100% Renewable Madison

Insights into how the City of Madison, Wisconsin, can achieve 100 percent renewable energy and zero net carbon, setting ambitious goals that will provide long-term benefits to the community.

In March 2017, the City of Madison, Wisconsin, became the 25th city in North America to set a goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy and zero net carbon emissions. Across the U.S., more than 97 cities, more than five counties, and two states, have also adopted ambitious 100 percent clean energy goals. Six cities in the U.S. have already hit their targets. These six cities now generate 100 percent of their community-wide energy uses from renewable sources.

The City of Madison must achieve similar success, with local government operations leading the way. We do not have much time. According to a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero around 2050. Despite the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, there is a steady resolve for climate leadership in Madison and the greater Madison region.

In joining other cities around the U.S. and world, the City of Madison is demonstrating its commitment to using low carbon strategies to meet community-wide economic, environmental, and social challenges. Powering City operations with 100 percent renewable energy will enable City officials to accomplish multiple city policy objectives, including job creation and economic development, cost savings to city taxpayers, promoting racial equity and social justice, contributing to long-term public health and vitality through improved air and water quality, and resilience in the face of more extreme weather events.

This report includes four parts:

  • Madison’s Current Sustainability Success: Recent sustainability successes from the City of Madison local government operations and the greater Madison area community.
  • Scenarios to Achieve 100% Renewable Energy and Zero Net Carbon: An overview of three time-based scenarios that City officials can use to accomplish renewable and net zero goals.
  • Technical Detail of Scenarios: In-depth details and analysis about the three scenarios for Madison’s low-carbon future.
  • Suggested Actions to Accelerate Madison’s Goals: Additional suggestions to reach 100 percent renewable energy and zero net carbon goals for local government operations and the larger Madison area community.
Looking Forward

The energy ecosystem is changing. Renewable energy, energy storage, and electric vehicle markets are undergoing rapid technological innovation and price declines. A balanced approach of investments in energy efficiency, transportation strategies, and renewable energy installations, along with Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) and carbon offsets, is key to reaching 100 percent renewable energy and zero net carbon goals quickly and cost-effectively.

To ensure that Madison stays focused on its ambitious sustainable journey, City officials should review their plans every two years to confirm progress and update milestones due to the rapidly changing economic, technology, and policy landscape. As the energy landscape continues to evolve, the most effective strategies to reach the City of Madison’s goals also will evolve.

City officials have an urgent need for future climate planning and implementation while promoting Madison’s vibrant culture to retain and attract people who will continue to make contributions for our community, our planet, and our shared prosperity. With its clean energy and carbon reduction goals firmly in place, the City of Madison is well-positioned to maximize the value of its energy and climate transition for local government operations and the broader community.

For more details, download the complete whitepaper.