Earth Day is a day to remind us to keep learning 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 to spread ideas to help our earth.
As new, more sustainable technologies continue to grow, we have new hope for a cleaner, better world for generations to come.
Senator Gaylord Nelson
Thank you to Wisconsin's Gaylord Nelson for his amazing spirit that spearheaded the Earth Day movement!
You can learn more about the history of Earth Day at nelsonearthday.net.
Gaylord Nelson, the Founder of Earth Day, was born in Clear Lake, Wis., and was 89 years old 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 planned a nationwide demonstration—called Earth Day—to be held in the spring of 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."
The Earth has warmed by about one degree over the past 100 years. Some think the Earth is getting warmer on its own, but many scientists around the world agree that humans are making the Earth warmer.
What happens when the Earth gets warmer?
Scientists think climate change is caused by the greenhouse effect. Certain gases, like carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor, trap the sun's rays in our atmosphere. Our atmosphere is like a blanket that helps trap the sun's heat near the surface of the Earth. Buildup of greenhouse gases prevents the heat from escaping back into space, causing the Earth to warm at an unnatural rate. Many scientists believe this is the cause of climate change.
Human causes of climate change include:
Whether it's to reduce carbon emissions from gas-powered vehicles or to power your ride with renewable energy, like wind and solar, electric vehicles (EVs) are a super cool choice!
More and more modes of transportation are going electric. It's an amazing transformation that is gaining speed and traction!
An EV is powered by an electric motor rather than a gasoline or diesel engine. While some newer EVs have their own distinctive exterior designs, you'll really notice the difference under the hood.
How far can I go?
EVs are now available that can travel more than 200 miles on a charge. Automotive engineers are working on technology to help extend the range of EVs.
Visit mge.com/lovev for stories and information about EVs!
Q‐How long does it take to charge an electric car?
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 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.
MGE has installed photovoltaic systems on area high schools and community sites to create more awareness of renewable energy. Visit mge.com/solarschools for more information.
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 panels convert light into electricity, which is why they work in the cold and even with indirect sun.
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 collected also can be used to heat a building.
Aldo Leopold Nature CenterBike Path Lighting
Dane County Arena
Dane County Henry Vilas ZooMorey Field Solar
Lussier Family Heritage Center
Madison Children's MuseumOlbrich Gardens Solar Flair Solar Parking Canopy at MGE State Capitol
UW-Madison ArboretumMunicipal Operations Center (Middleton)
Dane County Airport Solar
O'Brien Solar Fields (under construction)
See the solar energy generated by the sun firsthand. Work with your teacher and classmates to build this fun & tasty Solar Hot Dog Cooker.Click for instructions »
Shared 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's Municipal Operations Center in 2016 and another array at the Middleton Municipal Airport (Morey Field) in 2020. MGE customers sign up for the program to help foster growth of locally generated solar energy. The clean, renewable solar electricity generated through Shared Solar helps the environment by reducing CO2 emissions.
Wind turbines capture the wind's energy with propeller-like blades 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 U.S. 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.
In the U.S., the top five states that generate the most wind electricity are Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, and Illinois. 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.
Learn more about wind power at eia.gov.
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's newest 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 households 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.
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 clean energy. (And it shares tips for saving energy as well!)
Visit mge.com/towerpower to learn about wind energy.
MGE is committed to building a smarter, cleaner energy future for all of us. We have set goals to reduce carbon emissions and produce more of our energy from renewable sources.
MGE's website, mge2050.com, 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.
Another website, Living in Balance Madison, helps promote green living and environmentally friendly practices by engaging families like yours in clean energy and energy-saving tips and programs.
MGE also partners with Focus on Energy®, Wisconsin's energy efficiency and renewable resource program. Focus on Energy can help you determine how to improve your household's energy efficiency. For example, an energy audit can identify things to do to improve the comforts of home while saving energy and money. Visit focusonenergy.com to order a free energy-saving pack for your home!
We work to serve all our customers and partner with many non-English-speaking communities to empower everyone with good information to use energy wisely.
MGE oversees a connected grid where technologies like solar and wind energy, as well as power generated by utility plants, work together as a system. The utility company acts as a "conductor" to manage the flow of energy generated and back out to power our schools, homes and businesses.
Solar energy is renewable energy produced by the sun. It comes to Earth in the form of visible light and infrared radiation. Solar energy can be harnessed in a variety of ways to heat homes and businesses, heat water, grow plants and produce electricity.
Q‐What kind of tiles are on the roof of Clark Street Community School?
Q‐ is produced by heating and cooling on the Earth's surface
Wind energy is a clean, renewable energy source produced by the daily cooling and heating patterns on the surface of the earth. Wind energy can be harnessed to produce electricity, pump water, grind grain and move sailing vessels.
Where can you plug in? MGE has a network of charging stations around our community. Find the charging station closest to you at mge.com/evcharging.
Q‐How many charging stations are there in the Madison area?
The Amazon rainforest experienced a massive fire in 2019, wiping out 7,200 square miles of one of the most diverse places on earth. Losing so many trees has been devastating to the biggest area of the Earth's lungs.
Q‐Plant a tree on Arbor Day! When is Arbor Day this year?
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?
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?