Employees, Customers and Communities
Meeting our shared sustainability goals requires many different partnerships and collaborations. As your community energy company, we engage our communities, customers and employees. Working together is how we achieve our goals and strengthen our communities.
Sustainability Steering Team
Twenty-five years ago, a small, informal group of MGE employees concerned about the environment laid the groundwork for something bigger. Their efforts evolved into a successful companywide effort to make environmentally responsible choices at work.
From establishing a vehicle idling policy to expanding recycling efforts, MGE’s employee-led Green Team has helped the company achieve milestones in corporate sustainability and responsibility.
Today, our Green Team remains active and strong with a new structure and focus on advancing our history of sustainable practices.
In 2018, MGE transitioned from our employee-led Green Team to our Sustainability Steering Team. The goal is to ensure we are taking a more global approach in proactively growing our culture of sustainability throughout MGE.
Composed of employees from across the company, the Sustainability Steering Team oversees our Environmental Management System (EMS). It also supports external sustainability engagement and benchmarking, such as our participation in the Green Tier and Green Masters programs. Having team members from departments across the company is a more efficient way to gather data for our voluntary sustainability reporting efforts. The Sustainability Steering Team is overseen by our Executive Sustainability Team, which also has representation from across MGE.
Continuous Improvement Sustainability Teams
The Sustainability Steering Team reviews, evaluates and prioritizes continuous improvement opportunities for the company. The group also assembles Continuous Improvement Teams to take on specific improvement initiatives and tasks.
Our first Continuous Improvement Sustainability Team is overseeing the expansion of our EMS to cover all of MGE’s operations. An EMS is a continuous improvement process that evaluates, prioritizes and manages environmental risks. MGE previously used an EMS at our Blount Generating Station. The expanded scope of our EMS will capture environmental improvements across the company. It also further demonstrates our commitment to goal-setting and environmental accountability.
Our first Continuous Improvement Sustainability Team also helped to update our Environmental and Sustainability Policy. The team worked to include a broader concept of sustainability in the corporate policy that also would better capture and define how MGE seeks to practice sustainability within the company and throughout the communities we serve.
Battery recycling project
Our second Continuous Improvement Sustainability Team was developed with the goal to review and recommend improvements to recycling and source reduction in the office.
The team’s first task is improving the process and efficiency of alkaline battery recycling. Unlike rechargeable batteries, alkaline batteries are nonhazardous and difficult to recycle. We want a way to continue to recycle these batteries from MGE operations and continue to allow employees to bring them from home. The team has begun work to develop a system that takes less time and allows for safe storage and transportation.
Wisconsin Monarch Collaborative
Monarch butterflies face many risks that are causing a serious decline in their populations. According to the Wisconsin Monarch Collaborative, in the last 20 years, the eastern North American monarch butterfly population has declined by 90%.
One of the biggest impacts on the monarch population is the loss of habitat for breeding, migrating and overwintering. Pesticides used to control insects and weeds also have harmful consequences for monarchs. The loss of habitat is forcing changes in migratory patterns.
Created in 2017, the Wisconsin Monarch Collaborative is working to create and implement a statewide monarch conservation strategy that covers habitat creation and enhancement, education and outreach, and research and monitoring. MGE is proud to be part of the Wisconsin Monarch Collaborative, including serving on the Rights-of-Way Working Group.
Importance of pollinators
In addition to monarchs, MGE also is working to help protect pollinators. Pollinators play an important role in ensuring that the fruits, vegetables and other plant products we eat make it to our tables. One out of every three bites of food we eat is because of pollinators.
Pollinating animals travel from plant to plant carrying pollen on their bodies in a vital interaction that allows plants to create fruits, nuts and other edible parts. The vast majority of pollinators in the United States are insects such as bees, butterflies, moths, beetles and even some wasps. Other pollinators include birds, bats and other small mammals.
