Renewable Energy Technology Incentives in Wisconsin
Wisconsin is another state where coal powered electricity generation is dominant, probably because of its large industrial sector and huge local resources. Having said that, by the end of 2013 the state was producing over 10 % of electricity from renewable technology, split between wind, biomass and hydroelectric, two years ahead of its RPS target.
The biggest contribution of renewable energy comes from wind power in the state which at times has accounted for 65% of the split. The Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center has a capacity of 145 MW delivered through 88 turbines. Other major developments are the Forward Wind Energy Center and Shirley Wind Farm. The majority of the hydroelectric in the state is administered by WE Energies and covers 13 dams that produce a total of 89 MW of capacity.
Solar is low down on the list in Wisconsin despite the prospect of a good return on investment for installations. The solar industry is small but growing with 175 companies providing employment for nearly 2,000 workers. The total capacity for the state is only 25 MW with the largest installation, the Jefferson Solar Project, producing 11 MW. Biomass is developing in the state and there are plenty of resources to support it. A new plant planned by WE Energy will add a different dimension to Wisconsin’s renewable mix and could see further developments in the future.
Solar PV Incentives in Wisconsin
While solar uptake is small compared to renewables like wind in Wisconsin, there is plenty of opportunity for the industry to expand and thrive. Installers benefit from the 30% Federal Tax Rebate and with property tax incentives such as the Biogas, Solar, and Wind Energy Equipment Exemption there are plenty of options for both commercial and residential solar. There is also access to low cost loans and grants including the Renewable Energy Competitive Incentive Program which has a fund of $3.5 million.
Solar PV Case Study in Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a cash purchase state so there is no facility for leasing solar panels at the present time. The average cost of a 5 kW installation is lower than in many other states at $17,600 because of the Focus on Energy Rebate. Add in the Federal Tax Rebate of 30% and the reduction in electricity bills and you should expect to pay off any investment after 13 years, with a more than healthy net profit over 25 years of $17,000. That doesn’t take into account the rise in sale value of your home by around $16,000 at today’s prices.
Solar Thermal Incentives in Wisconsin
As in other states, solar thermal is becoming a popular and economical method of getting hot water for both homes and businesses. As well as property tax exemptions and low cost loans and grants there are rebates from utility companies such as the Eau Claire Energy Cooperative Non-Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Programs.
Small Hydro Incentives in Wisconsin
While Wisconsin has a relatively strong hydroelectric infrastructure there is room for more development. There is also potential for the increasing micro hydro for remote communities and agricultural land where advantage can be take of irrigation pipes and rivers. There are corporate tax credits for commercial concerns and the Federal Tax Rebate as well as federal grants available.
Geothermal Incentives in Wisconsin
Geothermal is growing in popularity across the US especially for buildings that have a high degree of insulation and the available garden space to install a network of piping. Ground source heat pumps can be expensive but the return on investment is usually quite good and also installations benefit from grants and state utility rebates including the Riverland Energy Cooperative Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program.
Biomass Incentives in Wisconsin
With plenty of natural resources, biomass could be one technology that starts to improve in Wisconsin. One area for development could be anaerobic digestion particularly for farms. The conversion to wood chip burners and boilers for both residential and commercial properties could also be a factor. Various tax exemptions are available including the Woody Biomass Harvesting and Processing Tax Credit as well as loan and grant facilities.
Wind Power Incentives in Wisconsin
There are plenty of possibilities to further develop wind power in the state including for farms and remote communities which are off grid and could benefit from their own electricity supply. Installation is more expensive than some other technologies such as solar but return on investment can be good depending on the wind conditions. There are incentives such as the Federal Tax Rebate available and installers can draw on the Focus on Energy Program. With property and corporate tax credits available as well as low cost loans and grants for rural areas, this could be further growth area for the state in the future.
Wisconsin has done a lot to develop its renewable energy infrastructure in recent times and the next decade should see some real changes as solar, wind and biomass are developed. As with many of the northern states, finding the right mix that can help wean dependence off fossil fuels is imperative to this success.
You can find out more about renewable technology incentives in Wisconsin on the DSIRE website.