Clean Energy

Since announcing our Energy 2030 framework in November 2015, we have developed projects that we expect will increase our owned renewable capacity by more than nine times when completed. Growing our use of renewable resources is a part of our strategy for achieving net-zero carbon electricity by 2050.

Our clean energy projects
Map of MGE wind and solar projects
  • Purchasing 100 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity from the Badger Hollow Solar Farm in Iowa County, Wis., Badger Hollow Phase I came online in late 2021; another 50 MW from Phase II is expected online in the first half of 2023.
  • Purchasing 50 MW of solar capacity from the Two Creeks Solar project, which came online in fall 2020. Two Creeks Solar was the first large-scale solar project to be built in Wisconsin. 
  • Bringing online in spring 2021 the 20-MW O’Brien Solar Fields in Fitchburg, Wis. The array serves local companies, the City of Fitchburg, the State of Wisconsin Department of Administration and UW-Madison through our innovative Renewable Energy Rider program.
  • Partnering with Dane County to build a 9-MW solar installation at the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, which came online in late 2020 to serve Dane County operations.
  • Partnering with the City of Madison and the Madison Metropolitan School District to build the 8-MW Hermsdorf Solar Fields in Madison, which came online in spring 2022.
  • Expanding our highly successful community solar program, Shared Solar, with a 5-MW solar array at the Middleton Municipal Airport in Middleton, which came online in 2020.
  • Purchasing 30 MW of solar energy and 16.5 MW of battery storage from the 300-MW Koshkonong Solar Energy Center in Dane County. The solar array is expected online by the end of 2025, if the purchase is approved.
  • Purchasing 25 MW of solar energy and 7.5 MW of battery storage from the 250-MW Darien Solar Energy Center in southeast Wisconsin. The solar array is expected online by the end of 2024, if the purchase is approved.
  • Purchasing 20 MW of solar energy and 11 MW of battery storage from the 200-MW Paris Solar-Battery Park in southeast Wisconsin, which is expected online in 2023.
  • Purchasing 9.16 MW of wind capacity from the 92-MW Red Barn Wind Farm in southwest Wisconsin, which is expected online in late 2022.

Ongoing transition from coal
MGE has no controlling interest in coal-fired resources and announced in 2021 plans to reduce its use of coal substantially by 2030 and to eliminate coal-fired generation from its portfolio by 2035. In 2011, MGE discontinued the use of coal at the only generating facility in which we have sole ownership, our Blount Generating Station.

Transition from coal inforgraphic
In 2018, MGE accelerated the depreciation of certain assets, including our combustion turbines, Blount Generating Station and Columbia Energy Center Unit 1. In early 2021, MGE, as a minority owner, and the co-owners of the Columbia Energy Center announced the planned early retirement of the plant. Both units at Columbia are expected to be retired by mid-2026.

In fall 2021, MGE and the co-owners of the Elm Road Generating Station announced the plant’s planned transition from coal to natural gas. By the end of 2030, MGE expects coal to be used only as a backup fuel at the Elm Road Generating Station, and by 2035, MGE plans to eliminate coal-fired generation from its portfolio.

Resource planning and carbon regulation
When making generation decisions, MGE engages in extensive resource planning analysis and modeling, which consider many factors, including forecasted energy use projections; long-term impacts on customers, investors and the environment; potential future environmental regulations; assumptions related to the anticipated costs of fuel; and many other factors related to energy production. Our economic analysis explicitly includes possible projected carbon emissions limits to help ensure our decisions are financially sound—regardless of whether or how carbon is regulated in the future.

In addition, large new generating facilities are reviewed by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to ensure the projects are in the public interest. For larger projects, different generating scenarios are modeled in our regulatory application to demonstrate the need and to justify the cost. All proposals and decisions by the state regulatory body are part of the public record.

Our generating facilities
  • Badger Hollow Solar Farm, Iowa County (Phase II is expected online in the first half of 2023)
  • Blount Generating Station, Madison
  • Columbia Energy Center, Portage (expected retirement of all units by midyear 2026)
  • Combustion turbines, Madison and Marinette
  • Dane County Airport Solar, Madison
  • Elm Road Generating Station, Oak Creek (expected to transition to natural gas)
  • Forward Energy Center Wind Farm, Dodge and Fond du Lac counties
  • Hermsdorf Solar Fields, Madison
  • Morey Field Solar, Middleton
  • O’Brien Solar Fields, Fitchburg
  • Rosiere Wind Farm, Kewaunee County
  • Saratoga Wind Farm, Howard County, Iowa
  • Shared Solar at the Middleton Operations Center, Middleton
  • Solar photovoltaic units, Dane County
  • Top of Iowa Wind Farm, Worth County, Iowa
  • Two Creeks Solar, Manitowoc County
  • West Campus Cogeneration Facility, Madison
We also purchase power through contracts and from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator market.

Emissions reductions
We have made strides to reduce emissions by installing emission-reduction equipment and improving equipment efficiencies in our current generation fleet. As we work toward our ambitious goal of net-zero carbon electricity by 2050, we continue to make significant investments in local and regional cost-effective renewable generation. Ensuring that new and changing technology serves all customers equitably is one of our key objectives under our Energy 2030 framework. We are working to build a smarter, cleaner community grid that serves to benefit all customers.

