FOX47 NEWS - Green Power Demand
Clean energy is in high demand in southern Wisconsin.
Even in tough economic times, many people are willing to pay a little extra to save the planet.
In fact, Madison's local utility has the highest green power participation rate in America. Now, new tools are emerging, which allow consumers to go a step further.
When Madison, Gas and Electric expanded its Green Power Tomorrow program, the response from consumers was overwhelming.
It sold out in less than a year, and people are buying blocks of energy to replace the electricity the have that would normally be made by fossil fuels such as natural gas or coal, said Steve Kraus, MG&E manager of media relations.
Ten percent of customers are buying clean, renewable energy -- much of it powered by wind farms across Wisconsin and Iowa. It's slightly more expensive. For the average household, about $6 more per month.
The extra increment that we charge for alternative energy all goes back into the investment into that energy, and the operation of it, Kraus said.
Now, MG&E is partnering with the UW Sage program, and 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, and creating a first-of-its kind web site for people concerned about climate change.
There are dozens of web sites that allow people to track their carbon footprints, but what makes this one special is the ability to put in your individual information in and share it with others.
CO2gether.org allows you to securely access your MG&E energy bills, type in the car you have and miles traveled, and figure out the impact your habits have on the environment.
How much will I save if I start taking the bus instead of driving? You enter this information, and over time it will tell you how much you saved. You can see it in the charts, said Steve Hiniker, Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.
Forums allow people to share green tips and success stories.
Whether its the discussion groups, whether its the charts, whether its the journal entries, this web site has a little bit of something for everyone who's interested in tracking their carbon footprint, said Hiniker.
You don't have to be an MG&E customer to use the web site. People hooked up to other power grids can track their energy use, too. All you need is your utility bill. Then you type in some numbers.