Wisconsin renewable energy and energy efficiency

The state of Wisconsin is home to many renewable energy and energy efficiency programs across a wide range of technology types. These programs are available for residential, commercial, and utility-scale customers.

A history of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Wisconsin

Wisconsin has made significant strides in renewable energy and energy efficiency. On January 26, 1982, an order was issued by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin which required all utilities that it regulates to file tariffs allowing net metering to customers that generate electricity with up to 20 kW capacity systems. This order applies to municipal utilities and investor-owned utilities, but not to electric cooperatives.1 In 1999, Wisconsin became the first state in the US to create a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) without restructuring its electric utility industry. In March of 2006, Act 141 was enacted, which requires the Public Service Commission to revise its priorities, goals, and targets for energy efficiency programs every four years. Funding for this requirement is provided by ratepayers to Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's statewide energy efficiency program, which was initially founded in 2001 to provide information, incentives, and other services to residential and commercial customers. 2

Wisconsin's Renewable Portfolio Standard

In 1998, Wisconsin enacted Act 204, which required utilities in the eastern part of the state to install a total of 50 MW of new renewable electric capacity by December 31, 2000. In October of 1999, Wisconsin passed Act 9 and thus became the first state to enact a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) without having restructured its electric utility industry. Wisconsin's RPS required that 10% of the state's energy procurement come from renewable sources by December 31, 2015. Wisconsin's RPS applies to investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities, and electric cooperatives. Qualifying electricity generating resources include solar PV, wind power, geothermal, biomass, hydropower, biogas, landfill gas, solar thermal electric, fuel cells using renewable fuels, and tidal and wave action.3

Important renewable energy organizations in Wisconsin

One important organization in advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency is the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. On July 9, 1907, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission was founded, making it the first regulatory agency of its kind in the United States. The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin is led by three full-time commissioners who serve six year terms. These commissioners are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. The mission of the PSC is to ensure that efficient and reasonably priced quality utility services are provided to customers in the state.

Another important organization in furthering renewable energy and energy efficiency in Wisconsin is the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), founded in 2001. MISO is one of the largest ISOs in the world, with over $29 billion in gross market energy transactions annually. MISO operates across fifteen US states and the Manitoba province in Canada. MISO's cornerstones are operational excellence, effective communication, and customer service. MISO is led by an independent Board of Directors who serve three-year terms and are elected by the members of the organization. Members of the Board of Directors are also required to meet certain qualifications designed to ensure that MISO is led by capable individuals.

Another important organization in Wisconsin is Focus on Energy, founded in 2001. Focus on Energy is a statewide program that partners with utilities to provide commercial and residential customers with financial incentives, information, and other resources that encourage the development and implementation of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that may not have happened otherwise.

Utilities are also important organizations in furthering energy efficiency and renewable energy in Wisconsin. There are a total of 107 gas and electric utilities in the state of Wisconsin, including investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities, and cooperatives. Major utilities in the state include Wisconsin Power and Light Company, the largest in the state with over one million customers, Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, which serves around 446,000 customers in northeast and central Wisconsin, Northern States Power Company-Wisconsin, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy active in Wisconsin, and Madison Gas and Electric Company, which primarily serves the Madison metropolitan area.

Wisconsin programs

Wisconsin has many clean energy programs available. Listed below are the current offerings:


  1. DSIRE. “Net Metering.” Accessed October 28, 2020.
  2. DSIRE. “Energy Efficiency Standard for Focus on Energy.” Accessed October 28, 2020.
  3. Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. “The Wisconsin Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).” Accessed October 28, 2020.

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