June 2019 Director’s Note

Summer Solstice just passed, so we’re half way through 2019 and only 6 years away from 2025 – the year to achieve Energy Independent Community (EIC) Goals. More than 140 Wisconsin communities signed EIC resolutions (many back in 2009 and 2010), committing to generate 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources locally by 2025. Several are using that as an interim goal on the way toward 100 percent clean energy goals.

UW-Madison Extension and the Office of Energy Innovation, through the Energy On Wisconsin Program, are teaming to learn the status of EIC communities so that we can offer targeted assistance toward their success. We will be sending a survey to those communities soon.

To inspire, here’s the story of one community’s progress. The City of Middleton should surpass their 25% x ’25 goal  by the end of 2019; and, they will be half way to reaching their 100 percent renewable electricity goal by 2035 for city operations. This big increment will be added by purchasing 10 percent of the solar electricity from MGE’s new 5 MW community solar garden (see Policy below). The Middleton-Cross Plains School District will purchase 20 percent of the solar electricity from the project as well.

Middleton residents and businesses will be able to purchase up to half of their electricity use from this second solar garden in Middleton. The 2018 Middleton Resolution to Address Global Warming through Clean Energy, sets a community-wide goal of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2040  (see EnergyOnWI News, July 2018). Residents and businesses, especially those without solar access, suitable roofs or financial ability to install solar on their own properties, will be encouraged to sign up for community solar to help reach the community-wide goal.

Other Wisconsin communities are working to transition to a stronger local clean energy economy as well as to local energy resilience. Many factors in motion will help EICs achieve their goals by 2025: Declining prices of solar, wind, and battery storage; Innovative financing like the Washburn/ Bayfield approach (see below); PACE Wisconsin financing for businesses; A strong Focus on Energy program; Utilities and developers building large scale renewable energy generation; The private sector like Organic Valley, Kohler, Target and Facebook driving the marketplace (see below); Research and innovation (see UW, Imagen and M-WERC below); State and local policy addressing the climate crisis; and, the transition to electric vehicles.

May your clean energy efforts flourish with the long days of summer and help communities move toward energy independence.

Sherrie Gruder