Madison Gas and Electric: Solar array advances MGE’s, City of Madison’s and school district’s shared energy goals

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Kaya Freiman
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Madison, Wis., July 29, 2021 ‐ Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) representatives were joined by leaders from the City of Madison and the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) today to celebrate the groundbreaking for an 8-megawatt (MW) solar array in Madison known as the Hermsdorf Solar Fields. The Hermsdorf Solar Fields will provide locally generated solar energy to the City of Madison and MMSD under MGE’s innovative Renewable Energy Rider (RER).

“We are excited to break ground with our partners on another MGE project that will help bring locally generated, cost-effective, carbon-free energy to our electric grid,” said Jeff Keebler, MGE Chairman, President and CEO. “Partnering with the City of Madison and the Madison Metropolitan School District on this project serves as a great example of what can be accomplished when we work together around shared goals. MGE is working every day toward net-zero carbon electricity by 2050 for all of our customers and if we can go further faster by working together with our customers, we will.”

Solar array will power City, school district facilities
The City will take 5 MW of the output and MMSD will take 3 MW of the output under separate RER agreements with MGE. The electricity generated by this local source of clean energy is expected to increase renewable energy use in City operations by nearly 20% and MMSD by about 16%.

“The City of Madison is excited to break ground on the Hermsdorf solar project with our partners, MGE and MMSD,” said Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. “Once completed, this clean energy resource will be a significant contribution to the City’s 100% renewable goal for municipal operations by 2030. I look forward to continuing to work with partners across our community to allow all of Madison to use 100% renewable energy in the future.”

“We know environmental sustainability is an important value shared by our students, staff and community, and we are grateful to MGE for helping us deliver on our commitments to renewable energy,” said Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent, Dr. Carlton Jenkins. “By partnering with us to reduce the carbon footprint of our facilities and operations, MGE is helping us create a future with cleaner and operationally more efficient facilities for generations to come.”

The solar array will consist of about 28,000 solar panels and will cover approximately 53 acres of land north of the Dane County landfill in southeast Madison. A subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources is the developer and builder of the project. Construction is expected to begin this summer with the solar array generating electricity by the end of the year.

“NextEra Energy Resources is pleased to support Madison Gas and Electric’s sustainability goals through the development and construction of the Hermsdorf Solar Fields,” said Matt Ulman, vice president of distributed generation for NextEra Energy Resources. “This project is a great example of the multitude of ways we’re able to collaborate, develop and construct a custom-tailored solution to meet customers’ renewable energy needs.”

Renewable Energy Rider grows local clean energy
MGE’s RER enables the company to partner with a large energy user to tailor a renewable energy solution to meet that customer’s energy needs. The City of Madison and MMSD have entered into RER agreements with MGE, which were approved by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. RER customers are responsible for costs associated with the renewable generation facility and any distribution costs to deliver energy to the customer. The RER model grows clean energy in our community.

MGE’s net‐zero carbon electricity goal
In May 2019, MGE announced its goal of net-zero carbon electricity by 2050, making it one of the first utilities in the nation to commit to net-zero carbon by mid-century. MGE’s net-zero goal is consistent with the latest climate science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) October 2018 Special Report on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

To achieve deep decarbonization, MGE is growing its use of renewable energy, engaging customers around energy efficiency and working to electrify transportation, all of which are key strategies identified by the IPCC.

About MGE
MGE generates and distributes electricity to 157,000 customers in Dane County, Wis., and purchases and distributes natural gas to 166,000 customers in seven south-central and western Wisconsin counties. MGE’s parent company is MGE Energy, Inc. The company’s roots in the Madison area date back more than 150 years.