Employees, Customers and Communities
- Our employee-led Sustainability Steering Team takes a global approach to growing our culture of sustainability, including by identifying opportunities for improvement in our processes and prioritizing those opportunities for our Continuous Improvement Sustainability Teams.
- We engage, involve and empower each employee on the job site at MGE. Our Stop Work Authority program focuses on respect for each employee’s opinions of whether or not a job is safe to proceed.
- MGE’s unionized workforce makes up 44.5% of our total workforce. That percentage exceeds the average private sector unionization rate in the United States of 6.3%. Three different unions represent MGE employees.
- MGE recognizes that customers have varied needs and that the communities we serve are growing and becoming more richly diverse. MGE continually works to develop culturally competent initiatives and communications for our customers.
- MGE works to advance diversity in the energy industry by partnering with local organizations to provide educational career-oriented programming for area youth, including events, programs and partnerships to introduce energy-related careers to students with backgrounds underrepresented in the utility industry.
- In the last five years, our philanthropic arm, the MGE Foundation, has given more than $6.7 million to more than 400 community organizations.
- In 2020, MGE received the United Way of Dane County’s Innovation Award for our annual fundraising campaign, which went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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
More than 25 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 take a global and proactive approach to 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 has officer 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 Sustainability Teams to address specific improvement initiatives and tasks.
Expanding the company’s EMS
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 captures environmental improvements across the company. It also further demonstrates our commitment to goal-setting and environmental accountability. See the Safety and Operations section of this report for more information about our EMS.
Updating battery recycling processes
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 was improving the process and efficiency of alkaline battery recycling. Alkaline batteries are difficult to recycle, but recycling batteries keeps metals out of landfills and helps avoid fire hazards at recycling centers.
The team developed a system that takes less time and allows for safe storage and transportation of batteries. Employees are encouraged to collect alkaline, NiCad and rechargeable batteries and drop them off at one of the collection points located around the MGE campus. Rechargeable, NiCad and button batteries must be taped or bagged prior to collection and put in specially marked containers, which are visible and accessible throughout the MGE campus. The team also developed a new Battery Recycling course for employees to take online.
The next steps for the team will be to review MGE’s office recycling practices and determine what is working well and where there are opportunities for improvement.
Combating the decline of monarchs
Monarch butterfly populations in the United States have seen substantial declines in their population the last few decades. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) data from the mid-1990s to recent years shows that monarch populations have declined by more than 90% and are reaching population levels that are threatening their survival as a species.
One of the biggest impacts on the monarch population is the loss of habitat for breeding, migrating and overwintering. The monarch butterfly needs habitat for both its caterpillar and adult populations. Adult monarchs feed on the nectar from many flowering plants throughout the growing season, but they breed only in areas where milkweed is found. Milkweed is critical for their survival. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed and their caterpillars are dependent on milkweed as a food source during their development. Milkweed is native to Wisconsin and can be found almost anywhere wildflowers grow throughout the state.
A protection agreement
Since monarchs migrate, they need to be able to find suitable habitat throughout their migration pathway. Increased development, fragmented habitat and intentional removal of milkweed all contribute to an overall reduction in habitat. One way the USFWS is working to address this is through the development of a voluntary agreement with utility companies and departments of transportation in the states where monarchs are found.
The voluntary agreement, called the Monarch Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (Monarch CCAA), is designed to increase monarch habitat throughout their migratory range using transportation and utility properties, such as rights-of-way and generation facilities, to plant monarch-friendly milkweed and flowering plants. The agreement allows utilities flexibility for further growth and protection against future monarch regulatory obligations in exchange for agreeing to maintain and/or create monarch habitat on a certain percentage of their properties.
The Monarch CCAA also supports other pollinators, such as native bees. Land dedicated to the CCAA will have flowering plants from spring to fall, which many native bee populations need to thrive.
MGE providing habitat
MGE has been increasing our efforts to provide habitat for monarchs and pollinators at our facilities. Some MGE solar generation sites include plans for native plants, including milkweed. We are taking inventory of what habitat we have planted and planned, and we’re looking for opportunities to expand where it makes sense. Our habitat conservation efforts at these solar sites are a good fit since we have space around and even under the solar arrays that would otherwise be turfgrass.
MGE also continues to review whether the Monarch CCAA is a good fit for our monarch and pollinator commitments.
A culture of diversity, equity and inclusion
At MGE, we value diversity, equity 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 our objectives around diversity and inclusion as well as supporting the concepts of equal opportunity and affirmative action. We believe our collective diversity makes 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 and human rights
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 44.5% of MGE’s total workforce, far exceeding the average private sector unionization rate in the United States of 6.3%.
Inclusion and empowerment in our safety program
Our journey to safety excellence is guided by our Safety Steering Team (SST), which is made up of employees. The SST meets regularly to examine safety topics and to identify and to prioritize continuous improvement opportunities. It oversees the creation of our Continuous Improvement Safety Teams (CI Teams), which are employee-led teams made up of personnel directly impacted by the projects.
Employees lead monthly large group and small group safety meetings. Field crews hold daily safe-start job briefings or “tailboards” at individual job sites. These briefings focus on hazard awareness and job-specific safety. They engage, involve and empower each employee on the job site and establish accountability.
MGE’s Stop Work Authority program specifically addresses differences utilizing a “Speak Up Listen Up” safety training. This training focuses on respect for each employee’s opinions of whether or not a job is safe to proceed. Specifically, the training encourages workers to speak up if they are unsure whether a job should proceed. The training also emphasizes that employees need to listen to a coworker’s concerns and respect the idea that each employee has the right and the obligation to use Stop Work Authority if there is a question that needs to be answered. The process trains our workforce to respect the value everyone brings to the job.
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. We support employees by providing the right tools—learning and content—needed to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to grow and be successful and ensure MGE has a workforce that is knowledgeable, prepared and high-performing so it can deliver on our goals and objectives.
The Learning Center is an online resource available to all MGE employees. Launched in 2017, this cloud-based tool contains a vast library of courses available to employees 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 and now has more than 5,000 courses available and nearly 200 curated playlists. This helps ensure employees are equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively navigate our changing industry.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, The Learning Center was ready. More than 2,000 new courses were added in 2020 including toolkits for working from home and leading remotely; new training on COVID-19; and safety, mental health, stress management, resilience and well-being.
Since The Learning Center was launched, MGE employees have attended nearly 44,000 training sessions. That includes instructor-led training, online training and video training.
Between August 2020 and August 2021, employees completed more than 9,500 online courses and watched about 3,000 training and development videos. The Learning Center launched an app, giving employees access to more than 1,000 courses from their mobile devices.
Staying connected while working remotely
Using the tools available in The Learning Center, we created an online employee community to help employees stay connected and engage with each other while working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. All employees have access and are welcome to participate in the Remote Work Community. It is a place for social collaboration, connecting with others and sharing information. The Remote Work Community has subtopics for employees, including tips for working remotely, leading remotely, working remotely with kids and pets, and a “just for fun” area where employees can post about anything.
The Learning Center has a section dedicated to information about inclusion, diversity, discrimination and harassment. In the Stronger Together section, employees can find courses, articles, podcasts and more. The page is updated regularly to remain current.
Learning from other businesses and industries
For several years, MGE has partnered with the University of Wisconsin E-Business Consortium (UWEBC). Created in 1998, the UWEBC brings together employees from all levels of leading Wisconsin companies to learn from each other.
The UWEBC focuses its efforts in four areas critical to a diverse range of businesses: customer service, information technology, marketing and supply chain management. Events are structured to bring together people from different industries in the following formats: topic-centered peer groups, special interest groups and member-to-member advising. Support for the UWEBC from MGE gives our employees the opportunity to grow and learn by participating in UWEBC events and programming.
MGE's Healthy Rewards program rewards employees for participating regularly in healthy activities and learning about their health risks. In 2020, 50% of employees registered and tracked their progress through ManageWell.
Committed to employee wellness
We encourage employees across the company to make health and wellness a priority. Good health brings vitality and energy to our work lives and our home lives. One of the ways we have worked to keep things as close to normal as possible for employees during the COVID-19 pandemic has been to provide virtually many of the same opportunities that existed at MGE facilities prior to the pandemic.
MGE’s Healthy Rewards program offers many opportunities throughout the year for employees to take charge of their health. Employees can take fitness classes and work out in an on-site fitness center and attend Power Lunches with guest speakers covering topics such as healthy eating, meditation, stress management, financial well-being and mental well-being during a pandemic.
With many employees working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been able to move many of our popular wellness and fitness classes online to enable participation from home. Our Power Lunches also have moved online.
