Wisconsin Solar Rebates And Incentives

Rebates list

Wisconsin Rebates and Incentives Summary


Wisconsin has relatively little sunlight. The state gets between 4 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 dominant weather patterns, including persistent snow coverage in the winter and thunderstorms in the summer, are among the factors that reduce the amount of sunlight. Additionally, nearly half of the state is forested.

Wisconsin generates electricity through coal (60%), nuclear power (20%), and renewable sources (9%).  The state’s electricity rates are below the national average, while its energy use is above the national average.  The state’s per capita solar production ranks at 23rd in the nation.

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 solar incentives offered in the state are a rebate program, various tax incentives, a loan-program, net metering and more.

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.  Thanks largely to investment in wind technology, Wisconsin utilities met this goal in 2013, and are forecasted to exceed it through 2020.


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Biogas, Solar, and Wind Energy Equipment Exemption


In Wisconsin, any value added by a biogas, or synthetic gas energy system, solar-energy system, or a wind-energy system is exempt from general property taxes. The exemption applies regardless of whether the equipment is deemed real property or personal property.

Eligible Technologies

A solar-energy system is defined as "equipment which directly converts and then transfers or stores solar energy into usable forms of thermal or electrical energy, but does not include equipment or components that would be present as part of a conventional energy system or a system that operates without mechanical

Building Energy Code


Much of the information presented in this summary is drawn from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Building Energy Codes Program and the Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP). For more detailed information about building energy codes, visit the DOE and BCAP websites.

In March 2006, SB 459 was enacted to promote renewable energy and update the state's building energy codes.

The law required the former Department of Commerce (COMM) to create codes for energy conservation in public buildings and places of employment and to review that code. In conducting the review, the Dept. of

City of Madison - Contractor Licensing


Although the State of Wisconsin does not have any specific laws for contractors dealing with renewable energy, the City of Madison has issued rules for contractor licensing and equipment standards for solar thermal installations. In the City’s Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning Code is a requirement for a Class A-4 license for "a person desiring to enter into the business of installing, altering or repairing active solar heating equipment" as well as fee and examination details. As a result of a 2008 amendment (Ordinance No. 08-00122), the A-4 certification is not required if the

City of Madison - Solar and Wind Access and Planning Laws


Madison, Wisconsin, has established several local laws to facilitate the planning and permitting of solar and wind systems. The planning guidelines are specific to solar, while the permitting laws and procedures include wind as well.

To facilitate solar access, Madison’s land subdivision regulations require streets to be "oriented in an east-west direction to the maximum extent possible or to within 20 degrees of such orientation." There are some exceptions based on topography, property size and shape, existing street patterns, and other considerations. In addition, subdivision

City of Milwaukee - Energy Efficiency (Me2) Loan Program


Note: A decision on whether to discontinue this program is under review this week. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.

Milwaukee Energy Efficiency is a loan program for residential energy efficiency improvements. Loans are available for owner-occupied single family residences or owner-occupied multi-family residences of up to three units. Property must be located within the City of Milwaukee. To sign up for the program, interested residents should use the sign up form on the program web site. Loans are administered by Summit Credit Union.

This program is

City of Milwaukee - Milwaukee Shines Solar Financing


Beginning July 28, 2011, the City of Milwaukee will be offering low-interest loans for solar energy under its Milwaukee Shines Solar Financing program. Loans are available to homeowners of 1-3 unit, owner-occupied homes in Milwaukee. Interest rate maximum is prime rate plus 2.5%, and as low as prime plus 1.5%. Loans are limited to $20,000 and 15 years. Eligible equipment includes solar electric systems of up to 6 kilowatts (kW) and solar hot water systems of up to 8 panels. Projects must be installed by a Focus on Energy Residential Ally installer. Installers can be found here. Eligible

Design Assistance Program


The Focus on Energy Design Assistance Program provides design professionals, builders and developers of new buildings with whole building energy analysis tools. The program offers incentives to reduce the upfront cost of measures that increase the efficiency of commercial, industrial, and multi-family buildings (4 or more units) that exceed Wisconsin codes and standards. Design teams are eligible to receive incentives between $0.012 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) saved to $0.015 per kWh saved. After construction, building owners are eligible for incentives based on projected energy savings: $0.09

Eau Claire Energy Cooperative - Non-Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Programs


Eau Claire Energy Cooperative offers rebates to commercial and agricultural customers for the purchase of energy efficient appliances, central air conditioners, air source and geothermal heat pumps, water heaters, and agricultural equipment. Customers who install energy efficiency measures or equipment not listed on this program may still be eligible for rebates through the Focus on Energy program. Some rebates vary by the size, efficiency or capacity of the purchased equipment. Purchases must be made by December 31 of the current program year and incentive requests must be received by

Energy Efficiency and Green Building Standards for State Buildings


In March, 2006, Wisconsin enacted SB 459, the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Act. With respect to energy efficiency, this bill requires the Department of Administration (DOA) to prescribe and annually review energy efficiency standards for all equipment for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, water heating or cooling, lighting, refrigeration, or other function that consumes energy. These standards must meet or exceed federal EPA standards, federal energy management standards, and standards established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers.

