Local clean energy policies
Local communities across the state and country are no longer waiting for state and federal government to take action on clean energy.
Find more info here on which communities in Wisconsin have passed clean energy policies, how those communities got it done, and resources for how to bring a campaign for 100 percent clean energy by 2050 to your community.
Here are the communities in the state that have passed clean energy resolutions:
- Green Bay School District
- Brown County
- Dunn County
- City of Madison
- Madison Metropolitan School District
- City of Menomonie
- City of Middleton
- City of Green Bay
- City of Wauwatosa
- City of La Crosse
- City of Eau Claire
- City of Fitchburg
- City of River Falls
- Dane County
- La Crosse County
- Eau Claire County
- Eau Claire School District
- UW-Stout Student Senate
- St. Norbert College
- Lawrence University
Read more about some of these clean energy victories in the stories below.
City of Eau Claire
In 2017, Eau Claire City Council committed to the Paris Climate Accord and to do its part locally to combat climate change. The commitment was followed by a study by the Eau Claire Sustainability Advisory Committee (founded in 2014) to make recommendations for the city council on how a local community can meaningfully commit to an international agreement. The committee, along with city planning staff, established a energy usage baseline, and surveyed the community's support for clean energy, and ultimately urged the city to pursue 100 percent clean energy citywide.
In 2018, Eau Claire became the second city in Wisconsin to commit to 100 percent clean energy by 2050 with a unanimous resolution passed by the city council.
The city secured a grant from the Public Service Commission that funded a robust community-led planning process that resulted in the creation of the Renewable Energy Action Plan, a 10-year planning document to achieve their clean energy goal swiftly and financially responsibly.
The process was led by Eau Claire City Council Member and Wisconsin Conservation Voters Western Organizer Kate Beaton and her colleague, Council Member Andrew Werthmann.
City of Wauwatosa
In March 2020, the Wauwatosa Sustainability Committee drafted a communitywide resolution to commit Wauwatosa to achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. In October, the resolution was passed by the Common Council.
The resolution commits to reducing municipal emissions to 50% of the 2010 levels by 2030 and achieving 100% municipal and community carbon neutrality by 2050.
City of Milwaukee
In November 2019, the City-County Joint Task Force on Economic Equity was created to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050. The Task Force was charged with creating a climate action plan by “making recommendations on how to address the ongoing climate crisis, ensure Milwaukee meets the obligations set by scientists for necessary greenhouse gas reduction, and mitigate racial and economic inequity through ‘green’ jobs.”
Southeast Organizer Ariana Hones, sits on the Jobs and Equity workgroup and the Community Education and Outreach workgroup for the task force.
The task force put out a preliminary report in 2020 and continues to actively meet and work toward climate justice in Milwaukee.
City of Madison
In 2017, the city of Madison became the first city in Wisconsin and the 25th city in the US to commit to 100 percent clean energy.
Following the Youth Climate Strike in 2019, the Madison Common Council approved a report which included a recommendation to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, across public and private sectors.
City of Fitchburg
The Fitchburg City Council passed a resolution in 2019 setting a goal of meeting 100 percent of city electricity needs through renewable sources by 2030.
City of Middleton
The Middleton City Council passed a resolution committing to generating 100 percent of electricity communit-wide with renewable sources by 2040.
City of Menomonie
In 2019, Wisconsin Conservation Voters launched a campaign to pass a resolution by the Menomonie City Council to set a goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050. A community action coalition of the League of Women Voters of the Greater Chippewa Valley, Sustainable Dunn, and individual community members drove the grassroots campaign to facilitate discussion with decision makers and build community support through petitions, events, mailers, and more!
The campaign's Clean Energy Fellow, a student from UW-Stout, organized students on campus with an action team who worked together to collect petition signatures, speak at student groups and classes, organize events, and train students to advocate for policy at the local level. A resolution was also passed by student government supporting a city resolution to set a goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050.
With months worth of momentum building, dozens of community members ended up contacting their city council members and nearly 200 people signed a petition asking the city council to pass a clean energy resolution. In a rural city of about 16,000 people, the wave of interest from the community made all the difference.
In April 2020, by a unanimous vote of the Menomonie City Council, a clean energy resolution was passed setting a goal to “Move towards municipal carbon reduction with incremental drawdown targets of 25 percent by 2030 and 60 percent by 2040” and “in partnership with other state, county, local agencies, local businesses and utility providers, achieve a goal of ensuring all electricity consumed within the state of Wisconsin is 100 percent carbon-free by 2050.”
The city has partnered with the energy provider, Xcel Energy, to create a plan to accomplish their goal.
City of La Crosse
The La Crosse Common Council passed a resolution setting a goal of 100 percent renewable energy and carbon neutrality by 2050 in 2019.
Mayor Tim Kabat said of the initiative, "This has been in the works for the last couple of years, really trying to reduce and ultimately eliminate our need for fossil fuels when it comes to our city operations, our building needs and what we need for fuel for our transportation fleet. Seeing the more often and more severe storm events and flooding and all that, we have to deal with it. We don't have the luxury of just arguing about politics. We really have to get things done."
Among the community advocates that pushed to pass this resolution, the Coulee Region Sierra Club organized the community as part of their Ready for 100 initiative.
