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Incentives/Policies for Renewable Energy

Printable Version
Renewable Portfolio Standard   

Last DSIRE Review: 12/14/2012
Program Overview:
State: Wisconsin
Incentive Type: Renewables Portfolio Standard
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Solar Water Heat, Solar Thermal Electric, Solar Thermal Process Heat, Photovoltaics, Landfill Gas, Wind, Biomass, Hydroelectric, Geothermal Electric, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Municipal Solid Waste, CHP/Cogeneration, Solar Light Pipes; Biomass Thermal; Densified Fuel Pellets; Pyrolysis; Synthetic Gas; Biogas, Anaerobic Digestion, Small Hydroelectric, Tidal Energy, Wave Energy, Biodiesel, Fuel Cells using Renewable Fuels
Applicable Sectors: Utility, Municipal Utility, Investor-Owned Utility, Rural Electric Cooperative
Standard:Statewide target of 10% by 2015; requirement varies by utility
Technology Minimum:No
Credit Trading:Yes (M-RETS); limitations apply
Credit Transfers Accepted From:None
Credit Transfers Accepted To:M-RETS into MIRECS, NAR, NC-RETS
(Refers to tracking system compatibility only, not RPS eligibility. Please see statutes and regulations for information on facility eligibility)
Web Site:
Authority 1:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
Wis. Stat. ยง 196.378
10/27/1999 (subsequently amended)
Authority 2:
Date Effective:
Chapter PSC 118
Authority 3:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
S.B. 273
Authority 4:
PSC Docket 1-AC-234
Authority 5:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
S.B. 81
Authority 6:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
CR 10-147

In 1998 Wisconsin enacted Act 204, requiring regulated utilities in eastern Wisconsin to install to an aggregate total of 50 MW of new renewable-based electric capacity by December 31, 2000. In October 1999 Wisconsin enacted Act 9, becoming the first state to enact a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) without having restructured its electric-utility industry. Wisconsin's RPS originally required investor-owned utilities and electric cooperatives to obtain at least 2.2% of the electricity sold to customers from renewable-energy resources by 2012. Legislation enacted in March 2006 increased renewable energy requirements and established an overall statewide renewable energy goal of 10% by December 31, 2015. The requirements are as follows:

  • For the years 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, each electric provider  (including investor-owned and municipal utilities, and electric cooperatives) -- may not decrease its renewable-energy percentage below the electric provider's average renewable-energy percentage for 2001, 2002 and 2003.
  • For the year 2010, each electric provider must increase its renewable-energy percentage by at least two points above the electric provider's average renewable-energy percentage for 2001, 2002 and 2003.
  • For the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, each electric provider may not decrease its renewable-energy percentage below the electric provider's renewable-energy percentage for 2010.
  • For the year 2015, each electric provider must increase its renewable-energy percentage by at least six points above the electric provider's average renewable-energy percentage for 2001, 2002 and 2003.
  • For each year after 2015, each electric provider may not decrease its renewable-energy percentage below the electric provider's renewable-energy percentage for 2015.

Electric providers, wholesale suppliers and customers of electric providers may petition the PSC for an extension of a compliance deadline. By June 1, 2016, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) must determine if the state has met a renewable-energy goal of 10% by December 31, 2015. If the goal has not been achieved, the PSC must indicate why the goal was not achieved and must determine how it may be achieved.

Eligible Technologies

Qualifying electricity generating resources include tidal and wave action, fuel cells using renewable fuels, solar thermal electric and photovoltaics (PV), wind power, geothermal, hydropower, and biomass (including landfill gas). In May 2010, the RPS was amended to allow certain resources that produce a measurable and verifiable displacement of conventional electricity resources to also qualify as eligible resources (i.e., non-electric resources which displace electricity). Furthermore, the new law permits electricity generated (or electricity displacement) by certain waste resource technologies to qualify for the standard. The PSC developed rules in Docket 1-AC-234 (effective April 2012) defining the additional eligible technologies, including: solar water heaters; solar light pipes; ground source heat pumps; and installations that generate thermal output from biomass, biogas, synthetic gas, densified fuel pellets, or fuel produced by pyrolysis. The rules also established standards for measuring and verifying non-electric technologies.

