Beyond Coal

Many communities and utilities have plans for 100% renewable energy. However Madison Gas & Electric (MGE) obtains over half of their energy from coal and only about 1/5 from renewables. MGE’s Energy 2030 Plan calls for 30% renewable energy by 2030, and for net zero carbon by 2050 - which is less aggressive than Governor Evers’ goal of 100% carbon free electricity by 2050. Mid American in Iowa is about 85% renewable energy NOW, yet MGE has no plans to get off of coal.

The cities of Madison, Monona, Middleton and Fitchburg all have 100% clean energy goals, in some cases sooner than 2050. MGE is lagging behind the values our communities have declared and goals we have set. MGE’s response is too little, too late, and makes them a utility of the past, not the future.

In addition, MGE's rate structures were revised in 2015, placing more of a financial burden on low-income, elderly, students, minorities, and apartment dwellers who use less energy. Meantime, high energy users rates decreased. This has not only increased already problematic disparities in our community, something exacerbated by the pandemic, but has been a disincentive to investing in efficiency or solar, and is a step backward in supporting customer clean energy measures. Many other utilities in this state also followed suit by raising fixed fees and being antagonistic towards customers and clean energy.

We do have some good news. The Pleasant Prairie coal plant has been shut down by We Energies, Alliant Energy is closing the Edgewater coal plant in Sheboygan, and We Energies announced the planned closure of the South Oak Creek coal plant. They’ve all become too expensive to operate as clean energy becomes cheaper. But we still have several more plants to close, including the aging Columbia coal plant in Portage that MGE still owns a significant share of.

If continued use of coal is not the future you want, you don’t have to take it. You can get involved and tell MGE (and other utilities) what you want your energy and community’s future to be clean energy. We offer many different volunteer opportunities - organizing, planning events, doing outreach, social media, research, attending meetings, creating displays and graphics, writing, and more, and you can have fun while doing good.

Join our MGE Activist’s Beyond Coal team to tell our utilities that their reliance on coal does not match our values or provide a sustainable future for our children. MGE’s plan for 30% renewables by 2030 would still leave us with 70% dirty energy. That’s too much and too slow. Many other Wisconsin utilities are also lagging behind, and we need your support to push them to do better and provide forward looking affordable energy to power Wisconsin. You can join  us in our monthly meetings held virtually.

For more info or to join up, contact Don Ferber or Cassie Steiner.

 You can also act now to help close the Columbia coal plant by signing our petition here.



  1. Check out our Wisconsin Chapter Beyond Coal page.
  2. More specific information on our power plant fights is here.
  3. Read our report on The Cost of Coal.