Wisonsin’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is intended to increase use of renewable resources in the state by establishing the minimum amount of renewable energy that the state’s electricity providers must sell in a given year. This legally-established renewable energy procurement goal gradually increases over time to meet the overall target of 10% renewable power by 2015.
The state profile below explores the design of this policy, highlighting the factors that influence the success of Wisconsin’s RPS goals and the tradeoffs inherent to it. Once you’re comfortable with the information on this page, you can evaluate the policy’s expected viability with the RPS Feasibility Calculator. You can also use the calculator to change the policy requirements, trajectory, cost cap, and more, to see how altering Wisconsin’s policy design affects its success.
- 10% of the state's retail electric sales from must be from renewable sources by 2015
- No carve-outs
- No legally defined cost cap
Carve-outs can create economic opportunities in the state by introducing new or promising technologies into the market. However, these standards limit the utilities’ ability to substitute between renewable energy sources, potentially increasing the cost of the policy. Wisconsin’s RPS does not require specific technologies to meet its annual
Compare the goal established in the RPS to what is being achieved.
The following chart compares the variety of sources currently used to generate Wisconsin’s electricity. The color of each bar is indicative of the carbon intensity of each source.
Cost Cap Details
Unlike some states, Wisconsin does not have a cost cap or limit on the potential increase in electricity costs as a result of this policy. Rather, the Public Service Commission (PSC) allows utilities to all recover costs associated with meeting the RPS (including those incurred by exceeding the RPS requirement). Therefore, the cost of the RPS is only limited by the same system which regulates pre-RPS electricity costs in Wisconsin. Using the RPS Feasibility Calculator you can act as the PSC of Wisconsin, determining what level of costs will lead to a viable RPS.
Historic retail prices (¢ / kWh)
The above chart presents historical data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) on the price at which residential customers can purchase electricity. Typically, states set explicit cost caps relative to the retail price (as opposed to the lower wholesale price).
Wisconsin enacted Act 9 in 1999, becoming the first state to introduce a RPS without having restructured its electric-utility industry. Originally the RPS required 2.2% of electricity sold to be from renewables by 2012. In 2006, the goal was increased to 10% by 2015. Providers can petition the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) to extend the compliance deadline. Each utility in the state has an individual trajectory determined by the PSC based on the utilities ‘renewable energy baseline’.
RPS Technical Details
|Eligible Technologies||Photovoltaics, Wind, Biomass, Biodiesel, Hydroelectric, Solar Water Heat, Solar Thermal Electric, Solar Thermal Process Heat, Geothermal Electric, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Landfill Gas, Municipal Solid Waste, Biogas, Anaerobic Digestion, Tidal Energy, CHP/Cogeneration, Fuel Cells using Renewable Fuels|
|Geographic Eligibility||Renewable energy generated outside of Wisconsin is eligible, but only if the utility delivers it to customers in-state.|
|Percent of Total Load||100%|
|Sectors||Utility, Investor-Owned Utility, Municipal Utility, Rural Electric Cooperative|
Tools and other links
- Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) RPS data page—Datasets available for download in .xlsx format
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Energy Analysis Portal—Resources on renewable energy policies, and interactive web tools
- Energy Information Administration (EIA) U.S. Energy Mapping System—An interactive energy resource map with a myriad of data layers to explore
- DSIRE State RPS Page—Visit for detailed information on RPS and complete legislation
- PSC of Wiscosin’s RPS Program Page—Provides links to statute and reports related to Wisconsin’s RPS