Madison Gas and Electric promised to take steps toward using renewable energy sources this week, while some energy advocates believe this measure is still not enough.
MGE pledged to work to increase use of renewable resources in coming years, according to a statement the company and nine shareholders released Monday.
The statement included an ongoing commitment from MGE to increase renewable energy in the future, conduct studies regarding the addition of renewable energy to MGE’s supply mix, continue its biennial environmental responsibility report and support community energy conversations.
The agreement was negotiated in response to two resolutions from shareholders late last fall, MGE spokesperson Steve Schultz said. One would have required MGE to conduct a study on how it could achieve use of 25 percent of renewable energy by 2025, he said. The second would have tied executive compensation to sustainability, meaning CEO pay packages would be determined based on MGE’s reduction of fossil fuels.
The statement addressed these resolutions, stating MGE would continue to progress toward meeting its goal of considering “environmental stewardship” in executive pay packages and that the study and community conversations would, in general, help transition MGE to cleaner energy in the future.
MGE, which already works with groups like Clean Wisconsin and the Citizens’ Utility Board, started conversations with shareholders almost immediately, Schultz said, and an agreement was finally reached last week.
Schultz said both sides were pleased with the final compromises.
“Both MGE and shareholder groups view this agreement as positive,” he said. “I think both the company and the shareholders are looking forward to moving forward.”
However, not everyone is thrilled with the results of the compromise.
Although RePower Madison, which defines itself as an organization “expanding clean energy options in the community,” views MGE’s agreement as a step in the right direction, RePower spokesperson Mitch Brey said it lacked a clear commitment to the clean energy goal.
“This is a clear victory for clean energy,” Brey said. “However, it doesn’t get to the heart of the issue.”
RePower Madison is most dissatisfied with MGE’s new billing policy which passed in January, Brey said. The new policy charges customers a higher up-front fee for electricity and natural gas, while it lowers the price for each unit of electricity or gas used.
So in short, these policies effectively lower bills for people who use more electricity and raise bills for those who use little electricity, making investments in renewable energy less attractive, Brey said.
“This deal is good news,” Brey said, “But I’m still dissatisfied with MGE, and I won’t be satisfied until we see them reverse the billing scheme.”
RePower Madison plans to participate in the community energy conversations MGE has promised to host, Brey said. It will also encourage Madisonians to attend, as well as stress the importance of MGE hearing citizens’ voices advocating for clean energy, he said.