MGE also partners with ManageWell®, which serves as a personal, confidential online health management portal for employees. They can take a health assessment each year, track activity toward Healthy Rewards goals and take advantage of the many healthy living tools available at managewell.com.
Ergonomic assessments for office personnel
Several years ago, MGE began a partnership with Briotix Health, a workplace injury prevention sports medicine provider that employs athletic trainers. The trainers teach employees how to properly warm up and stretch before performing physically demanding work. This partnership also serves office employees.
Our athletic trainers’ schedule includes weekly hours in our general office specifically for employees who work in an office setting. During the COVID-19 pandemic, with many employees working remotely, the trainers’ office hours are virtual. It allows office-based employees to gain a better understanding of ergonomics, how their bodies work and ways to reduce discomfort while working. Consultations are not limited to work-related injuries. The majority of the consultations involve non-work-related injuries or issues.
Maintaining work-life balance
MGE offers a variety of benefit plans to fit our employees’ needs—from health and dental insurance to retirement and work-life balance.
Work-life balance is an important part of a healthy work environment. Maintaining work-life balance helps reduce stress and helps prevent burnout in the workplace. MGE understands how critical it is for our employees to maintain a good work-life balance. We understand that balancing the challenges of work and home can be overwhelming at times. This is why we have an Employee Assistance Program, which provides confidential resources for employees and offers professional counselors free of charge to talk to 24 hours a day. Courses are available in The Learning Center to explore work-life balance, what it is and how to maintain it. These courses are available to all employees.
MGE scholarship program
MGE is proud to offer a scholarship program to MGE employees and retirees to assist with their children’s higher education. The Madison Gas and Electric Company Scholarship Program awards partial scholarships for postsecondary education at any accredited school in the United States. These scholarships are funded by MGE and administered by a third party. The awards are renewable for up to three years or until a bachelor’s degree is obtained, if students maintain a 2.5 cumulative grade point average. The MGE Scholarship program has awarded $1,197,000 to students since it began in 1999.
MGE’s Healthy Rewards program rewards employees for participating regularly in healthy activities and learning about their health risks. In 2020, 50% of employees registered and tracked their progress through ManageWell.
Engaging our employees
We engage our employees in a number of ways with various media and technology to keep them informed about what’s happening across the company, the industry and the communities we serve. From company initiatives and projects to our strategies for achieving net-zero carbon electricity and important employee benefits information, we strive to keep employees informed and engaged by providing them with clear, timely and relevant information.
In summer 2021, we conducted an employee communications survey to help us better understand how we can continue to meet their communications needs and preferences. The results show many employees are engaged and appreciate the flow of information they receive.
Employee satisfaction scored a 4.2 out of 5 for overall satisfaction with the ways we communicate with them. About 85% of employees also feel that the amount of communication they receive from the company is the right amount and 81% say they are consistently up-to-date on news and updates about MGE.
Employees especially appreciate the regular video messages from Chairman, President and CEO Jeff Keebler. These video messages began in April 2020 after our remote-enabled employees began working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The video messages, emailed to all employees and posted on MGE’s employee intranet, cover everything from the pandemic’s impact on our work patterns to new renewable energy projects and customer programs as well as messages of appreciation from customers for our employees, among other topics.
Using the information learned from the survey, we will continue our efforts to keep employees informed and engaged and challenge ourselves to find more ways to communicate with them most efficiently and effectively.
Engaging and serving our diverse customer base
As your community energy company, we seek to engage all our customers in a variety of ways. We work to ensure all 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, communications and services 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.
MGE has two departments, Residential and Community Services and Commercial and Industrial Marketing, dedicated to specific customer segments and community relationships and partnerships within those segments. Each department has employees assigned to specific customer segments, including Latino customers, Hmong customers, neighborhood associations, advocacy organizations, communities of faith, lower-income customers, multifamily customers, agricultural customers, nonprofits, state and local governments, hospitals, major customers and others.
MGE maintains relationships with more than 20 specific sectors in our community and works closely with more than 200 local organizations and community stakeholders 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 Residential and Community Services managers to build relationships.
Connecting with our diverse communities
MGE is committed to serving and connecting our richly diverse communities through a myriad of partnerships and engagement strategies.
To help us stay connected with our evolving multicultural customer base, MGE’s Residential and Community Services team develops 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 and partners with local groups to connect with Spanish- and Hmong-speaking customers, including through Facebook.
MGE also 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. Cancelled due to COVID-19 in 2020, Día de Fútbol returned in fall 2021.
