Make a difference on Earthday!
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What is Earth Day?

Woo-hoo! There is much to celebrate! A day to remind us to learn about how to protect our precious Earth and put our ideas into action to be Earth friendly each and every day!

Every year millions of people around the globe participate in events and activities on Earth Day to celebrate our environment and unite in activism to spread ideas to help our earth. But this year's Earth Day 2020 is even more special, because it marks 50 years of the special day.

As the development of technologies using renewable energy continues to grow, we have new hope for a cleaner, better world for generations to come.

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Click on these "Fifties" symbols to learn
about the history of Earth Day and
to find out about protecting our Earth!

How did Earth Day get started?

Senator Gaylord Nelson
(Photo: WHS-93130)

Thank you to Wisconsin's Gaylord Nelson for his amazing spirit that spearheaded the Earth Day movement!

Learn more about Gaylord Nelson from PBS Wisconsin.

You can learn more about the history of Earth Day at

Gaylord Nelson, the Founder of Earth Day, was born in Clear Lake, Wis., and was 89 when he died in 2005.

Nelson was elected Governor of Wisconsin in 1958 and served in the U.S. Senate from 1962 until 1981.

He was an advocate for the environment. The idea for Earth Day evolved over a few years with Nelson's idea to bring attention to environmental issues. In 1969, Nelson had the idea of applying "teach-ins" used as part of demonstrations to organize a huge grassroots movement for environmental issues. In September 1969, he announced a nationwide demonstration in spring 1970. The response from the media and people across the country was immediate.

The success of the first Earth Day was spectacular and beyond anything that Senator Nelson had anticipated. More than 20 million demonstrators and thousands of schools and local communities participated. As Senator Nelson recounted, "That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself."

Headline says Plug-in Electric Vehicles

Whether it's to reduce carbon emissions from gas-powered vehicles or to use more renewable sources of energy, like wind and solar, electric vehicles (EVs) are a super cool choice for getting from here to there.

More and more modes of transportation are going electric. It's an amazing movement that is sure to gain speed and traction!

Hop on!

How do electric vehicles work?

Vehicle charging station

An electric vehicle is powered by an electric motor rather than a gasoline or diesel engine. While some newer electric vehicles have their own distinctive exterior designs, you'll really notice the difference under the hood.

  • A conventional engine is replaced by an electric motor.
  • The speed and direction of the vehicle (forward or reverse) is determined by a controller.
  • The motor gets its power from an array of rechargeable batteries.


Benefits of electric vehicles

  1. Reduced gasoline use. In 2018, about 391 million gallons of gasoline were consumed per day.
  2. Lower fuel costs. Electricity is less expensive per mile driven than gasoline or diesel fuel.
  3. Reduced air emissions. MGE customers can offset electricity emissions by buying green power for your home and vehicle charging through MGE's Green Power Tomorrow program.

Fifty years of EVs!

EV timeline infographic 1970s 1990s 2000s 2010s

Charging up!

Where can you plug in?

MGE has a network of charging stations around our community. Find the charging station closest to you at

Q‐How many MGE charging stations are there in the Madison area?

Q‐Which EV has the longest range?

DC fast charging station

DC Fast Charging Stations

MGE installed Wisconsin's first public fast charger for electric vehicles (EVs). The unit can charge an EV battery to 80% in less than 30 minutes. The fast charging option now makes commuting longer distances more convenient for EV drivers. Visit to learn more.

How far can I go?

Cars are now available that can travel 200+ miles on a charge. Automotive engineers are working on technology to help extend the range of electric vehicles.

50th anniversary

Q‐How long does it take to charge an electric car?

Love EV logo

Visit for stories and information about EVs!

Solar energy is a natural. Solar energy, or sunlight, can be used to generate electircity, provide hot water and heat, cool and light buildings.

Passive solar

No mechanical devices are used in passive solar heating. Buildings designed for passive solar heating often have large windows that face south to absorb as much sunlight as possible. They might also use building materials that absorb and slowly release the sun's heat. Passive solar designs can reduce heating bills by up to 50%.

Photovoltaic (solar cells)

Photovoltaic cells turn sunlight directly into electricity. The simplest cells might power your watch or calculator. To power a building, many cells are combined into a system or array.

Solar energy in our schools

MGE has installed photovoltaic systems on area high schools and community sites to create more awareness of renewable energy. Visit for more information.

Concentrating solar power

Some power plants use a concentrating solar power system. The sun's energy is concentrated in one area using mirrors. This creates a lot of heat. The heat produces steam used to run a generator that creates electricity.

Solar hot water

Solar water heaters use the sun to heat water that flows through a panel that faces the sun. These systems can reduce the need for conventional water heating by two-thirds. Sometimes the hot water that is collected also can be used to heat a building.

50th anniversary

Solar energy is a natural



Solar projects in the area

Family bike ride on a bike path Solar Flare solar panels Solar canopy Installing solar panels at the state capitol Shared Solar panels

Aldo Leopold Nature Center

Bike Path Lighting

Dane County Arena

Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo

Goodman Pool

Lussier Family Heritage Center

Madison Children's Museum

Olbrich Gardens Solar Flair Solar Parking Canopy at MGE State Capitol

UW-Madison Arboretum

Middleton Operations Center

Badger Hollow (under construction)

Morey Field Solar (under construction)

See the solar energy generated by the sun firsthand. Work with your teacher and classmates to build this fun and tasty Solar Hot Dog Cooker.

