Solar Project at Dane County Airport Now Delivering Locally Generated Clean Energy
December 18, 2020
Scott Adrian, 608-266-2444
Nine-megawatt solar array is largest installation in Wisconsin built for a single customer, advances clean energy goals for Dane County and MGE.
Madison, Wis., Dec. 18, 2020 – Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) announced the 9-megawatt (MW) solar array at the Dane County Regional Airport is fully operational and delivering locally generated, sustainable energy to MGE’s distribution system. The array will generate enough carbon-free electricity to provide Dane County with about 40% of the energy used by all county-owned facilities. It is the largest solar array in Dane County and the largest installation in Wisconsin built for a single customer.
"MGE appreciates the county's partnership in moving this project forward. It 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," said MGE Chairman, President and CEO Jeff Keebler. "Travelers through the airport or along nearby Highway 51 will see this large array and know our community is committed to sustainability."
“We are excited to reach completion on this historic, large-scale solar project,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “This solar array brings Dane County one step closer to achieving our commitment to becoming 100% renewable at county-owned facilities. These efforts benefit our environment, the local economy, and Dane County taxpayers. We appreciate MGE’s partnership on this project and shared commitment to pursuing sustainable energy alternatives.”
The solar array consists of about 31,000 solar panels and covers 58 acres of County-owned land north of the airport. Dane County is leasing the land to MGE and MGE will sell the energy to Dane County. The county’s purchase of renewable electricity from this solar project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an amount equivalent to the emissions produced by 2,700 cars or the burning of 7,000 tons of coal per year. In the spring, MGE will add pollinator plantings in certain areas of the array under the solar panels to boost pollinator habitat for dwindling monarch and honey-bee populations.
Dane County is committed to significantly increasing the amount of its electric load serviced by renewable energy sources to achieve 100% renewable status for county facilities. Dane County currently uses more solar generated electricity than any other county in the state. In addition to now purchasing 9-megawatts from the airport solar farm, Dane County generates over 600 kilowatts (kW) of power at 16 county-owned facilities. This solar farm will be the third solar installation at the Dane County Regional Airport.
Renewable Energy Rider grows local, clean energy
MGE's Renewable Energy Rider (RER) enables MGE to partner with a large energy user, like the County, to tailor a renewable energy solution to meet that customer's energy needs. The County entered into an RER agreement with MGE, which was 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 innovative model grows clean energy in our community.
The 30-year service agreement specifies that the county will purchase approximately 18 million kilowatt-hours annually, resulting in first year energy savings of approximately $137,000. There were no upfront capital requirements for Dane County.
MGE targeting net-zero carbon by 2050
MGE is targeting net-zero carbon electricity by the year 2050. 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. The company's pathway also is consistent with the IPCC's carbon reduction pathways. And, consistent with the science, MGE expects to achieve carbon reductions of 65% by 2030.
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. If MGE can go further faster in reducing carbon emissions, it will. Visit mge2050.com to learn more.
Drone footage of the solar array can be viewed and downloaded HERE.
MGE generates and distributes electricity to 155,000 customers in Dane County, Wis., and purchases and distributes natural gas to 163,000 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.