Madison, Wis.,—Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) is pleased to announce that Dane County’s largest solar array is fully operational and delivering locally generated, sustainable energy to MGE’s distribution grid. Known as the O’Brien Solar Fields, the project is providing solar energy to local businesses, municipalities and public institutions under MGE’s innovative Renewable Energy Rider (RER).
“We are excited to have this solar array in service, providing carbon-free, cost-effective electricity to our customers. Thank you to our partners,” said Jeff Keebler, MGE Chairman, President and CEO. “The O’Brien Solar Fields project serves as a great example of how, by working together, we can advance shared energy goals, including MGE’s goal of net-zero carbon electricity for all our customers by 2050.”
MGE is partnering with the Wisconsin Department of Administration and the following customers on this project through RER agreements.
City of Fitchburg
“We are excited to celebrate the operational launch of Dane County’s largest solar array, sited within the City of Fitchburg,” said Aaron Richardson, Fitchburg Mayor. “The City’s purchases from this project will double our renewable electricity usage, from 20% to 40%, allowing us to surpass our 25% by 2025 renewable electricity target a full four years ahead of schedule.”
“Placon is extremely proud to be a part of the O’Brien Solar Fields project. It is in our mission to be the sustainability leader in our industry and supporting clean energy in our headquarters’ hometown fits right in with our company goals,” explained Jim Hart, Placon Engineering Manager.
“Initiatives like the O’Brien Solar Fields project are helping Promega make significant progress toward meeting our goal of a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030. We are grateful to be part of a community that’s working together to provide locally generated, cost-effective, carbon-free energy,” said Corey Meek, Corporate Responsibility Program Manager, Promega Corporation.
Tribe 9 Foods
“This is a monumental moment for Tribe 9 Foods – and I don’t say that lightly. With the addition of the O’Brien Solar Fields, our company will be powered 100% by renewable energy in Madison,” said Brian Durst, Chairman and CEO of Tribe 9 Foods. “This project is the result of amazing partnerships, and that’s what it’s going to take to drive real change that benefits our community and the planet.”
University of Wisconsin-Madison
“UW-Madison is proud to support clean, cost-effective, local energy. Our investment in the O’Brien Solar Fields is an important way to demonstrate our institutional commitment to a more sustainable planet – and it also provides a really exciting opportunity for our students and researchers to work with solar technology,” said Rebecca Blank, University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor.
Willy Street Co-op
“Buying locally generated, sustainable power from the O’Brien Solar Fields makes so much sense for us at Willy Street Co-op,” said Anya Firszt, Willy Street Co-op General Manager. “It’s a tangible way we can live one of our core Co-op principles, Concern for the Community, in which cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities. Using renewable energy is good for our owners and our neighbors. The future is now, and we’re proud to be part of the change we want to see in the world.”
O’Brien Solar Fields
O’Brien Solar Fields is located at the corner of Lacy Road and South Seminole Highway in Fitchburg. The solar facility spans approximately 160 acres and consists of about 60,000 bifacial solar panels that produce energy from both sides of the panels as they track the sun from east to west during the day. MGE owns the solar array and leases the land from the O’Brien family.
MGE is in the process of adding pollinator plantings in certain areas of the array under the solar panels to boost pollinator habitat for dwindling monarch and honeybee populations.
EDF Renewables Distributed Solutions designed, developed and built the project.
“EDF Renewables is pleased to work in collaboration with MGE to bring this project to completion during pandemic challenges on the construction process,” said Jamie Resor, CEO EDF Renewables Distributed Solutions. “Our focus on utility partnerships is exemplified by the MGE relationship, and we look forward to strengthening our relationship in the years to come as we operate and maintain the project. MGE is leading the way in providing renewable options to their customers and we are proud to be part of the solution.”
Renewable Energy Rider
Participating customers have entered into RER agreements with MGE. RERs enable MGE to partner with a large energy user to tailor a renewable energy solution to meet that customer’s energy needs. RER customers are responsible for costs associated with the renewable generation facility and any distribution costs to deliver energy to the customer. RER agreements require regulatory approval. The innovative 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 expects to achieve carbon reductions of at least 65% by 2030.
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.