Click for instructions
and more solar resources »
hot dog

Shared Solar Headline

Middleton Shared Solar facilityShared Solar is an awesome way to share in the power of the sun! MGE built a huge array of solar panels on the City of Middleton Municipal Operations Center in 2016 and is building another array at the Middleton Municipal Airport (Morey Field). MGE customers sign up for the program to help foster the use of locally generated solar energy in our community. The clean, renewable solar electricity generated through Shared Solar helps the environment by reducing CO2 emissions.

Shared Solar infographic

Wind turbines capture the wind's energy with propeller-like blades that are mounted on a rotor. Turbines are placed on top of high towers to take advantage of the stronger wind at 100 feet or more above the ground.

Single wind turbines can be used to generate power for a single home or farm. Utilities build a large number of wind turbines close together to form a wind farm.

Wind Energy Facts On wind farms, the turbines take up only 5% of the land, leaving the rest for other uses like farming.

The total wind resource in the United States is very large. All states have some windy areas, but the Great Plains and Midwest lead the rest of the country. The states of Texas, Kansas and North Dakota could provide enough electricity to power the entire U.S.

Five nations, including U.S., Germany, Spain, China and India, account for roughly 73% of the world’s installed wind energy capacity. Wind energy is the fastest growing renewable energy source around the world.


1390 The Dutch create the Tower Mill and hire windsmiths to run them.


Late 19th Century Americans start using a multi-blade windmill to generate electricity.

Wind energy has been used since early recorded history to do work. From powering boats along the Nile as early as 5000 B.C. to pushing the blades on a windmill in order to pump water and to crush a farmer's grain, wind has been, and still is, used as a viable source of energy.

What's a Wind Farm?Wind farm

MGE has a 17-turbine wind farm in Kewaunee County, Wis.; an 18-turbine wind farm in Kensett, Iowa; and a 33-turbine wind farm in Saratoga, Iowa. If we burned fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas to make the same amount of electricity as these wind farms make each year, these fossil fuels would put 363,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the air. That wouldn’t be good for the environment.

MGE builds wind farm west of Madison

map of Iowa and Wisconsin

MGE's wind farm is located about 200 miles west of Madison near Saratoga, Iowa, in an area known for its wind. The 66-megawatt wind farm, which is MGE's largest to date, serves about 47,000 homes with clean energy.

The turbines reach nearly 500 feet in the air.

Q‐Which wind tower will produce the most electricity?

A. 350 ft.
B. 425 ft.
C. 500 ft.

Green TV

It's a big neighborhood and this great Web channel brings us all together. It's called Green View and features stories about how MGE is investing in wind and solar energy.

Illustration of a green TV


Green Careers

People who have green careers promote energy efficiency and increase the supply of renewable energy. Most green careers require a post-high school degree. Here are some examples of green energy careers that might interest you:

  1. Wind Technician
  2. Solar Site Assessor
  3. Architect
  4. Landscape Architect
  5. Electrician
  6. Surveyor
  7. Excavator
  8. Crane Operator
  9. Civil Engineer
  10. Assembly Technician
  11. Arborist
  12. Hydrologist
  13. Botanist

Building your community energy company of the future

MGE's website, Mom and daughter learning about energy at a laptop, is your source for learning how we all can work together to save energy. When we all use energy efficiently and reduce our energy use, we are able to make an impact by helping our environment. Being energy efficient is being environmentally friendly.

Go to and find a good idea for saving energy.

50th anniversary

Here are some fun things you can do to get ENERGY SMART!

  1. Talk to your family members about your ideas to conserve energy in your house.
  2. Count up and keep track of the number of watts each idea could save in a month. For example, if you turn off lights in rooms that aren't being used, how much did you save that evening? Or if you only put one light on instead of two, how much would that save?

    Make a paper gold star to stick to that appliance or household item. After a week, how many stars are all around the house where you have saved energy?

  3. Find other resources on the internet that show you how to save energy or teach you about renewable energy like solar and wind power. See how our area of the state is doing to help renewable energy become reality.
  4. Write an essay about how your school can save energy.
  5. Look up and learn about the latest government actions and policies being considered or enacted to help protect the environment.

Watts Up portable energy meter

Phantom or standby energy users are devices that require electricity even when you aren't actively using them. They don’t use much power individually, but when you add them up, they impact your monthly energy use. Check out a "Watts Up" portable energy meter from your public library to learn which equipment uses power when turned off.

Q‐Where can you borrow a portable energy meter?

Energy meter

Geothermal Community Center

Geothermal energy is beneath you!

Geothermal heat pumps circulate liquids through pipes buried in a continuous loop (either horizontally or vertically) to heat and cool buildings. Geothermal energy takes advantage of the constant subsurface ground temperature.

Q‐Which community center in Madison has geothermal technology?

Watt's in your family's kitchen?
Here's an amazing EV fact!
Button to download checklist house
Nature Net headline image

Nature is still open!

While the unfortunate situation with the COVID-19 virus has forced the cancellation and postponement of many of our Nature Net partner Earth Day events, we can still enjoy being outdoors in the beautiful gifts of Mother Nature and celebrate Earth Day EVERY DAY! Now more than ever we need to protect each other and be wise about our activities. Let's all stay healthy, happy and positive together!

There are many places you can still visit:

Take a hike or ride your bike in one of the beautiful parks or natural settings that our area has to offer. Breathe in the fresh air, examine the water with the newborn flies and bees buzzing about, look up in the trees to see birds making new nest homes for their new little families to hatch into, and mostly feel the energy of the earth beneath your feet, the sunshine on your skin, and enjoy the sense of peace it brings you.

Continue to check back to our website and the websites of our partners linked here for updates on calendar events. We hope we are all able to enjoy them again at a later date or next year at this time!