Thursday, December 3, 2020 - 4:03 pm

The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School was named a 2020 Dane County Climate Champion by Executive Joe Parisi on Thursday, Dec. 3.

The District was one of more than 25 entities to be recognized. The Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change launched the Climate Champion program earlier this year as part of Dane County’s Climate Action Plan to recognize the progress local entities are making to address climate change.

“Climate change is a big global challenge, but these awardees illustrate how entities are acting locally, right here in Dane County, to do their part. I’m excited to recognize this year’s Climate Champions — they are the first in what I hope will be a long line of local champions for our community,” Parisi said.

The District was recognized for its efforts to reduce salt use and increase water conservation. The District, City of Middleton and MGE were also recognized for the solar array at Middleton Airport-Morey Field.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the 5-megawatt (MW) solar array at the Middleton Municipal Airport, also known as Morey Field, was held in October 2019. The solar array became operational earlier this year and nine District schools will benefit from the solar array.

The solar array is estimated to save the District $28,381 in electricity costs during the first year the array is operational and $1.059 million by 2048 compared to rates from non-renewable energy sources. That is based on the current prices for electricity and fuels. If those costs go up, the District's savings will go up and if they go down the District's savings would be less. There is no cost to MCPASD.

The District and the City of Middleton are the first utility customers in Wisconsin to commit to receive service from an off-site solar power plant built for their use. MCPASD has reserved one MW share, while the City of Middleton has reserved a one-half share of the output from MGE's Morey Field solar project.

"We are honored to be recognized,'' Director of Communications Perry Hibner said. "We have a long and proud tradition of supporting sustainable, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly initiatives.''

The Dane County Climate Champions include Artisan Dental, the first carbon neutral general dentistry practices in the United States, and Zerology, the firm that converted the Green Cab fleet to electric vehicles. Also included are net zero and high efficiency schools in Oregon and Sun Prairie, as well as entities like American Family Insurance and Exact Sciences that are encouraging sustainable practices among employees and customers.

The Climate Champion program is organized into tiers, from Emerging Climate Champion to 4-Star Climate Champion. An awardee is a 4-Star Champion if they have achieved 100 percent success in eliminating at least one source of emissions. This year, two entities achieved 4-Star status — Zerology, for its all-electric Green Cab fleet and Artisan Dental, for offsetting 100% of its carbon emissions. The 2020 program recognized entities in seven categories, including building energy use, fleet, employee commuting, water practices, agricultural practices, total emissions, and other. Submissions in the “other” category will help to define categories for recognition in future years.

An interactive map of the Climate Champions is available on the Dane Climate Action website.

Parisi established the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change in 2017 to further the county’s efforts to address climate change.