Support for pollinator habitat
Utilities are in a unique position to help support pollinator habitat. They can protect existing habitat and create new habitat along rights-of-way and on other owned facilities. MGE’s Badger Hollow Solar Farm, Two Creeks Solar, O’Brien Solar Fields and Dane County Airport Solar will host pollinator habitat after construction is complete.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is currently working with utilities to draft voluntary Monarch Candidate conservation agreements to help protect the monarch butterfly. These conservation agreements would help the monarch and other pollinator species while allowing utilities to continue to maintain and upgrade their facilities. MGE already actively protects the rusty patched bumble bee by supporting the replacement of habitat when we install and maintain our electric and gas lines.
MGE’s pollinator habitat
In 2019, MGE employees planted wildflowers in two flower beds at our downtown Madison campus. We worked with the University of Wisconsin-Extension to plant native wildflowers that will help attract bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.
Employee engagement and development
The energy world is ever-changing. We believe it’s important to engage our employees as our industry evolves. MGE is committed to sustainable workforce practices, such as career development and training.
The Learning Center
MGE offers all employees the opportunity to learn and grow—whether it is to become more proficient in their job, improve decision-making skills or prepare for a move to another role. Our employees have the tools available to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to grow and to be successful.
The Learning Center is an online resource available to all MGE employees. Launched in 2017, this cloud-based tool contains a vast library of thousands of courses for online learning. It recommends training courses for employees based on the courses they’ve already taken and subjects in which they have shown interest, and it provides a transcript of courses they have taken in The Learning Center as well as corporate training they attend.
The Learning Center is constantly updated with courses relevant to MGE employees. This helps ensure employees are equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively navigate our changing industry.
Since The Learning Center was launched, MGE employees have attended more than 27,000 training sessions.
One of the most recent additions to The Learning Center is the Strength page. This page is dedicated to information about inclusion, diversity, discrimination and harassment. Employees can find courses, articles, podcasts and more. The page is updated regularly to remain current.
A culture of diversity and inclusion
At MGE, we value equity, diversity and inclusion. MGE promotes an inclusive, respectful work environment where individuals and groups can achieve their full potential. We support all employees and provide equitable access to employment and development opportunities.
Our goal is to create a healthy, inclusive, safe and productive work environment for all. All employees are responsible for assisting MGE in meeting the objectives of our diversity and inclusion policy as well as supporting the concepts of equal opportunity and affirmative action. We believe our collective differences make us stronger and more complete, both within MGE and throughout our community.
One of our corporate initiatives aims to ensure our increasingly diverse customers and employees experience us as "their" community energy company. Through an executive-led working group with representation from across the company, we continue our focus on customer communication and engagement as well as skills development and training to further promote an inclusive and respectful work environment to better serve our customers and communities.
Every employee at MGE experiences programming around a wide range of topics including diversity, harassment and our Code of Ethics. Employees who witness any harassment or discrimination issues are encouraged to bring them to the attention of Human Resources or file a report using our anonymous employee hotline.
Code of Ethics
As outlined in MGE’s Code of Ethics, employees are expected to comply with all laws and regulations and to act in accordance with the highest ethical standards in matters with each other, customers, vendors and those who do business with or seek to do business with MGE. All employees sign the Code of Ethics when they are hired, and a reaffirmation of the Code of Ethics is required every year.
Freedom of association
We comply with all federal, state and local employment ordinances. We also adhere to principles and norms that protect human rights in employment, including the freedom of association and the freedom to bargain collectively.
MGE recognizes its employees’ right to organize and engage in collective bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act. The MGE workforce is represented by three different unions:
- International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 2304
- United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, Local 2006, Unit 6
- Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 39
The unionized workforce comprises 45% of MGE’s total workforce, far exceeding the average private sector unionization rate in the United States of 6.2%.
Customer and community engagement
As your community energy company, we seek to engage all our customers in many different ways. We work to ensure all our customers experience us as “their” community energy company. Understanding the barriers our customers may face and meeting them “where they are” is at the core of our mission.
We recognize that customers have varied needs and that the communities we serve are continually growing and becoming more richly diverse. We work to develop culturally competent initiatives and communications for our customers. Our dedication to understanding our customers and meeting their unique needs is reflected in how we engage, support and partner with those we serve.
