Is MGE Energy Inc. prepared for the future? That’s the question on the minds of many shareholders as the MGE Energy annual shareholder meeting is held virtually, for the first time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
MGE Shareholders for Clean Energy, a grassroots group of local shareholders, is focusing on this concern. The group submitted a resolution to be voted on by all MGE shareholders at the Tuesday, May 19, meeting. The resolution is to put an environmental, climate change or public health expert on its board of directors. MGE has urged shareholders to vote against this resolution.
“We are facing unprecedented times with both the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis that looms over us,” said Don Wichert, co-coordinator of MGE Shareholders for Clean Energy. “The Madison area has some of the most qualified people in the country who could address the climate crisis. As shareholders, we want reassurance that the board of directors has one of these leading experts to ensure that MGE is proactive and not reactive as it eliminates its use of fossil fuels.”
The resolution applauds and recognizes MGE’s commitment to net zero carbon energy by 2050, announced at last year’s shareholder meeting, and emphasizes that “... effective implementation of these goals is essential to the future economic success of the company,” and “strong leadership from the board will be critical.”
Shareholders were dismayed at MGE’s rejection of this resolution and recommendation to vote against it.
“If the current COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we do not want to be caught on our heels when dealing with a global crisis,” said Beth Esser, co-coordinator of MGE Shareholders for Clean Energy. “Climate change is a global crisis that must be prepared for in every meeting and discussion that occurs in MGE, not just once a year when a university academic is brought in to brief the board.”
On May 19, shareholders will vote on the resolution as well as board of director nominees.
“We cannot understand why our community energy company we have invested in would allow their board to continue without this much needed expertise,” said Jon and Nancy Standridge, shareholders who wrote the resolution. “The burning of fossil fuels is clearly linked to respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD. The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the well-documented public health knowledge base regarding the threat from novel respiratory viruses to individuals with these fossil fuel-induced underlying conditions. MGE leadership needs to prepare for the future now to ensure that our community cannot only keep the lights on but also reduce our reliance on fossil fuels as quickly as possible.”