Madison Gas & Electric’s Neighborhoods Energize Wisconsin Program

In the summer of 1990, Wisconsin Demand-Side Demonstrations, Inc. (WDSD) solicited proposals for demonstration projects that would use community-based marketing to deliver utility Demand-Side Management (DSM) services. Madison Gas and Electric (MG&E), the primary gas and electric utility serving south-central Wisconsin, agreed to incorporate such a demonstration project in its portfolio of DSM services. The Center for Energy and Environment (CEE), an independent non-profit organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, proposed and was awarded funding for a full-service workshop and home visit program titled Neighborhoods Energize Wisconsin (NEW).

The overall goal of the NEW project was to demonstrate a program through which MG&E could achieve measurable electric efficiency improvements by delivering a coordinated, neighborhood-based environmental service to program participants. In order to accomplish this goal, the objectives of NEW were to:

  1. design a comprehensive, customer-oriented program that bundles proven energy efficiency improvements with broader environmental themes and services,
  2. demonstrate the value of community organizing and neighbor-to-neighbor marketing for delivering energy efficiency programs in Wisconsin,
  3. deliver workshops to 2,400 households and home visits to 1,900 households,
  4. illustrate the effectiveness of requiring participants to take responsibility for their own environmental choices by making specific commitments and taking specific actions,
  5. secure a commitment for on-going community pursuit of energy efficiency, including support from a broad mix of the community residents and leaders, and
  6. provide experience for implementing ongoing community-based energy efficiency programs throughout Wisconsin.

NEW relied on community organizing for both marketing and implementation. This is an approach that has been pioneered and proven by CEE, an organization which has gained national recognition for its success in combining energetic, efficient community organizing with technical expertise to generate high participation and significant energy savings.

CEE and its wholly owned subsidiary, Resource Alternatives, Inc. (RA), applied their proven expertise to design and implement a successful community-based DSM program for MG&E and its customers. The result was NEW, which actively involved the community of Cross Plains and selected neighborhoods in the city of Madison in a cost-effective, neighborhood-oriented program which focused on improving the electric efficiency and lessening the environmental impact of residential structures. The program capitalized on customers' increasing concern for the environment and provided residents with a unique opportunity to address not only their energy consumption, but also other consumption and lifestyle practices that affect the environment such as how they handle their solid waste.

NEW consisted of three basic components: a neighborhood workshop, an individual home visit, and a variety of incentives and follow-up services. These three components worked together to introduce and reinforce key concepts to participants, to emphasize the environmental consequences of individual decisions, and to motivate participants to take specific actions.

NEW aspired to:

  • Serve 2,400 households at workshops and an additional 1,900 households through home visits.
  • Enroll 250 customers for MG&E's Power Control Program.
  • Enroll 200 customers for MG&E's Home Remedy Program and
  • recycle 100 appliances.

NEW workshops started in February, 1993 and were completed in March, 1994 with all of these goals achieved.

Downloads (PDF)
Madison Gas & Electric’s Neighborhoods Energize Wisconsin Program: Final Report
Madison Gas & Electric’s Neighborhoods Energize Wisconsin Program: Training Manual