Solar Projects, Electric Rate Decrease Proposed

Cleaner energy sources become increasingly cost-effective.

Solar Farms MapMGE announced in late May plans to partner with another Wisconsin utility on two major solar projects—the Badger Hollow Solar Farm and the Two Creeks solar project. Combined, the two utilities would own 300 megawatts (MW) of new solar.

MGE is seeking regulatory approval to add 50 MW from the Badger Hollow Solar Farm, which would be in Iowa County, and 50 MW from the Two Creeks solar project, which would be in northeastern Wisconsin.

"This is another step forward as we move toward a cleaner energy future and deep decarbonization," said Jeff Keebler, MGE president and CEO. "These projects align with MGE's carbon reduction goals."

If approved by the end of the year, construction of both projects would begin by spring 2019. The projects would be expected to come online by the end of 2020.

Wind Farm at Sunset

Construction of MGE's Saratoga wind farm on schedule

Construction of MGE's 66-MW Saratoga wind farm continues in northeast Iowa with delivery of the turbines expected by the end of the summer. The wind farm is scheduled to become operational by early 2019. Saratoga will deliver enough clean energy to power about 47,000 average households.

Tax savings, clean energy fueling proposed decrease in electric rates

MGE filed with state regulators in mid-July a rate case settlement agreement. In September, regulators approved the agreement. The agreement lowers electric rates and increases natural gas rates in 2019 and 2020. The agreement with intervening parties in MGE's rate case offers customers both short- and long-term benefits.

  • Electric rates: The settlement agreement decreases overall electric rates by 1.94% in 2019. No change was proposed for 2020. The decrease reflects the tax impacts from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as well as the addition of lower-cost renewable generation capacity, such as MGE's Saratoga wind farm.
  • Natural gas rates: The settlement agreement increases overall natural gas rates by 1.06% in 2019 and 1.46% in 2020. The increase covers natural gas system infrastructure improvements to ensure the continued reliability and safety of our natural gas system. It also reflects the impacts of tax savings. 

The changes take effect Jan. 1, 2019.

The settlement agreement also advances MGE's clean energy goals by accelerating depreciation of certain fossil fuel-fired power sources, including our combustion turbines, Blount Generating Station in downtown Madison and Columbia Energy Center Unit 1 near Portage.

"By essentially paying off these older assets sooner, we have more flexibility to make new investments in renewable energy and move us toward our Energy 2030 goals while mitigating impacts on rates," explained Keebler. "Wind and solar have decreased in cost and increased in efficiency in recent years, making them a cost-effective option for meeting customers' needs for decades to come."

MGE is working with customers to reduce carbon emissions by advancing cleaner energy sources, increasing engagement around energy efficiency and facilitating the electrification of transportation.

published: Aug-30-2018