Talks Business
July 2019

MOM Makes a Difference with Shared Solar

Being good stewards is a top priority for this non-profit.
 
Ellen Carlson

Ellen Carlson, executive director at Middleton Outreach Ministry (MOM), participates in MGE's Shared Solar because it is an affordable way to support renewable energy.

"Every day I have to ask myself, 'What's the best move I can make today to make tomorrow better?'" said Ellen Carlson, executive director at Middleton Outreach Ministry (MOM). "Being part of MGE's Shared Solar program is an affordable way to support renewable energy. It lets us contribute to a healthy community without compromising our main mission."
 
The first step in their energy journey:  Efficiency
MOM had considered investing in their own solar array but knew the facility would benefit from becoming more energy efficient first. "Being energy efficient saves us money and ensures as many of our donor dollars are getting to our clients as possible," Carlson said.
 
MGE conducted an energy assessment of MOM's facilities (an office building and a warehouse) and pinpointed lighting and HVAC upgrades to improve efficiency. MOM is switching to LED lighting in the office and will also update the HVAC system. Those changes will help inform potential updates in the warehouse.
 
"Because we store and distribute food in the warehouse, we have to accommodate very specific temperature controls," Carlson explained. "Finding a way to be more efficient there is quite complicated and expensive—definitely a future goal."
 
Shared Solar program drives solar revisit
Solar remained a "someday" project until Erica Hendricks, MOM's finance and operations director, learned about MGE's Shared Solar program. "It provides an affordable way to tap into solar," Carlson said. "MGE provided us with an economic snapshot of what our participation could look like both near-term and long-term. I was excited to learn that we could be saving money on our electric bills within a few short years with just a modest up-front investment."
 
What is the Shared Solar program?
It's a way for MGE customers to support locally generated solar power for their home or business. Program participants purchase a certain number of shares (up to 50% of their annual energy use) to reserve a portion of the electricity the system will produce over its 25-year lifetime. Shared Solar is a convenient, affordable option for going solar. It's also a great fit for organizations that can't justify the cost of their own array, rent their facility or have a facility that's in a shady location.
 
The first Shared Solar program launched in 2016. It was for residential customers and sold out almost immediately. For that array, MGE partnered with the City of Middleton and installed the system on the roof of the City's Municipal Operations Center. This array has a capacity of 500 kilowatts (kW) and has generated 650,000 kilowatt-hours since installation—enough electricity to support the needs of 250+ homes.
 
The second phase of the Shared Solar program will be installed at Morey Field Airport, also in Middleton. This system has a planned capacity of 3.5 megawatts—which is seven times larger than the first array—and will be available to small- to medium-sized commercial customers as well.
 
To be an eligible business participant, an organization must be an MGE electric customer and have an electric service meter on the Cg-3, Cg-4 or Cg-5 rate. Commercial organizations can buy up to 50% of their eligible meters' annual electricity consumption and will pay a fee of $47.25 for each share they purchase.
 
For complete program details, please see MGE's FAQs here.
 
Excited to partner with MGE
MOM views MGE as a long-time collaborative partner. Many MOM clients have benefited from the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program. This is supported by MGE and helps low-income consumers improve efficiency and pay their energy bill. "MGE is so invested in making the community a better place," Carlson said. "I'd highly encourage other organizations—non-profits or not—to ask MGE for recommendations to improve their energy use. Think of the impact we could have if we all worked together to invest in renewable energy and a healthy community."