Despite being smaller and somewhat south of its western neighbor, Minnesota, Wisconsin gets slightly less overall sunlight. The state gets between 4.0 kilowatt hours of sunlight per square meter and 4.5 kWh per square meter per day, according to NREL. The state’s proximity to the Great Lakes and the weather patterns that dominate the state, including persistent snow coverage in the winter and thunderstorms in the summer, are among the factors that reduce the amount of sunlight that hits the state.
While the state offers residents and businesses some incentives to convert to solar and renewable power, it offers more incentives to help people improve energy efficiency and increase insulation in their homes and businesses. Among the incentives offered in the state are a rebate program, various tax incentives, a loan-program, net metering, property-assessed clean energy financing and more. Some utilities offer customers a performance-based incentive, as of September 2010, most are full, but this may not be the case in the future. Some have filed to broaden their distributed-generation portfolios.
Wisconsin, in terms of its statistics, is overall pretty average. With 5.7 million residents, it’s the 20th most populous state and it is 23rd in terms of population density. The state’s also the 23rd largest state. According to the Energy Information Administration, the state’s energy usage is about average among states. And about 46 percent of its land mass is forested.
However, the state’s solar resources are below the national average. But, similar to northeastern states like New York, New Hampshire, and Maine, solar power is still a viable option. Most of the state isn’t windy enough to justify large wind installations, but NREL maps show that the regions with the most wind potential in Wisconsin are in its northern tip—where it borders Lake Superior, its southwestern corner, and its southeastern corner, which borders Lake Michigan.
To develop more locally-sourced power production, Wisconsin passed a renewable portfolio standard in 2006, requiring 10 percent of overall electric production in the state to be sourced from renewable resources. Under the law, utilities must purchase at least as much renewable energy as they bought in 2010, and must increase the amount purchased each year until 2015, when they reach 10 percent, and then they are not allowed to fall under that level of renewable power purchased.
Property Tax Exemption
Sales Tax Exemption
State Grant Program
State Rebate Program
Utility Grant Program
Utility Loan Program
Utility Rebate Program
Rules, Regulations & Policies
Building Energy Code
Energy Standards for Public Buildings
Green Power Purchasing/Aggregation
Public Benefits Fund
Renewables Portfolio Standard
Solar and Wind Access Law
Related Programs & Initiatives
The U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) provides a wide range of information and resources to enable the use of alternative fuels and other petroleum-reduction options, such as advanced vehicles, fuel blends, idle reduction and fuel economy. The AFDC site offers a database of state and federal laws and incentives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, air quality, fuel efficiency, and other transportation-related topics.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Green Power Network provides news and information on green power markets and activities, including opportunities to buy green power. This site provides state-by-state information on green power marketing and utility green power programs. In addition, the site lists marketers of renewable energy credits (RECs), also known as green tags or renewable energy certificates, which represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from renewable energy projects.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy-efficient. Through this program, weatherization service providers install energy-efficiency measures in the homes of qualifying homeowners free of charge. The WAP program web site offers a state-by-state map of opportunities, projects and activities.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America site provides state-by-state information on wind projects and activities, including wind working groups, validated wind maps, anemometer loan programs, small wind guides, state-specific news, wind for schools, workshops and web casts.
|Program Type||Net Metering|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Solar Thermal Heat, Solar Hot Water Heating|
|Amount||Credited at retail rate|
Utility interconnection agreements, Standard Distributed Generation Application Form, and Distributed
Generation Interconnection Agreement
|Official Web Site||http://psc.wi.gov/apps/tariffs/content/elelist.aspx|
Under the regulation, utilities must file tariffs with the commission that allow customers with systems up to 20 kW in size to net meter. The rule applies to all Wisconsin utilities that aren’t electric cooperatives. Despite these guidelines, the commission has not adopted administrative rules for net metering, therefore utilities’ requirements for net metering and their reimbursement methodology vary from one to another.
For instance, customers’ net excess generation is usually credited at the utility’s retail rate particularly for renewable energy systems, according to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE). All distributed-generation systems are eligible under the rule, and systems like combined heat and gas are usually net metered at the utility’s avoided-cost rate. Excess generation in a month period is carried forward to the next month, but if generation credits exceed $25, the utility must send the customer a check.
|Program Type||Property Tax Incentive|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Solar Hot Water, Solar Thermal Heat, Wind|
|Required Documentation||Request for Exemption of Renewable Energy System|
|Official Web Site||http://www.revenue.wi.gov/forms/govexmpt/pr-303.pdf|
To qualify for the exemption, property owners with wind or solar systems must request the exemption by March 1, from their local assessor, for the year in which the exemption is claimed.
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Solar Hot Water, Solar Thermal Heat|
|Amount||$1.00 per annual kWh produced by a system, up to $50,000 or 25 percent of a PV system’s costs|
|Required Documentation||Pre-approval application, notice of installation form|
|Official Web Site||http://www.focusonenergy.com/Incentives/Residential/|
Focus on Energy offers rebates to residents and businesses that install photovoltaics (PV) or other renewable energy technologies on their properties. The program is available to customers of participating utilities in the state. Check Focus on Energy’s website to see which utilities in the state are participating.
Focus on Energy is made possible through a government, private, and public partnership. The partners include the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, the Statewide Energy Efficiency and Renewable Administration (a coalition of utilities), Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation, Energy Center of Wisconsin, and others. As of 2010, the program had about $8.2 million to fund the rebates in 2010.
The residential and business rebate level is capped at $50,000 and 50 kilowatt hours (kWh) for PV and $100,000 for wind. Under the program, the rebate is based on the size of the system installed. PV systems qualify for rebates at $1.00 per projected annual kWh of electric production. Focus on Energy cautions applicants to wait until they receive approval prior to buying or installing a system, or else the system will become ineligible for the rebate. It also recommends conducting a site assessment and talking with at least three installers prior to deciding the system and the installer.
To be eligible for the rebate, applicants must submit a pre-approval application form, which Focus on Energy decides on within 30 days. If a change in a proposed system results in more than 20 percent expected change in generation, the applicant must submit a second application, otherwise the application may be rejected. Upon installing the system, the applicant must submit the notice of installation to Focus on Energy within 60 days to receive the funds. The rebate is payable either to the installer or the system owner. The current pre-approval form is valid until Dec. 31, 2010.
In addition to PV and wind, solar hot water and biomass combustion qualify for funding under the program.