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Incentives/Policies for Renewables & Efficiency

Printable Version
Renewable Portfolio Standard   

Last DSIRE Review: 10/13/2014
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
Credit Trading:Yes (M-RETS); limitations apply
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:
PSC Docket 1-AC-234
Authority 4:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
S.B. 81
Authority 5:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
CR 10-147
Authority 6:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
A.B. 594
Authority 7:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
A.B. 596

In 1998 Wisconsin enacted Act 204, requiring regulated utilities in eastern Wisconsin to install to an aggregate total of 50 Megawatts (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.

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, biomass, and landfill gas. The RPS was amended in May 2010 to allow certain resources that produce a measurable and verifiable displacement of conventional electricity resources to also qualify as eligible resources, and the PSC developed rules in Docket 1-AC-234 (effective April 2012) defining the additional eligible technologies, which include 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.

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:

  • All hydropower purchased in a reporting year;
  • The average of the amounts of hydropower generated by facilities owned or operated by the utility in the BRP, 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
  • 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.

Beginning December 31, 2015, electricity from large hydropower facilities (60 MW or greater) can be counted toward the RPS requirement if the facility was placed in service on or after December 31, 2010 (see S.B. 81 from 2011). Facilities in Manitoba, Canada are also eligible if certain requirements are met.


Legislation enacted in March 2006 strengthened the renewable energy requirements and established an overall statewide renewable energy goal of 10% by December 31, 2015. 

  • For the years 2006 to 2009, each electric provider (including investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities, and electric cooperatives) may not decrease its renewable energy percentage below the electric provider's baseline renewable percentage (BRP), defined as 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 percentage points above its BRP.
  • For the years 2011 to 2014, each electric provider may not decrease its renewable-energy percentage below its renewable energy percentage for 2010.
  • For the year 2015, each electric provider must increase its renewable energy percentage by at least six percentage points above its BRP.
  • For each year after 2015, each electric provider may not decrease its renewable energy percentage below its renewable energy percentage for 2015.

In April 2014, Wisconsin’s governor signed A.B. 594, creating an exception for electric providers whose BRP exceeds 12% and whose renewable energy percentage exceeds 14% in 2014. Electric providers who qualify must maintain a renewable energy percentage for the years 2015 and thereafter of only two percentage points above its BRP.

Electric providers, wholesale suppliers, and customers of electric providers may petition the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) for an extension of a compliance deadline. By June 1, 2016, the 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.

Credit Multipliers

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 megawatt-hour (MWh) of total renewable energy that is both physically metered with the net generation measured at a certified renewable facility's bus bar and 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.

An RRC generated after January 1, 2004, may be used for compliance up to 4 years after the year in which it was created; 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, but only generation capacity (including incremental additions at existing installations) added after January 1, 2004, is eligible to generate tradable RRCs. RRCs created before January 1, 2004, could be used for compliance until December 31, 2011, after which they expired. Under A.B. 596 signed into law in April 2014, the PSC must develop new rules to allow credits to be created for purpose of compliance with the RPS regardless of when the source used to create the credit was placed in service.


The Wisconsin PSC was one of principal developers of the Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System (M-RETS). Public reports detailing utility progress under the RRC program are available here. 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 2014, finding all electric providers and aggregators to be in compliance with the 2013 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 2014 - 2015 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.