Advancing diversity through future generations
MGE works 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 utility industry.
MGE Career Ambassadors
Every summer, several Madison high school students spend six weeks at MGE as part of our Career Ambassador Program, now through its sixth 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, the Urban League of Greater Madison, 100 Black Men of Madison and Maydm. The students learn about the utility business and utility-related career opportunities and gain experience in the workforce. After being completely virtual in 2020, MGE continued the Career Ambassador program in 2021, with a mostly virtual experience. The students learned about renewable energy, electric vehicles, sustainability, compliance, engineering, marketing, human resources and operations careers.
Since 2017, 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 ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 2021’s STEAM Camp was held virtually.
MGE employees helped STEAM Camp participants learn how MGE is growing our use of renewable energy and how we keep the lights on and the gas flowing for our customers. 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.
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.
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.
We also support 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.
MGE also offers 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.
Celebrating Arbor Day with local students
MGE celebrates Arbor Day annually with students at Shorewood Hills Elementary School. After being cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a scaled-back version of the Village of Shorewood Hill’s Arbor Day celebration returned in 2021.
MGE helped purchase three trees (a musclewood, a sugar maple and a tulip tree) that were planted on and near school grounds. Students and volunteers also participated in a tree walk, celebrating all of the trees MGE has helped plant through the years. A local arborist who lives in the village demonstrated how to perform young tree pruning and talked to the students about the importance of helping develop strong tree structure while trees are young.
The year marks MGE’s 16th year of participation in the Shorewood Hills Arbor Day celebration.
What customers are saying about MGE
MGE works hard to anticipate customers’ needs and exceed their expectations. While how we serve and connect with customers has evolved—and continues to evolve—over time, our commitment to delivering a positive customer experience remains steadfast. To us, the customer experience is not about one interaction with MGE; rather, it’s a culmination of all the interactions a customer has with us.
We take our responsibility to our customers seriously and measure customer satisfaction annually to help monitor how customers experience us. In our surveys throughout the last 10 years, MGE has consistently received high scores, demonstrating that both residential and business customers have remained relatively satisfied with MGE’s overall performance.
We often receive emails, letters and phone calls from customers recognizing great customer and community service by MGE employees. The following are just a few examples of the many notes we received in 2020 and 2021.
I wanted to share my immense gratitude for two of your workers who were working across the street when I accidentally fell out of my wheelchair and whistled for them and waved them over. I hurt my shoulder and was unable to get back up in my chair and they helped me. Please if you know who these awesome men are extend my sincere appreciation.
I just want to thank MGE for the great customer service I’ve received for the last 65 years. You are fabulous and I appreciate all that MGE does for its customers. Thank you!
I want to thank you for being so kind and patient with me. Each time I talk to any of you I always feel respected, regardless of the topic.
Gary & Joan:
We just wanted to pass along how pleased we were with our meter relocation project at our residence. Each person on the team was very thorough and professional. We were very happy with the work done.
Just want to say thank you to the MGE workers who were out in the neighborhood working through the night cleaning up after the storm last night. They did a great job!
Thank you so much for coming to the rescue of a neighbor’s cat! A group of us tried unsuccessfully all morning to lure her down, so we were thrilled when you arrived with tall ladders and brought her down safely. This was particularly kind of you since the pole she was sitting on does not belong to MGE. Acts of kindness like this are indications of a company’s values, and we were all very impressed by your quick response. Thanks for being such good neighbors!
Supporting the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic
We understand that our customers have varied backgrounds, experiences and needs. As your community energy company, we are committed to meeting our customers where they are, to providing safe and reliable service, and to ensuring they know MGE is here to help in challenging times.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we used multiple channels to reach out to customers, including digital advertising, emails, newsletters, social media, outdoor events, virtual meetings and collaborations with our community partners.
Connecting with our most vulnerable customers
Collaborating with community partners, MGE’s Residential and Community Services (RCS) team conducted research that allows us to identify our most vulnerable customers based on household income and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The RCS team used census tract data, or data based on population characteristics, to identify customers most in need of assistance. Using this data, the team identified three clusters in Madison that have been hit especially hard by the pandemic. By identifying these clusters, the team was able to reach out directly to our community partners in these census tracts for help connecting with impacted customers. For example, a nonprofit organization, community leader, Facebook group or neighborhood church could help us provide information to customers within their community.
To connect with these customers, the RCS team emailed more than 300 community partners to remind them of the services available to customers having trouble paying their utility bills. The communication included information for customers to set up a personalized payment plan if they have fallen behind on their bills. From the email sent to those community partners, we were able to determine the email was accessed or opened more than 9,500 times, enabling MGE to provide important information to our customers during a challenging period for our community.
Helping pay utility bills
MGE also has a longstanding partnership with Energy Services Inc. (ESI) in Dane County. ESI works with lower- income customers who are having trouble staying current on their utility bills, providing assistance to help cover a portion of those bills. MGE also works closely with agencies outside of Dane County to help customers in those areas of our service territory.
MGE supports the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund, which is a statewide nonprofit that also assists lower-income households that are unable to pay their energy bills.
Created in 1985, the MGE Energy Fund also helps customers having a hard time paying their winter heating bills. Donations come from customers, shareholders and MGE employees. In 2020, we received more than $100,000 in donations to the MGE Energy Fund. All of the money raised goes directly to help people in the community. A nonprofit agency distributes the money, and MGE shareholders pay the administrative costs. Each year, the MGE Energy Fund helps about 300 families.
In addition to letting all our customers know we would maintain safe and reliable service throughout the public health emergency, we widely communicated a number of options to help customers who were experiencing hardship, including continuing to work out deferred payment agreements with customers who requested them.
Connecting with our customers
As we work to meet all of our customers where they are, we connect with our diverse customer base in many ways, including through:
- Account representatives, customer service representatives in our local call center, and Residential and Community Services managers
- Customer newsletters, emails and bill inserts
- MGE’s family of websites: mge.com, mge2050.com, mge.com/LovEV, livinginbalancemadison.com, genre2030.com
- Social media: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube
- Culturally competent materials and advertising
- Community energy workshops and events
- GreenView video series
- Major Customer Council meetings for commercial and industrial customers
- More than 200 partnerships with local organizations
- Employee service and volunteerism
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 $6.7 million to more than 400 community organizations. In 2020 alone, the Foundation contributed to more than 150 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 Report on Giving
MGE publishes a 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 giving is available at mge.com/Foundation.
Contributions during the pandemic
We are proud to support the many organizations and community partners that continue to provide increased services directly to community members affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. These groups have been able to positively impact thousands of lives across our community by providing things like food, clothing, school supplies and more.
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.
United Way Innovation Award
MGE received the United Way of Dane County’s Innovation Award for its 2020 United Way campaign. The award honors MGE and its employees for their commitment to raising awareness and resources through creative strategies. MGE’s 2020 campaign was the company’s first-ever virtual campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dane Workforce Housing Fund
Understanding that a lack of affordable housing is one of the more critical issues facing Dane County, the MGE Foundation is supporting the newly created Dane Workforce Housing Fund (DWHF). The DWHF was created by the United Way of Dane County’s Economic Stability Council and the Madison. Development Corporation, a nonprofit that owns and manages affordable housing units in the Madison area and provides financing for hard-to-finance businesses in Dane County.
The DWHF is investing private funds to help increase access to affordable housing in Madison and Dane County. Its primary goals are to:
- Create 500 new affordable workforce housing units in Dane County in the next three years.
- Keep these units affordable for at least 15 years.
- Give a modest rate of return to socially responsible investors.
- Fill a gap in funding without which these workforce units would not be created.
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’s economic development team helps businesses get access to financing, increase profitability and connect with business resources within the region. In addition, our account managers in our Commercial and Industrial Marketing area work with new and existing businesses in a variety of ways, including helping them to expand sustainably, reduce their carbon footprint and manage their energy use.
Support for women entrepreneurs
The Doyenne Group was founded in 2012 with a goal of eliminating the gender gap in the entrepreneurial community. Doyenne believes that when women-led businesses thrive, our entire economy thrives.
Doyenne is working to build a community-wide entrepreneurial ecosystem that invests in the power and potential of women entrepreneurs. Doyenne helps increase the opportunities for women from all backgrounds to access professional development and resources and build lasting connections.
MGE is a proud partner and supporter of the Doyenne Group and its efforts to advance women’s entrepreneurship. We have provided financial support through the MGE Foundation to help further those efforts.
The Doyenne Group’s office is located in StartingBlock Madison, the entrepreneurial hub serving Madison’s growing start-up community. 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 also is a proud partner and supporter of StartingBlock.
Photo courtesy of the Doyenne Group
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 49 falcons hatch at Blount, including the 2021 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.