Sustainable Living: Support Clean Energy, Use Energy Wisely

Solar power
Photograph provided by MGE

Maybe you take shorter showers or collect rainwater for your garden. Maybe you access tickets and receipts electronically from your smartphone instead of printing paper copies. Maybe you bike to work. Whatever your contribution, the reality is that more people are choosing to live sustainable lifestyles.

An important part of sustainable living is making smart choices about energy. Supporting locally generated renewable energy is one way to meet your household's needs while reducing your individual footprint.

Joining the Shared Solar Community
MGE provides easy ways for customers to power their homes with clean energy. Shared Solar is an innovative program that offers participants the benefits of locally generated solar power without having to install solar panels on their homes. Instead, subscribers to the program share the electricity generated by a solar array in their community.

“Our customers asked for additional clean energy options, and we responded with Shared Solar,” says Cheri Salmon, MGE market development manager. “It’s a simple way for them to add solar power to their individual energy mix.”

MGE partnered with the City of Middleton on its first Shared Solar project—a 500-kilowatt solar array on the roof of the City’s Municipal Operations Center. More than 280 customers subscribed. The program sold out quickly in 2016, even before the 1,700-panel solar array began generating clean energy in early 2017.

“When they offered this partnership, I thought it was brilliant,” says James Monroe, Shared Solar participant from Madison. “It gives me all the benefit of getting solar on my own roof without any of the upfront costs or maintenance costs.”

With a low upfront cost, Shared Solar is an option for customers who want solar power but choose not to install or cannot install solar panels at their home. Participants pay a one-time, upfront fee to reserve some of the electricity produced and a fixed rate per kilowatt-hour for up to 50 percent of their annual electric usage. This rate stays with subscribing customers for 25 years—even if they move within MGE’s electric service area.

“It’s relatively inexpensive,” says Patrick Eagan, Shared Solar participant from Middleton. “If you were to put solar panels on your house, it would cost thousands of dollars. This is hundreds of dollars.”

Shared Solar is a good option for a customer living in an apartment or condo, or for a homeowner with a shaded roof.

“We actually had explored solar for our house, and we would have had to cut down trees,” says Anna Biermeier, Shared Solar participant from Middleton. “When we had the opportunity to buy into a cooperative effort, it was wonderful.”

“We can have solar without having solar on our own property,” says Penny DePaola, Shared Solar participant from Madison.

The clean, renewable energy generated through Shared Solar helps the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helps to manage fuel costs that can increase over time.

“This partnership with customers and the City of Middleton also advances MGE's Energy 2030 framework, under which we have set the goal of supplying 30 percent of our retail electric sales with renewable energy by 2030,” Cheri says. “Working together, we can reach our shared goal of a cleaner energy future.”

Expanding Shared Solar
“It’s a good investment,” explains Paul Sager, Shared Solar participant from Middleton. “Why couldn’t they do more of these?”

MGE is planning to expand its successful program with a second solar installation. If approved by regulators, the array will deliver locally generated clean energy to subscribing customers.

“We are pleased to continue to partner with customers to advance renewable energy and to be planning an expansion that will create more opportunities for customers to purchase clean energy,” Cheri says.

Customers who join the waiting list will be notified when program details become available. You can visit mge.com/SharedSolar to join the waiting list to participate.

“It’s really exciting to be a part of something new coming out like this,” says Miguel Benson, Shared Solar participant from Madison. “Everyone pitches in a little bit, and we get a big reward from it as a group.”

Managing Your Energy Use
Powering your home with clean energy is one part of the sustainability equation. Being energy efficient and actively managing your energy use are other important pieces.

New technologies create opportunities to be more sustainable. MGE is committed to working with customers to help manage their use and cost by tapping new technologies. Consider some of these strategies for more sustainable living:

• Drive an electric vehicle (EV). EVs cost less to drive and to maintain. Today’s all-electric models can go up to 200-plus miles on a full charge. When you charge at MGE’s public charging network, you fuel up using 100 percent clean energy. Visit mge.com/LovEV to learn more.

Take it a step further and charge your EV at home with green power. Add yourself to the waiting list for MGE's Shared Solar or sign up for MGE’s Green Power Tomorrow program. It offers up to 100 percent renewable energy for your home. Visit mge.com/SharedSolar and mge.com/GPT for details.

• Use a smart thermostat. These devices have the capability to control the temperature in your home remotely via a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Smart wall switches, outlets, and plugs also offer convenience and energy savings. Visit focusonenergy.com/smart for a $75 incentive offer on qualifying smart thermostats.

• Switch to LED lighting. Regular incandescent bulbs are inefficient, converting only 10 percent of the electricity used into light. LEDs are a better option. They are more efficient and last longer. Visit energy2030together.com/energyuse to learn about LEDs and other ways to save energy.

It’s easy to track your energy usage at mge.com/MyAccount . Customers can view and download history and use it to track cost savings from making energy-efficiency improvements.

As your community energy company, MGE is your source for energy-saving information. Visit mge.com and energy2030together.com . Or talk to an energy expert on MGE's Home Energy Line at 608.252.7117 or 800.245.1125, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or by email at AskExperts@mge.com .

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