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Sierra Club Says Madison Is Ready For Renewable

Sierra Club Report Highlights Obstacles, Goals

Charlie Riedel/AP

By spring of next year Madison is expected to have a plan to move the city toward 100 percent renewable energy. The plan will come almost a year after the Madison Common Council voted unanimously to make Madison reliant on renewable energy.

The Sierra Club recently published a study highlighting cities across the country also working toward clean energy.

Jeanne Hoffman, City of Madison sustainability manager, is working on the city’s plan to reach these goals. Hoffman said the price and efficiency of renewable technologies, like wind and solar, are providing momentum.

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“There’s all these things that are really allowing us to unlock energy efficiency and renewable energy in a way that we’ve never before been able to do,” she said.

One obstacle the report cites is the city’s current reliance on coal to power the capital city. Madison Gas and Electric, a main energy provider, currently has a goal of 30 percent renewable energy by 2030. MG&E did support the common council’s renewable energy resolution, which passed in March 2017.

Elizabeth Katt Reinders, a senior campaign representative for the Madison branch of the Sierra Club, called MG&E’s goal a “low bar” in 2017.

“There’s a pretty glaring gap between the goals that MG&E has set out for itself, and the goal of 100 percent clean energy that Madison has set out,” she said. “So there is some work to be done, but it is doable.”

In November, MG&E got approval to own and operate a 66 megawatt wind farm that the company hopes to complete by the end of 2018. Steve Schultz, MG&E spokesman, said the Iowa-based wind farm could provide electricity to about 47,000 homes.

The dates to achieve Madison’s renewable energy goals aren’t set, but Schultz said MG&E plans to continue working with the city to achieve, “our shared goals.”