Sustainability benchmarking and performance

MGE is committed to reducing environmental impacts across all areas of the company. MGE voluntarily participates in statewide environmental performance programs and various industry sustainability and benchmarking groups.

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Sustainability Steering Team
Nearly 30 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 company-wide 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. 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 and receives guidance from 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 assembles Continuous Improvement Sustainability Teams to address specific improvement initiatives and tasks.

Company-wide EMS
Our first Continuous Improvement Sustainability Team oversaw the expansion of our EMS to cover all MGE 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 and manages environmental risks across all of our company’s operations. It also further demonstrates our commitment to goal setting and environmental accountability. Read more about our EMS in the Governance section.

Green Masters logo
Green Masters program
In 2022, MGE earned the Green Master designation for the ninth consecutive year from the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council. Only the top 20% of applying companies receive the Green Master designation. The independent, points-based benchmarking program evaluates applicants in nine key areas: energy, climate change, water, waste, transportation, supply chain, community outreach, workforce and governance. MGE was the first utility to be awarded the distinction in 2014.

Energy Sustainability Interest Group
MGE partners with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in a number of areas, including the Energy Sustainability Interest Group (ESIG). The largest sustainability-focused group of its kind in the electric power industry, ESIG:
  • Provides a collaborative industry forum for electric power companies to discuss sustainability issues. 
  • Conducts focused technical research and develops specific tools to support sustainability program development.
  • Tackles the challenge of identifying and understanding sustainability issues, goals, metrics and disclosure.
  • Facilitates stakeholder engagement.
  • Informs sustainability reporting initiatives.

ESIG projects focus on priority issues, goals, metrics and sustainability communication for the electric power industry and its stakeholders. The project work may be utilized by group members to inform the development of their own sustainability programs and initiatives. Launched in 2008, ESIG has more than 40 members from the electric power industry.

Sustainability benchmarking
In 2021, EPRI marked its eighth year of an ongoing effort to identify and understand metrics appropriate for benchmarking the performance of electric power companies on their priority sustainability issues. MGE has participated in this EPRI benchmarking since it began in 2014. The Sustainability Benchmarking for Utilities project is conducted in collaboration with the previously mentioned ESIG and subject matter experts throughout EPRI. The project work is designed to advance technical research around what a sustainable electric power company looks like and how it can support the sustainable generation, delivery and utilization of electric power to customers.

Supply chain and waste management
Successful waste management requires a solid recycling program. We encourage employees to make smart choices about the environment. That includes supporting our recycling and waste-reduction efforts every day. We work to conserve, recycle and manage waste efficiently.

2021 recycling data
Our all-in-one recycling method includes paper products, glass, plastic and aluminum. We also recycle various metals and other scrap materials left over from field work. Our computing equipment and supplies are sent to an e-Steward-certified company for recycling or reuse, and our alkaline batteries go to a vendor who recovers steel and zinc. Our battery recycling program allows employees to bring in alkaline, NiCad and rechargeable batteries from home. Collection points around the company allow for safe, efficient drop-offs. We also recycle thermostats and other mercury-containing devices, chemicals, steel, iron, copper, glass and cell phones. Additionally, a local vendor takes our wood pallets, recycling them into mulch.

Office recycling improvements
In 2022, as part of ongoing continuous improvement efforts, MGE implemented waste management changes at our headquarters to improve recycling rates. Individual garbage and recycling containers were removed from workstations and replaced with centralized waste bins with signage to make it easier for employees to choose between waste and recycling.

Bottle filling stations and filtration systems
Throughout our facilities, MGE has more than 20 water bottle filling stations and filtration systems for employees to reduce the use of plastic bottles. In the eight years since the first one was installed through year-end 2021, MGE employees have avoided using more than 650,000 disposable plastic bottles.

Eliminating waste with e-records
MGE’s E-records Center allows employees to submit electronic documents to be stored as records rather than keeping paper copies. Over time, this will reduce our volume of paper. This environmentally friendly option also frees up physical storage space.

Paperless billing customer
Paperless billing
MGE launched an improved online billing and payment system for customers in 2016. Online billing and payment is a “win-win” for customers and companies. Studies find customers are more satisfied when viewing and paying their bills electronically. Companies benefit by realizing paper and postage savings from not having to print and mail paper bills. Based on the number of customer accounts signed up for paperless billing in 2021, an estimated 1,250,000 bills were not printed and mailed, which results in paper and cost savings.

Supplier proximity and diversity
MGE is committed to supplier diversity. Our goal is to ensure that equal opportunities exist for all small businesses, women-owned businesses and minority-owned business enterprises.

MGE’s corporate policy is to buy locally. We will give preference to Wisconsin manufacturers and distributors. Local purchases support the local economy and are typically more environmentally friendly. When it is time to purchase goods needed to run our company, we review our supplier database and buy from local vendors when possible and cost-effective. Many of the materials and equipment that utilities need are highly specialized; however, we buy U.S. products whenever possible.

ONE Future Coalition
MGE contracts with two natural gas transmission companies, Northern Natural Gas, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy Pipeline Group Company, and ANR Pipeline Company, owned by TC Energy.

Both of these companies, as part of their sustainability commitments, are part of the ONE Future Coalition. ONE Future is the trade name for “Our Nation’s Energy Future Coalition, Inc.” This group of more than 50 natural gas companies works together to voluntarily reduce methane emissions across the natural gas supply chain to 1% or less by 2025. In its 2021 report, ONE Future cited a methane intensity of less than one half of one percent, beating its 1% goal.

Northern Natural Gas and ANR Pipeline Company also are part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Methane Challenge Program. Partners in this voluntary program report systemic and comprehensive actions to reduce methane emissions as part of efforts to enhance transparency in the industry. Reducing methane emissions decreases operational risk, increases efficiency and demonstrates concern for the environment, with benefits ranging from air quality improvements to conservation of non-renewable energy.

Comprehensive risk minimization
MGE’s Environmental Affairs team oversees hundreds of routine monitoring, record-keeping and reporting tasks. In 2019, MGE began using a new software, which replaced all the old documentation systems with one comprehensive Environmental Management Information System (EMIS). MGE’s EMIS is used to manage environmental data collection, data analysis, record-keeping and reporting associated with environmental management. Read more about our EMIS in the Governance section.

Environmental Management System
In 2017, MGE expanded the scope of our renewed five-year contract with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for Green Tier certification, which recognizes environmental leadership. Our primary goal in the expanded contract is to cover all MGE operations under our Environmental Management System (EMS). 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 and further demonstrates our commitment to goal setting and environmental accountability. Read more about our EMS in the Governance section.

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