Solar power is becoming a popular commodity in Wisconsin, which now ranks 20th in the nation for the number of solar panels installed. In a state where coal accounts for 62 percent of the state’s electricity generation, tax incentives and rebates make solar a viable option for residents looking to reduce the costs of their energy. Find out how to use solar in Wisconsin.
To determine a grade for each state, our researchers and solar experts analyzed data on crucial solar-advancement criteria from the following sources:
- Rebates, Tax Credits, and Tax Exemptions from Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency;
- Electricity Rates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration;
- Renewable Energy Policy from NC Clean Energy Technology Center;
- Interconnection Ease from Freeing The Grid;
- Photovoltaic Potential from the Energy Department
We determined a rank from 1 to 10 for each state in each category. We then combined the scores with the following weights and assigned an overall grade for each state. Our goal is to encourage those considering solar for their homes to get a basic understanding of solar potential in their areas and discover the best opportunities for clean energy available.
Incentives & Rebates, 40%
Electricity Rate, 15%
Renewable Energy Policy, 30%
Interconnection Ease, 5%
Photovoltaic Potential, 10%
How Expensive is Electricity in Wisconsin?
Electricity in Wisconsin has become quite expensive, with residential costs ranging from 13.84 to 14.69 cents/kWh in 2015. And that price has steadily increased over the last few years, from $.13/kWh in 2011. This continues to be above the national average which hovers at around $.11/kWh, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It is no wonder that solar has become more popular in Wisconsin, with $7 million invested in 2014 for this renewable energy source.
Cost of Residential Electricity
Data from U.S. Energy Information Administration
*as of Q3 2015
Library of Resources
Policies & Incentives for Solar Users
Wisconsin residents can take advantage of a wide range of money-saving programs when choosing to go solar. Focus on Energy rebates can help homeowners spend less and get a strong return on investment when purchasing a solar system. And thanks to net metering, those who go solar can actually earn money back on any power they generate but do not use. Add in increased home value, and using solar power can make money for some residents.
A rebate program applicable toward solar panel energy systems, which must be installed within 10 weeks of obtaining the rebate. The rebate amount offered is at $600 per kW for a maximum amount of $2,400.River Falls Municipal Utilities – Distributed Solar Tariffs:
The utility company offers to buy the energy created by solar panels at a rate of 30 cents per kWh, as long as the generator belongs to customers of RFMU. The total program limit is 300kW.River Falls Municipal Utilities – Renewable Energy Finance Program (PACE):
The program provides loans from $2,500 up to $50,000 per property for the installation of solar panels, thermal, geothermal and wind electric systems, as well as energy efficiency renovations. Repayment occurs through property tax fees.Madison Gas & Electric – Clean Power Partner Solar Buyback Program:
Customers part of the green power purchasing program by Madison Gas & Electric are able to sell excess power generated by solar panel systems at a special rate of 25 cents per kWh.
A loan program that offers homeowners the ability to borrow up to $20,000 to install solar water heat or solar panel energy systems.
Focus on Energy offers 50% or less of loan funds at 0% interest for the deployment of qualified renewable energy projects.
Learn more about the state’s goal to use 10% of all energy from renewable energy sources, such as renewable fuels, solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, and bio-based energy.Net Metering:
Explore Wisconsin’s requirement that all regulated utilities allow net metering to customers that generate up to 20kW of electricity through renewable and alternative energy sources.Solar and Wind Rights:
Find zoning laws and other use restrictions that protect Wisconsin residents to install and operate solar and wind energy systems.Interconnection Standards and Guidelines:
Find information about Wisconsin’s adopted interconnection standards in 2004 for distributed generation systems that possess a maximum capacity of 15 MW.Green Power Purchasing:
Investigate goals to purchase or generate 10% of state government power through renewable energy sources by 2007 and 20% by 2011, as long as the generation is cost effective and technically feasible.City of Madison – Solar and Wind Access and Planning Laws Energy Efficiency and Green Building Standards for State Buildings Focus on Energy Program Energy Efficiency Standard for Focus on Energy
None that specifically targets residential properties.
None that specifically targets commercial properties.
Value added by biogas, synthetic gas, solar or wind energy systems can qualify for exemption from general property taxes. Exemptions can be received by filing with a local assessor.Renewable Energy Sales Tax Exemptions:
Offers two, 100% sales tax exemptions for eligible purchases of various biomass and renewable energy sources (solar, wind, anaerobic digesters, etc.). To be eligible, the renewable energy generators must produce at least 200 watts of power a day.
Wisconsin Companies, Contractors & Installers
There are a number of solar panel installing companies in Wisconsin ready to help consumers adopt a green energy system for their homes.
This company offers complete solar solution leasing and financing.
Where it operatesRiver Falls, WI
Year of opening2009
Specializing in solar PV installations.
Where it operatesBaraboo, WI
Year of opening2011
This full-service solar company serves western Wisconsin.
Where it operatesEmerald, WI
Year of opening2010
Providing solar services to the entire Midwest, Aur Solar specializes in site assessments, system design and residential and commercial systems.
Where it operatesMilwaukee, WI
Year of opening1998
This family-owned company has three locations and provides a number of renewable energy options, including solar.
Where it operatesHudson, WI
Year of opening1990
H&H’s mission is to promote renewable resources as an alternative to traditional energy.
Where it operatesMadison, WI
Year of opening1955
Next Step designs, installs and services solar systems and can also consult to offer creative solutions for its clients.
Where it operatesEau Claire, WI
Year of opening
This solar installer and equipment dealer is independently owned and operated.
Where it operatesAmherst, WI
Year of opening1979
Part of U.S. Solar Mounts, Pipkin Electric designs and installs solar racking systems.
Where it operatesSparta, WI
Year of opening
Radtke’s educates the public and provides both technical services and installation for solar electricity and other renewable resources.
Where it operatesWisconsin Rapids, WI
Year of opening2013
URE is a renewable energy installation company and works in partnership with organizations like Focus on Energy.
Where it operatesPrairie du Sac, WI
Year of opening2008
Wisconsin Solar Panel Resources
For additional information about the state of solar and other renewable energy resources in Wisconsin, visit the links below.
Held in June in Custer, WI, this fair helps to educate the public and raise awareness about alternative forms of energy. It hosts many events throughout the year.
Explore this nonprofit group, incorporated in 1990 to help promote renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable living.
Learn about renewable energy policies for the state. Renew Wisconsin advocates for renewable energy, educates the public and collaborates on initiatives that will benefit renewable energy.
Founded in 2010 as an affiliate of Solar Energy Industries Association, WiSEA supports all types of solar energy and its membership is made up of manufacturers, installers, project developers and other professionals and interested members of the solar industry.
Find out more about this government office that is responsible for helping businesses and citizens through clean energy projects.