Engaging our communities
MGE has two departments, Residential and Community Services and Commercial and Industrial Marketing, dedicated to specific customer segments and community relations within those segments. Each department has employees assigned to specific customer segments including Latino customers, Hmong customers, neighborhood associations, advocacy organizations, communities of faith, limited-income customers, multifamily customers, agricultural customers, nonprofits, state and local government, hospitals, major customers and others.
MGE maintains relationships with more than 20 specific sectors in our community and works closely with community organizations to reach customers who may be more difficult to reach directly due to either language or cultural barriers or other reasons. MGE seeks to engage all customer segments by having account managers and community or residential services managers to build relationships.
Supporting our neighborhoods
Vibrant neighborhoods—and the active neighborhood associations that serve them—contribute to the quality of life in our community. Throughout the Madison area, festivals and community activities like concerts, picnics and potlucks help neighborhood associations raise funds for important local projects and provide community-driven, family-friendly activities.
MGE has been a longtime partner to many of the neighborhood associations across our service territory. Sponsoring events and staffing booths with our energy experts allow us to meet customers where they are to provide energy efficiency tips and information on driving and charging electric vehicles and to discuss how programs such as Green Power Tomorrow and Shared Solar are convenient and effective ways for customers to support the growth of clean energy.
In 2020, most neighborhood events were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, MGE’s Residential and Community Services department continued to connect with neighborhood associations and other organizations via virtual meetings, neighborhood newsletter articles and advertising, social media and phone. The team reached out proactively early in the pandemic so the associations knew MGE was still accessible and ready to serve as a trusted community resource. Learn more about MGE’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Connecting with our communities of color
To help us connect with our evolving multicultural customer base, MGE’s Residential and Community Services team worked to develop culturally competent digital resources that integrate social media, web content and videos to serve our communities of color. At livinginbalancemadison.com, MGE shares stories and videos from our Residential and Community Services team, community leaders, customers and local businesses about what it means to be sustainable and how MGE is working together with customers to meet shared sustainability goals.
MGE hosts a family of websites to meet the needs of our diverse customer base. Learn more about our online resources under “Meeting customers where they are” in the Strategy and Climate section.
MGE is committed to supporting family-friendly activities that help us engage with our customers directly and create enriching experiences for all of those we serve. For example, MGE’s Día de Fútbol has become an annual event each fall at Madison’s Breese Stevens Field. The partnership among MGE, Forward Madison FC and La Movida Radio provides the community a chance to enjoy free youth soccer clinics and scrimmages, food, music and information from MGE’s energy experts. From electric and natural gas safety to energy efficiency tips and EVs, families have an opportunity to interact with our energy experts and get answers to their energy-related questions.
Engaging customers through workshops
In fall 2019, as winter heating season approached, MGE conducted a targeted engagement effort to help educate customers about managing their energy use and to make them aware of energy assistance resources. Working with community centers, churches and nonprofits, our energy experts hosted workshops in various neighborhoods to talk one-on-one with customers to learn about their needs. At the workshops, MGE and a local nonprofit provided tips and strategies for conserving energy, helped attendees navigate our websites to find conservation information and connect to local resources, and gave attendees free kits from Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program.
Engaging future generations and advancing diversity in the energy industry
MGE is working to advance diversity in the energy industry by partnering with local organizations to provide educational career-oriented programming for area youth. These events, programs and partnerships help to introduce energy-related careers to students with backgrounds underrepresented in the industry.
MGE Career Ambassadors
Every year, several Madison high school students spend six weeks at MGE over the summer as part of MGE’s Career Ambassador Program, now in its fifth year. The Career Ambassador Program is a pre-college program to help local high school students from partnering organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, Centro Hispano and 100 Black Men of Madison. The students learn about the utility business and utility-related career opportunities and gain experience in the workforce. In 2020, MGE continued the program, hosting its first fully virtual Career Ambassador experience.
MGE hosts college interns throughout the year in a variety of departments, providing them with valuable skills to advance their career. Giving local students exposure to careers in energy also benefits MGE. Several past and present MGE employees started their careers with us as college interns.
