Dairyland is committed to protecting natural resources through sustainable practices and environmental stewardship. We are a founding member of the Electric Power Research Institute's Power-in-Pollinator Initiative, which is the largest pollinator protection collaboration in North America. Pollinators include native bees, honey bees, beetles, flies, moths, butterflies and small mammals. According to pollinator.org:
- About 75% of all flowering plant species need the help of animals to move their heavy pollen grains from plant to plant for fertilization;
- Pollinators are critical to an ecosystem for their contributions to healthy plants and helping to ensure full harvests of crops;
- An estimated 1/3 of all foods and beverages are delivered by pollinators;
- In the U.S., pollination produces nearly $20 BILLION worth of products annually.
Since the 1990s, Dairyland Power has worked in collaboration with conservation groups and restoration companies to create sites promoting prairie - and pollinator - restoration. Early efforts focused on seeding nearly 40 acres atop a coal ash landfill cap (Genoa, Wis.) and enrolling 110 acres of bluff land property into a conservation easement (Alma, Wis.). This larger piece of property also contained a rare 7.5 acre bluff or "goat" prairie.
Today, Dairyland is also creating dual-purpose spaces at solar array and substation sites. Through the end of 2018, there were 18 solar array sites within Dairyland's four-state service territory with 25 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity. Not only are those sites estimated to power nearly 4,000 consumer-member homes, but they will also be home to about 250 acres of new pollinator habitat. By contracting with Prairie Restorations, Inc., the solar array sites were seeded with native seed mixes of grasses and flowering forbs to create certified pollinator gardens. In addition to helping sustain and grow bee and butterfly populations, the pollinator gardens will help reduce storm water runoff, increasing site protection from erosion.
Within the Dairyland Power system, there are 300 substations. Adjacent to each structure, Dairyland typically purchases additional property as a site buffer. In 2017, Dairyland employees started investigating potential sites to develop additional one- to two-acre pollinator meadows. Not only do the sites provide beneficial habitat for pollinators, but also create public green space near residential developments to encourage healthy lifestyles and pollinator awareness.
Annually, Dairyland Power recognizes Pollinator Week in June. The biology department hosts a table with pollinator information, including a display of items made possible by pollinators. It is also an opportunity to bring in experts from local conservation groups to share how Dairyland's efforts align with their work and additional projects they are working on that Dairyland employees could be part of in their local communities. The following items are a few among many that exist thanks to pollinators: