expects to achieve carbon reductions of at least 65% by 2030. In 2019, MGE established its goal of net-zero carbon electricity by mid-century, consistent with climate science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and analysis of the company’s goal by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

“In 2019, MGE was one of the first utilities in the nation to commit to net-zero carbon by 2050. Since announcing our carbon reduction goals, we have said that if we can move further faster by working with our customers, we will,” said MGE Chairman, President and CEO Jeff Keebler. “Today’s announcement of our goal to reduce carbon at least 80% by 2030 reflects our commitment to working together to move further faster. We’re committed to doing everything we can do today to advance our deep decarbonization strategies as quickly and as cost-effectively as we can while maintaining our top-ranked electric reliability and our responsibility to those we serve.”

Ongoing transition away from coal-fired generation

In the last year, we have announced the planned early retirement of the Columbia Energy Center by 20251, about 15 years ahead of schedule. MGE is a minority owner of Columbia, which currently provides MGE with about 200 megawatts (MW) of capacity. Columbia provides MGE customers with about one-third of their energy use. 

While we are replacing much of the coal-fired generation to be retired from Columbia with investments in renewable generation, MGE also plans to purchase 25 MW from the West Riverside Energy Center, with an option to purchase an additional 25 MW. A 50-MW share of this new, state-of-the-art and highly efficient gas plant is expected to produce about 10% of the emissions of MGE’s share of the Columbia plant. 

The West Riverside facility has much lower emission rates compared to coal-fired generation and other older natural gas plants. Investment in West Riverside helps MGE meet the energy needs of our customers with the retirement of Columbia and to dramatically increase the amount of clean energy in our generating mix. 

Natural gas is a bridge fuel on our path toward a net-zero carbon future. Natural gas plants are an especially efficient backup to renewable energy because they can be dispatched quickly and at times when it's more challenging for wind or solar generation.

Additionally, by working with our partners to transition to natural gas as the primary fuel source at the coal-fired Elm Road Generating Station, MGE expects to substantially reduce our use of coal by 2030 and to have no ownership of coal-fired generation by 2035. 

Growing our use of cost-effective, clean energy 

Investment in renewable generation will replace much of the capacity needed due to the early retirement of the Columbia plant. We continue to grow our use of renewable energy with the anticipated addition of nearly 400 MW of wind, solar and battery storage between 2015 and 2024. We expect to invest in additional renewable generation beyond what is currently planned.

MGE also purchases a portion of the energy it uses to serve our customers from the market. With the retirement of a significant amount of coal generation and the growth of utility-scale renewable projects in the Midwest, we expect market emissions to continue to decrease, which also will help to decrease MGE’s overall carbon footprint. 

Strategies to achieve net‐zero carbon electricity

MGE's net‐zero carbon goal is consistent with climate science from the IPCC October 2018 Special Report on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To achieve deep decarbonization, MGE is growing its use of renewable energy, engaging customers around energy efficiency and working to electrify transportation, all of which are key strategies identified by the IPCC.

About MGE

MGE generates and distributes electricity to 157,000 customers in Dane County, Wis., and purchases and distributes natural gas to 166,000 customers in seven south‐central and western Wisconsin counties. MGE's parent company is MGE Energy, Inc. The company's roots in the Madison area date back more than 150 years.

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 need for capacity as the energy industry, like many industries, experiences supply chain challenges in bringing replacement generation resources online. The updated timeline has no impact on MGE’s carbon reduction goals or aggressive transition to greater use of cleaner energy. MGE is committed to our transition away from coal while maintaining safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy to serve our customers.
 

Kaya Freiman - Corporate Communications Manager
Madison Gas and Electric
608-252-7276 | kfreiman@mge.com