Energy Efficiency Standard for Focus on Energy


In March 2006, Wisconsin enacted Act 141 (2005), which requires the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (WPSC) to revise goals, priorities, and measurable targets for energy efficiency programs every 4 years.  Funding is provided by ratepayers to the utilities' statewide energy efficiency program (Focus on Energy) in order to achieve these goals, with the funding levels increasing each year. Utilities are required to spend 1.2% of annual operating revenues to fund both energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. 

Energy Efficiency Goals 

Energy efficiency goals are through the Quadrennial

Focus on Energy Program


Focus on Energy provides information, financial assistance, technical assistance and other services to residents, businesses, schools, institutions and local governments on energy efficiency and renewable energy*. Financial assistance takes the form of rebates, grants and loans. The program was initially created by Act 9 of 1999 as a public benefit fund (PBF), which also provided energy assistance programs for low-income residents (the Home Energy Plus Program). 

Each electric and natural gas investor-owned utility is required to spend 1.2% of the latest 3-year average of its gross operating

Green Power Purchasing


Note: The green power purchasing goal has a target date of 2011. It has not been increased subsequently.

Pursuant to S.B. 459 enacted in March 2006, Wisconsin's Departments of Administration, Corrections, Health and Family Services, Public Instruction, Veterans Affairs, and the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System have a goal of purchasing or generating 10% of their power from renewable energy by December 31, 2007, and 20% by December 31, 2011. In July 2008 the Governor announced that the state had completed a green electricity purchase of 92,400 megawatt-hours (MWh),

Home Performance with ENERGY STAR - Xcel Energy Customers


Note: Xcel Energy will double Focus on Energy incentives.

Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® offers homeowners instant discounts for making recommended air sealing and insulation improvements. A home energy assessment is the
first step. Energy assessments are performed by certified Home Performance Trade Allies.
These contractors are trained to identify comfort and health issues and will
provide  personalized recommendations and access to the rewards.

Energy Assessments vary in scope, length and cost depending the age, size and condition of your home. A typical assessment includes an inspection of

Home Performance with ENERGY STAR: Whole Home Improvements


Focus on Energy offers in-home energy audits and cash incentives for installing select recommended efficiency measures. Energy consultants inspect home energy systems, help identify the most effective measures for increasing home efficiency, and assist participants in applying for incentives. The audit itself costs $200-$400, reduced to $50 for Tier 2-eligible customers. Incentives of up to $2,250 are available for insulation and sealing improvements.  To determine if you qualify for Tier 1 or 2 benefits, find your household size and household income in the State Median Income (SMI) chart on

Home Performance: Heating and Cooling


The Focus on Energy Program offers the Home Performance: Heating and Cooling Program to eligible residents for purchasing and installing furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, air sealing, attic insulation, and water heaters. Improvements must meet the program’s efficiency and equipment standards in order to be eligible for an award. Equipment should be installed prior to submitting an application and should come from the list of pre-qualified equipment listed on the program web site.  

Equipment must be installed between January 1, 2017 and June 30 2017 and applications must be submitted no later

Interconnection Standards


In February 2004, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission adopted interconnection standards for distributed generation (DG) systems up to 15 megawatts (MW) in capacity. All investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and municipal utilities are required to abide by the standard provisions. Electric cooperatives are encouraged -- but not required -- to adopt the state standards. The rules categorize DG systems by capacity and provide for several levels of interconnection review, as follows:

  • Category 1: 20 kilowatts (kW) or less
  • Category 2: larger than 20 kW, but no larger than 200 kW
  • Category

Lighting Discount Program


Focus on Energy partners with retailers around Wisconsin to offer discounts on select ENERGY STAR® qualified products in stores. You must be a customer of a utility that participates in Focus on Energy to receive the discounts.

Discounts are available only at participating retailers and apply only to select lighting products for a limited time, while supplies last. Limit of 10 LED packages per customer. Discounts do not apply to ENERGY STAR® qualified fixtures, fans, or lamps.

Local Option - Energy-Efficiency Improvement Loans


Note:  In 2010, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which has authority over mortgage underwriters Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, directed these enterprises against purchasing mortgages of homes with a PACE lien due to its senior status above a mortgage. Most residential PACE activity subsided following this directive; however, some residential PACE programs are now operating with loan loss reserve funds, appropriate disclosures, or other protections meant to address FHFA's concerns. Commercial PACE programs were not directly affected by FHFA’s actions, as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do

Madison Gas & Electric - Clean Power Partner Solar Buyback Program


The Clean Power Partners Program has reached the 1 MW cap. Applicants can be placed on a waiting list or participate in MGE's net metering program.