Greenhouse gas emissions


Percent decrease 

since 2005 (in mass)

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are calculated from generating units owned by MGE, power purchase agreements and power purchased by MGE on the regional Midcontinent Independent System Operator market. The market purchase emission rate is based on a seven-state regional average CO2 emission profile from all power produced in Wisconsin and the surrounding Midwest states.

Nitrogen oxide (NOx), particulate matter (PM), mercury (Hg) and sulfur dioxide (
SO2) emission rates are calculated from MGE-owned generation assets, including MGE’s share of jointly owned units. MGE is part owner of the Columbia Energy Center, Elm Road Generating Station, West Campus Cogeneration Facility and the Forward Energy Center.  

Edison Electric Institute ESG/sustainability reporting templates
To advance further transparency and disclosure in company operations and governance, MGE participates in the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI) environmental, social and governance (ESG)/sustainability-related reporting templates. The quantitative template includes data related to MGE’s energy portfolio (generation and capacity), emissions, capital expenditures, and human and natural resources. The qualitative template includes information related to our company’s management and oversight of and strategies for our transition toward deep decarbonization and greater sustainability. These templates are voluntary and industry-specific. Find them in our ESG Data Center.

Shared Solar
Shared Solar gives residential and small business customers the option to power their household or business with locally generated solar energy for up to half of their annual energy use. It’s an affordable option for customers who want to support local solar. In 2020, a 5-MW array came online to serve MGE’s community solar program, Shared Solar. Seventy percent of the Morey Field Solar project at Middleton Municipal Airport serves our Shared Solar program. This is the second array for this popular program. The voluntary program began in early 2017 with a 500-kilowatt (kW) array on the roof of the City of Middleton’s Municipal Operations Center.

Renewable Energy Rider
Our Renewable Energy Rider (RER) gives MGE and larger business customers who seek customized renewable energy solutions the opportunity to partner to grow locally generated renewable energy. The innovative program is designed to meet the needs and goals of companies that support or have signed on to the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles, a collaboration facilitated by the World Resources Institute and the World Wildlife Fund. MGE has built nearly 40 MW of solar capacity under RER agreements since earning regulatory approval in 2017 to begin offering this clean energy option.

Green Power Tomorrow
MGE’s long-standing Green Power Tomorrow (GPT) program offers customers a flexible, affordable option for growing their use of green energy. At a penny more per kilowatt-hour (kWh), GPT is a convenient and effective way for customers to support the growth of local and regional renewable energy and offset their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Today, more than 10,300 customers buy green power through this MGE program.

Customer-owned solar
We also work with customers who want to install solar to help power their homes or businesses. These customers connect to our community grid and sell their excess electricity to MGE. As of year-end 2021, we have partnered with more than 1,750 customers to connect their solar installations to our grid.

Natural gas as a bridge fuel
While we are replacing much of the coal-fired generation to be retired from Columbia with investments in renewable generation, MGE also plans to purchase 25 MW from the state-of-the-art West Riverside Energy Center, with an option to purchase an additional 25 MW. MGE currently expects to exercise this option in a future period. The highly efficient West Riverside facility has lower emission rates compared to coal-fired generation and other older natural gas plants. We expect the carbon emissions resulting from a 50-MW share of the West Riverside Energy Center to be less than 10% of the carbon emissions resulting from our share of the output of the Columbia Energy Center.

Investment in West Riverside helps MGE to meet the energy needs of our customers cost-effectively and reliably with the retirement of Columbia and to enable our continued transition to greater use of renewable energy in our supply mix. Natural gas plants are an especially efficient backup to renewable energy because they can be dispatched quickly and at times when it’s more challenging for wind or solar generation.

Partnerships and collaborations
MGE has ongoing collaborations with a number of communities, including the cities of Fitchburg, Madison and Middleton. These partnerships serve to advance shared goals around renewable energy, electric vehicles (EV), and energy efficiency and conservation.

MGE also served as a member of the Dane County Council on Climate Change. The council included local government, businesses, utilities and environmental organizations. MGE’s partnership with local stakeholders through the council offered another opportunity to work toward common goals, including deep decarbonization.

MGE is a longtime partner of Sustain Dane, a local organization that has offered innovative programs for local residents and businesses for more than 20 years. During this time, Sustain Dane has been recognized as a leader in helping local organizations set and achieve sustainability goals. MGE and the City of Madison have partnered with Sustain Dane to host Accelerate Sustainability Workshops, which help local professionals learn more about sustainability best practices through local case studies.

Dane County Climate Champion award
In 2021, the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change recognized MGE with a climate champion award. The award acknowledged our ongoing efforts to reduce emissions associated with electricity production, noting that MGE added 84 MW of solar generation capacity in 2020 and 2021.

Dane County Airport Solar

MGE partnered with Dane County to build a 9-MW solar array (shown here under construction in October 2020) at Dane County Regional Airport in Madison to serve County-owned facilities.


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