Renewable energy generated outside of Wisconsin is eligible, but the electricity must be used to meet a provider's retail load obligation in Wisconsin (i.e., it must be delivered to Wisconsin customers).

Electricity generated by hydropower receives special treatment. For small hydropower (less than 60 MW), utilities receive credit for the sum of (1) all hydropower purchased in a reporting year, (2) the average of the amounts of hydropower generated by facilities owned or operated by the utility for 2001, 2002 and 2003, adjusted to reflect the permanent removal from service of any of those facilities and adjusted to reflect any capacity increases from improvements made after January 1, 2004; and (3) the amount of hydropower generated in the reporting year by facilities owned or operated by the electric provider that are initially placed in service on or after January 1, 2004. As a result of S.B. 81 enacted in July 2011, beginning December 31, 2015 (the effective date of S.B. 81), electricity from large hydropower facilities (60 MW or more) can be counted toward the RPS requirement if the facility was placed in service on or after December 31, 2010. Facilities in Manitoba, Canada are eligible if certain requirements are met.

Renewable Energy Certificates and Renewable Resource Credits

Under the RPS, electricity providers may create and sell or transfer both Renewable Resource Credits (RRCs) and Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).

  • A REC is defined as a certificate representing one MWh of total renewable energy that is physically metered with the net generation measured at a certified renewable facility's bus bar and that is delivered to a retail customer with the retail sale measured at the customer's meter. Transmission and distribution losses between the bus bar and the customer's meter are ignored.
  • An RRC is defined as either 1) a REC that exceed a utility's minimum requirements or 2) a certificate representing one MWh of displaced conventional electricity.

RRCs may be used in subsequent years; however, RECs that are not RRCs may only be used for compliance in the year that the REC was created. Existing installations that qualify as renewable energy resources are eligible to be counted towards a utility's compliance, however, only generation capacity (including incremental additions at existing installations) added after January 1, 2004 is eligible to generate tradable RRCs. An RRC created before January 1, 2004 could be used for compliance until December 31, 2011, after which it expired. An RRC generated after January 1, 2004 may be used for compliance up to 4 years after the year in which it was created.

The Wisconsin PSC was one of principal developers of the Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System (M-RETS) to be used for this purpose. Public reports detailing utility progress under the RRC program are available here on the M-RETS web site. The PSC is also required to submit a report to the Wisconsin legislature and governor every other year evaluating the impact of the RPS on the rates and revenue requirements of utilities. The most recent report was released in June 2012. In November 2012, the PSC accepted electric provider compliance reports, finding all electric providers and aggregators to be in compliance with the 2011 requirements.

  Public Information
Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
610 North Whitney Way
P.O. Box 7854
Madison, WI 53707-7854
Phone: (608) 266-5481
Phone 2: (888) 816-3831
Fax: (608) 266-3957
Web Site:
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Disclaimer: The information presented on the DSIRE web site provides an unofficial overview of financial incentives and other policies. It does not constitute professional tax advice or other professional financial guidance, and it should not be used as the only source of information when making purchasing decisions, investment decisions or tax decisions, or when executing other binding agreements. Please refer to the individual contact provided below each summary to verify that a specific financial incentive or other policy applies to your project.

While the DSIRE staff strives to provide the best information possible, the DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. make no representations or warranties, either express or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of the information. The DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. disclaim all liability of any kind arising out of your use or misuse of the information contained or referenced on DSIRE Web pages.

Copyright 2013 - 2014 North Carolina State University, under NREL Subcontract No. XEU-0-99515-01. Permission granted only for personal or educational use, or for use by or on behalf of the U.S. government. North Carolina State University prohibits the unauthorized display, reproduction, sale, and/or distribution of all or portions of the content of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) without prior, written consent.