Customer-generators enrolled in the Madison Gas & Electric (MGE) green power purchase program (Green Power Tomorrow) are eligible to receive a special rate for the power produced from solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Under this program, the electricity produced from 1 to 10 kilowatt (kW-DC) PV systems will be purchased by MGE at a rate of $0.25/kilowatt-hour (kWh). This rate will apply to all electricity produced by the system. As the program

New Homes Program


Focus on Energy's New Homes Program certifies homes that are built more efficient than the current Wisconsin Building Code. Incentives are available for new homes that are at least 25% more efficient than the current Wisconsin Building Code, and are claimed by the builder or the homeowner that serves as the general contractor and holds the permits.

In order to participate in the program, interested customers can choose a builder associated with the program through the Focus on Energy website, or have their builder of choice join the program by filling out a on-line Trade Ally Application.

Renewable Energy Competitive Incentive Program


Wisconsin Focus on Energy offers a competitive grant to support the deployment of large renewable energy projects. The Renewable Energy Competitive Incentive Program (RECIP) provides incentives for cost-effective renewable energy systems installed at eligible Wisconsin organizations through a competitive request for proposals (RFP) process that occurs twice per year. Grant recipients and projects must be located in a participating electric or gas utility's service territory (see here for participating utilities).

A project’s incentive amount is determined based on the estimated first year net

Renewable Energy Sales Tax Exemptions


Wisconsin has two sales tax exemptions that apply to renewable energy. Legislation enacted in 1979 exempts wood sold as a fuel for residential use from the state sales and use tax (Wis. Stat. § 77.54(30)). Residential use means use in a structure or portion of a structure which is the person's permanent residence. A clause was added in 2007 expanding the exemption to include sales of all biomass -- as defined in Wis. Stat. § 196.378 (1) (ar) -- used as fuel for residential use. This definition includes wood, energy crops, biological wastes, biomass residues, and landfill gas.

The original

Renewable Rewards Program


Focus on Energy offers rebates for residential solar electric (PV) and geothermal heat pump systems. Rebates are available on a first-come, first-served basis while funds are available.

Once receiving a confirmation, the equipment must be installed within 10 weeks. A final Reward Application must be submitted after the installation.

The solar electric (PV) rebate is 12% of the installed cost, with a maximum of $2,000 for residential customers and $4,000 for business customers. 

The rebate for geothermal heat pump systems is $650.

Additional program information and application materials

River Falls Municipal Utilities - Distributed Solar Tariff


Note: The program is no longer accepting applications, check the program website for updates.

River Falls Municipal Utilities (RFMU), a member of WPPI Energy, offers a special energy purchase rate to its customers that generate electricity using solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The special rate, $0.30/kilowatt-hour (kWh), is available to all the RFMU customers on a first-come, first-served basis for systems up to 4 kilowatts (kW). The RFMU program is part of a larger solar buyback program being offered by WPPI to its member utilities, which has a total program limit of 300 kW.

RFMU was

River Falls Municipal Utilities - Renewable Energy Finance Program


River Falls Municipal Utilities (RFMU) offers loans of $2,500 - $50,000 to its residential customers for the installation of photovoltaic (PV), solar thermal, geothermal, wind electric systems. The program will also support the installation of energy efficiency measures in connection with a qualifying renewable energy project, provided that the renewable energy portion of the project comprises at least 50% of project costs. Systems that generate renewable electricity must be connected to the RFMU distribution grid. Loan terms vary by project, but may range from 5 -20 years at a current

River Falls Municipal Utilities - Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program


River Falls Municipal Utility (RFMU), in conjunction with the Wisconsin Focus on Energy program, offers a variety of rebates to residential electric customers for upgrading to energy efficient equipment. Incentives currently exist for refrigerator and freezer recycling, A/C system tune-ups, water heater upgrades, and programmable thermostats. RFMU's Multi-Family Energy Savings Program also provides a host of incentives for energy efficient upgrades to condos and apartments. RFMU is also encouraging its customers to plant trees around their homes for the energy saving and environmental

Solar and Wind Rights


Wisconsin has several laws that protect a resident's right to install and operate a solar or wind energy system. These laws cover zoning restrictions by local governments, private land use restrictions, and system owner rights to unobstructed access to resources. Wisconsin permitting rules and model policy for small wind can be found here. The state's original laws, enacted in 1982, have subsequently been amended and expanded numerous times.

Limitations on local zoning restrictions

First, under Wis. Stat. § 66.0401, local governments -- counties, towns, cities and villages -- may not place

Wind Siting Rules and Model Small Wind Ordinance


Permitting Rules

In September 2009, the Governor of Wisconsin signed S.B. 185 (Act 40) directing the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) to establish statewide wind energy siting rules. PSC Docket 1-AC-231 was created to conduct the rulemaking, requiring the PSC to convene an advisory council composed of various interested stakeholders (e.g. developers, political subdivisions, environmental groups, landowners, etc.). In December 2010, the Commission adopted the wind siting rules (PSC 128). The rules were scheduled to take effect on March 1, 2011, but on that date, the Joint Committee