Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change

Frequently Asked Questions

Climate Change is a global issue and Dane County is just one county in one state--does it really matter what Dane County does on climate change?

Dane County’s efforts definitely matter! First, it’s everyone’s responsibility to do their part. We all need to reduce our emissions as part of the global effort to slow climate change. And, second, we are Dane County, home to some of the brightest scientific, entrepreneurial and policy minds in the country. We feel a responsibility to lead--to reduce our emissions in a way that will inspire others to do their part too.

Our climate action plan (CAP) lays out a strategy for cutting emissions in half by 2030. As we begin to achieve that vision we can inspire others to join us, creating the momentum we need to address climate change regionally and then on a national and, ultimately, global level.

We’ve already set up a webpage that focuses on tracking our progress. In the plan we identify a number of key outcomes that will reduce emissions. (For example, one of the outcomes is achieving 1200 MW of solar electric energy in Dane County by 2030.) We will monitor and report progress on the outcomes annually.

When we reduce greenhouse gas emissions we also reduce pollution and that has a direct impact on human health. Dane County will aim to track and report associated health impacts as well as environmental and eco-system impacts associated with our plan. Tracking these auxillary benefits can help everyone understand the full benefits of climate action.

A federal commitment to action on climate change would enhance our local efforts. At present we do not have that. In the absence of federal leadership it’s important for cities and counties and states to band together to act.

At the state level there’s been a trend in recent years for the Wisconsin legislature to take away local control--to make it illegal for localities to set policies that are more progressive than state policy. Local cities and counties cannot, for example, set a stretch building code to encourage more efficient construction. We think state legislators should permit local leaders to innovate in ways that work for our communities.

Residents and businesses in Dane County are typically eligible for rebates or discounts on certain energy efficiency products from Focus on Energy. Whenever you are thinking about energy efficiency or renewable energy check to see how Focus on Energy can help.

Businesses in Dane County (including farms and nonprofit organizations) can work with PACE WI to access financing for energy efficiency and clean energy projects. Homeowners may be able to access a home equity loan to finance home improvements.

In August 2019 Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway convened local government leaders as the Sustainability Leadership Collaborative with the aim of working together to address climate change. The SLC has shared information and strategies focused on fleets, energy efficiency, renewable energy and green infrastructure. These efforts enable local officials to learn from each other, to accelerate emission reductions and to enhance local resilience.

Climate change isn't fair: those who emit the most pollutants usually don't live downstream where they see the negative effects of those pollutants; frontline communities often see the most dire consequences from climate change (e.g., flooding, high heat events), even though they may have lower emissions than other communities.

A guiding principle of our climate action plan is to address the equity and justice issues associated with our past use of fossil fuels. That means we aim to identify and prioritize the opportunities for frontline communities to benefit most from clean energy efforts. That's a big objective. We know we will need insights and ideas from real people across Dane County to make this goal a reality so if you have ideas, please let us know.

The Climate Action Plan (CAP) is a great place to start since all of the recommendations are discussed in some detail in the CAP. Going forward, we’ll be working with stakeholders to refine and prioritize these ideas. If you want to be part of those discussions, let us know. If you have ideas, let us know. To stay informed, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media.