Energy efficiency and conservation

Energy efficiency is a key strategy for reducing carbon emissions. MGE is committed to providing customers with the tools and resources they need to make wise energy choices that help reduce their individual carbon footprints.

We strive to “meet customers where they are” to engage them in energy efficiency. Through the use of new technologies, hands-on workshops, energy education, conservation kits and innovative rate options, MGE is helping to empower customers to take control of their energy use to better manage long-term costs and to achieve deep decarbonization.

Managing demand with smart thermostats
Electric use peaks during stretches of hot, humid days when air conditioners run in a majority of homes and businesses. These periods of high electric use put pressure on utilities to generate and distribute enough electricity to everyone who needs it.

More than 3,500 households participate in MGE Connect®, our smart thermostat demand response program for residential customers. With customers’ permission, minor temperature adjustments are made to their smart thermostats to reduce energy use during periods of high demand. The program helps MGE better understand the role and impact of smart devices in helping manage our community grid while helping customers reduce their energy use with minimal possible impact on comfort. In 2022, MGE Connect helped us reduce usage by up to 2.9 MW per event during a number of days with high demand, which is equal to the power from 8,700 solar panels or enough electricity to offset the usage of about 850 MGE households in the summer.

MGE also works with partners, such as FOCUS ON ENERGY®, Project Home and community organizations, to make smart thermostats and other energy-saving improvements available to lower-income households. MGE is committed to working with customers and our partners to help ensure all customers have the opportunity to share in the benefits of new technologies.

Smart Water Heater Rewards project
In 2022, MGE launched our Smart Water Heater Rewards project. We are partnering with residents at a local multifamily property to test technology that allows MGE to shift water heating without impacting customer comfort. The buildings have electric water heaters, which makes them an optimal test site for the project. The smart devices, which are installed on the electric water heaters, help us shift heating to off-peak times or when renewable resources are generating the most electricity. The project offers benefits similar to managed EV charging for grid optimization.

Conserving energy with On Demand Savings
MGE’s On Demand Savings (ODS) program offers large customers tools and strategies to reduce their energy use, especially during periods when demand for electricity is at its peak. ODS uses an online dashboard to give customers near real-time electric usage information and alerts, enabling them to act to cut costs and to reduce their environmental footprint. MGE is looking to expand access to the ODS portal to all customers in the future and to include monthly gas usage and electric submetering data visualization.

Working with Focus on Energy
Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program, is MGE’s partner in educating customers about the value of energy efficiency and conservation. MGE works with residential and commercial customers seeking incentives and rebates through Focus on Energy to make energy-saving improvements. In 2021, MGE business customers who participated in Focus on Energy programs saved 5,399 kW, 24,817,380 kWh and 2,180,128 therms. They received $2,987,743 in incentives for completing conservation projects.

Residential battery pilot participants
Collaborating to explore residential battery technology
MGE is collaborating with the Electric Power Research Institute for a technology demonstration project to explore battery storage for residential electric customers. Several homeowners who have a solar photovoltaic system have a battery installed outside their home. The rooftop solar system charges the batteries, which can be used during times of peak demand and as a backup source of power for the household. This project will help us better understand how batteries operate in Wisconsin temperatures and how batteries could help control long-term costs by managing our collective use of energy. Battery storage also could provide enhanced reliability as we continue our transition to greater use of renewable resources.

Meeting customers where they are
Our Residential and Community Services team continues to connect in new ways with customers around energy efficiency, new technologies and other energy-related needs. Deepening our engagement with customers is one of our objectives under our Energy 2030 framework, which guides our work with customers toward a more sustainable future.

From our partnership to offer free energy-saving items from Focus on Energy to our outreach to introduce customers to our online tools and other resources, our energy experts work with community partners and customers to answer questions about customer bills, help customers understand their energy usage, identify resources for assistance and more.

Working together to manage energy usage at multifamily buildings
In 2022, the Residential and Community Services team, in partnership with Focus on Energy, launched the Strategic Energy Management for Multifamily pilot. The innovative pilot included a two-pronged approach, including tenant engagement and operations and maintenance. The tenant workshops focused on cooling, dehumidification, ventilation and basic plug load strategies. For the operations/maintenance segment of the pilot, Focus on Energy conducted energy scans of the buildings and compiled lists of energy-saving opportunities ranging from HVAC and other mechanicals to lighting for the property managers.

Serving as a trusted energy resource
MGE’s Home Energy Line to “ask the experts” is an efficient way for customers to get energy tips and answers to their energy-related questions via phone or email. In 2021, MGE energy experts provided individualized advice to more than 1,650 customers and conducted targeted digital engagement with customers and community partners throughout the year. Our energy experts worked with customers to help them better understand flexible payment plans and energy efficiency resources. This included outreach to customers who were behind on their bills due to the pandemic. MGE also maintains a separate line for business customers who need assistance.

Portable energy meters
MGE has donated more than 50 portable energy meters to area libraries for customers to use. The meters measure voltage, electricity cost and electric consumption. They help customers identify the potential causes of high energy use and better understand the exact operating costs of various items in their homes.

Energy education for our youth
We partner with local teachers, schools and summer programs from elementary school through college to help educate thousands of students about energy, safety, electric transportation, new technologies and career opportunities in the industry. MGE also offers a series of brief videos in English and Spanish to help educate students about solar energy and EVs.

Online resources
Simple, cost-effective energy-saving tips for homeowners, renters and businesses are available online from MGE. Customers also can compare their energy use and learn what has helped other customers save. For example, using My Account at mge.com, customers can review their bill, payment history and past energy use and sign up for MGE services.

We share energy-saving tips, tools and information on our social media channels and online at:

mge.com: MGE’s primary site for customer services; account access, paperless billing and bill payment; safety and outage information; and other news, information, programs and services from MGE.

mge2050.com: A source for clean energy news, energy-saving tips and information. The site includes locally based videos and features articles around saving energy, MGE’s new programs and services, and initiatives for working together to achieve net-zero carbon electricity by 2050.

genre2030.com: Features films and energy-related content with the goal of engaging MGE’s millennial customers in the company’s Energy 2030 framework for a more sustainable future.

livinginbalancemadison.com: Shares stories about what it means to be sustainable from MGE’s diverse customer base and community members who are living it every day.

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