City of Green Bay
Beginning in May of 2018, Wisconsin Conservation Voters partnered with Justice Organization Sharing Hope and United for Action (JOSHUA) to urge the City of Green Bay to create a citizen-led Sustainability Commission.
Both organizations engaged their local members to draft the ordinance in tandem with a champion on the Common Council. When the time came for introducing the ordinance to committee and the full council, Wisconsin Conservation Voters and JOSHUA began organizing community support for the commission. Top level activists descended upon the council meeting where a final vote would be taking place. After hearing testimony from residents who were in support of creating the commission the common council unanimously passed the ordinance to create the commission.
The commission was formally created in the summer of 2018 and held its first official meeting in 2019, at which Political and Organizing Director Seth Hoffmeister was appointed as chair. Shortly after, the commission drafted a work plan to recommend to the common council which would commit the city to achieving 100 percent clean energy by 2050. All of the city alders voted in support of the work plan and thus the goal of reaching 100 percent clean energy was implemented. Days after taking office, Mayor Eric Genrich reaffirmed the city's commitment to reaching the clean energy milestone with a proclamation from his office.
The city is now working to realize its goal by benchmarking current energy use. It will soon be hiring a full time Coordinator of City Resilience, and is looking at various clean energy projects, such as installing solar panels at Leicht Park downtown. The Sustainability Commission is also in the midst of writing a detailed Climate Action Plan, which will mark their path toward carbon neutrality.
Eau Claire County
Taking the city's lead, Eau Claire County passed a resolution for 100 percent clean energy by 2050 for public and private energy usage throughout the county in 2019. The resolution was championed by former intern Lydia Boerboom, who used what she learned during her internship with us to run for county board and become the county's top clean energy advocate.
Since the passage of the resolution, the county has worked to establish a carbon baseline and is working to secure grants to fund the creation of an action plan. Eau Claire County would be the first predominantly rural county to create a clean energy action plan in Wisconsin. County leaders are hoping to set a standard in Wisconsin for engaging farmers in climate action planning and making an equitable transition to clean energy for the rural community.
Wisconsin Conservation Voters has been working to keep momentum high in the community to ensure that meaningful next steps are taken by the county to achieve their clean energy goals. There is an active campaign to show the county board that support for clean energy has only increased since the passage of their original resolution. To plug into the campaign, contact Western Organizer, Kate Beaton at email@example.com.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi signed a resolution in 2017 expressing support for the Paris Climate Accord and setting a goal to power county operations with 100 percent clean energy by 2035. The county announced in April 2020 that it is set to reach the goal early with the completion of a large solar project planned for the town of Cottage Grove.
In 2020, the county released their Climate Action Plan which aims to decarbonize the county, in public and private sectors by 2050.
La Crosse County
In the summer of 2020, Wisconsin Conservation Conservation Voters teamed up with Citizen Action of Wisconsin and the Sierra Club to help set a goal of 100% clean energy by 2050. Members of each organization from across La Crosse County sent dozens of emails to the county board, held meetings with their elected leaders, and sent a petition of over 150 supportive names to the board.
Thanks in part to the help of County Board Supervisors Maureen Freedland and Monica Kruse, La Crosse County became the third county in the state to make a commitment to 100% clean energy by 2050 with a resolution that calls for an equitable transition to clean energy. The board approved the resolution unanimously on August 20, 2020.
Subsequently, the La Crosse County Board met for strategic planning and elevated sustainability and their transition to clean energy as one of their top two concerns for the coming years. The board is committed to the creation of a sustainability committee as their next step in their journey to 100% clean energy.
Eau Claire Area School District
The Eau Claire Area School Board passed a resolution in 2019 setting a goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050.
Just a few months later, 360 solar panels were donated to the district to install two 100 kw solar arrays on Eau Claire's two public high schools. The Eau Claire Public School Foundation is raising money for installation and maintenance. The panels will save $20,000 per year in energy cost. Find out more about the project including ways to donate here.
Green Bay Area Public School District
In 2019, the City of Green Bay had already been committed to 100 percent clean energy. At that time, there was only one school district in the state committed to reaching the same goal.
That's when members of the Green Bay Area Public School District's board saw an opportunity to better serve their students, and entire community, by making their own commitment.
Members of the school board approached Wisconsin Conservation Voters in August of 2019 to explore the idea of committing to 100 percent clean energy. Immediately after the initial meeting, Wisconsin Conservation Voters began meeting with other members of the school board to gauge their support of such a move.
For six months, Wisconsin Conservation Voters worked hand-in-hand with the school board, GBAPSD administration, and the community to write a 100 percent clean energy resolution. Meetings were held with the Director of Facilities, the Chief of Operations, and the Superintendent to gain support from leadership. Wisconsin Conservation Voters presented a public presentation to the school board, parents, teachers, and the community on the benefits of transition to clean energy. All of the input that the school board and community offered was incorporated into the resolution.
Wisconsin Conservation Voters' members and activists jumped into action by contacting school board members to urge them to support the resolution. GBAPS voted unanimously to commit to 100 percent clean energy and carbon neutrality by 2050.
Madison Metropolitan School District
In 2019, the Madison Metropolitan School District became the first school district in the state to commit to 100 percent clean energy. The school board passed a resolution setting a goal for the district to be powered by 100 percent clean energy by 2040. The resolution's adoption was the result of advocacy from district students, parents, and community members as well as the organization, 100% Renew Madison.