For the last four years, STEAM Camp has become a summertime activity at MGE. Dozens of middle school students participate in the weeklong camp typically held at sites across Madison. STEAM Camp engages the students in educational pathways that lead to careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020’s STEAM Camp was held virtually.
MGE employees helped STEAM Camp participants learn how MGE uses the sun to make electricity and how we keep the lights on and the gas flowing. They also learned about STEAM careers in the utility industry. Strang Architects of Madison partners with the Urban League of Greater Madison to bring STEAM Camp to MGE and other local organizations.
In fall 2019, MGE helped more than 5,000 Dane County middle school students learn about exciting careers in the energy industry at FutureQuest 2019. A joint effort by the Dane County School Consortium and the Madison Metropolitan School District, FutureQuest is a hands-on experience for students to explore potential interests within 16 career cluster pathways. MGE was grouped with other members of the Wisconsin Energy Workforce Consortium, providing information on different careers in the energy industry.
In fall 2020, MGE participated in a virtual FutureQuest experience with videos and panels of professionals leading question-and-answer sessions with the students.
Community education outreach
MGE connects with thousands of students annually through various programs, events and other activities, providing utility-based education to students across our service territory, both in and out of the classroom. Topic areas range from energy efficiency and sustainability to safety and careers.
MGE also supports opportunities for teachers through Wisconsin’s K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP). KEEP was established in 1995 to improve and increase energy education in Wisconsin. The collaborative effort offers professional development opportunities for certified teachers in the state. Teachers whose schools are located in MGE’s gas and electric service area can receive partial scholarships from MGE to offset the cost of coursework.
We also have made available to area teachers Energy Skill Builder Programs, which included self-contained, full-color student books covering specific energy topics. For the 2019-2020 school year, which was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, about 200 elementary and middle school teachers in MGE’s service territory requested packets to serve thousands of students.
We also offer several popular loaned educational resources including our Pedal Power bike, Solar Oven, Watts Up electricity consumption meters and a mini photovoltaic kit. These resources are designed as supplemental classroom aids or are used at community events to engage young people in energy efficiency, conservation and clean energy. They are promoted through our Powerline teacher newsletter, which publishes each fall and spring to provide information about MGE’s resources, tools, programs and presentations for area schools.
EV field trip
As our industry evolves, our educational programming and opportunities for young people also evolve. In fall 2019, MGE hosted engineering and consumer automotive students from James Madison Memorial High School. The visit to MGE to learn about electric vehicles (EV) and EV charging was part of a daylong field trip jointly organized by the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), Madison College, the City of Madison Fleet Service team and MGE. Students spent the day learning about MGE’s charging network and solar arrays, riding in an EV and hearing from the City of Madison Fleet Service team why the City is adding EVs to its fleet and what is involved in maintaining EVs.
MGE continues to work with MMSD teachers and staff to bring an EV curriculum into the schools. The program uses real-world EV charging station data to help students learn about sustainability, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and sustainable transportation.
Science on the Square
In 2019, MGE’s energy experts joined the Wisconsin Science Festival for the second consecutive year for Science on the Square, located on the Capitol Square in downtown Madison. MGE’s hands-on exhibit featured information on clean energy, EVs and electric safety. Science on the Square is part of the annual statewide Wisconsin Science Festival. MGE is proud to support the four-day celebration of learning.
MGE’s commitment to those we serve extends far beyond reliable energy. We are committed to helping improve the quality of life for all of those we serve. We contribute to and help to better our community in three different ways.
The MGE Foundation
Established in 1967, the MGE Foundation is our philanthropic arm. Support from the Foundation helps our local organizations improve lives today and the lives of future generations by working to preserve the long-term health and vitality of our community. In the last five years, the Foundation has given more than $6.1 million to more than 400 community organizations. In 2019 alone, the Foundation contributed to more than 200 local organizations serving environment and health, culture and enrichment, equity and inclusion, youth and education, and community service-oriented initiatives.
MGE corporate giving
MGE collaborates and works together with hundreds of organizations to provide service, help improve lives, tackle challenges and seize opportunities facing our community. We partner with local stakeholders in a variety of ways to advance shared goals and initiatives.
Employee volunteerism and service
Our dedicated employees embody what it means to serve as your community energy company. Outside of their jobs at MGE, they play active roles in helping improve our community. Many of our more than 700 employees volunteer on local boards and committees and as members of economic development and nonprofit organizations.
MGE Annual Report on Giving
MGE publishes an Annual Report on Giving, which highlights some of the ways in which we give, partner and work to support the communities we are privileged to serve. Our full report on annual giving is available at mge.com/Foundation.
Partnering to improve our community
MGE is a longtime supporter and partner of the United Way of Dane County. The organization’s extensive reach helps our customers and broader community. The United Way works toward lasting change, sharing MGE’s goal of making our community a better place to live, work and enjoy.
MGE consistently ranks among the top 10 companies in total donations to the United Way. In 2020, MGE and our generous employees and retirees gave more than $280,000 to the local campaign. MGE employees also serve on various United Way boards, committees and Leadership Giving groups, helping to set the direction and address the needs facing our community.
A healthy economy contributes to a healthy community. MGE is committed to continued growth and a thriving economy in the greater Madison region. We partner with business, education and government leaders to ensure our area businesses have the resources and connections they need to start, stay competitive and grow with the region. MGE helps businesses get access to financing, increase profitability and connect with business resources within the region.
MGE recently made a commitment to the Winnow Fund, a Madison-based venture capital fund dedicated to helping launch new products out of Wisconsin colleges, universities and early-stage companies. The Winnow Fund is the first and only Wisconsin-based, woman-led venture fund that is actively investing in Wisconsin. It is specific to Wisconsin companies, student inventors and entrepreneurs.
Kiva City Madison
In 2019, Kiva Greater Madison launched. Kiva has been empowering entrepreneurs through crowd-funded microloans since 2005. A majority of Kiva loans go to women, people of color, immigrants, veterans and limited-income individuals. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kiva offered zero-interest loans without fees to help smaller businesses in our community weather the public health emergency.
MGE, the City of Madison, Doyenne Group (an organization that supports female entrepreneurs) and the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation partnered to bring a local chapter of the international nonprofit organization to the Madison area. MGE sees Kiva as a way to support underserved entrepreneurs in the Madison area. The MGE Foundation contributed to a three-year pilot project to make the Madison area a Kiva City.
MGE is a neighbor of StartingBlock Madison, the entrepreneurial hub serving the city’s growing entrepreneurial and start-up communities. It offers affordable and flexible workspaces, business resources and a collaborative atmosphere to help grow emerging companies into successful businesses that drive innovation and stimulate the local economy.
MGE is a proud partner and supporter of StartingBlock and other efforts to grow our economy and accelerate innovation. MGE brings resources and expertise to support the area’s economic development. The MGE Foundation contributed to help make StartingBlock a reality.
Since 2009, peregrine falcons have nested at our Blount Generating Station in downtown Madison, Wis. Man-made nesting boxes at power plants have proven ideal homes for the birds of prey, which are an endangered species in Wisconsin. The use of DDT pesticide beginning in the 1940s eradicated them.
Falcons were reintroduced to Wisconsin in the 1980s, and while they are listed as endangered in Wisconsin, they have made a slow, steady comeback due to statewide efforts and nesting boxes like the one at Blount. The original nesting box at Blount was installed in 1999. It was built by an MGE employee and his son. In fall 2018, due to renovations at Blount, employees built a new falcon box and moved it to a new location at the plant, which the falcons began using for nesting in 2019.
MGE has seen 46 falcons hatch at Blount, including the 2020 chicks. Falcon expert Greg Septon visits Blount every spring for our naming ceremony during which the chicks also are banded for tracking throughout their lifetimes. For more information on MGE’s falcons, visit mge.com/falcons.
MGE is proud to support the ongoing recovery of these raptors through our nesting box and support from the MGE Foundation for Hoo’s Woods Raptor Center, a local nonprofit dedicated to the rehabilitation of birds of prey and the preservation of their ecosystems.