How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Solar Power in Wisconsin
Home of the first hydroelectric plant, installed in 1882, Wisconsin is used to embracing progressive energy technology. That’s why this state hasn’t balked at solar power, enacting a renewable portfolio and legislation that makes solar energy streamlined and affordable– especially in cities like River Falls, Milwaukee, and Madison.
When you install solar power in your Wisconsin home you may be eligible for several different cost mitigating incentives, so it pays to become aware of the programs out there for solar households like yours. To get you started, here’s an overview of solar policy and installation in your state.
Wisconsin Solar Productivity
While no one would ever confuse Wisconsin for the tropics, the area gets more sunlight than you’d think, enough to generate an average 4 to 4.5 kilowatt hours of solar power per day according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. In fact, when NREL calculated the solar intensity for all the states it found that Wisconsin has an average UV index level of 0.81, putting its solar potential above states with already-robust solar industries such as Vermont and Oregon.
Wisconsin Solar Popularity
In 2015, Wisconsin installed 5 megawatts of solar power, according to industry estimates, meaning there’s plenty of room for growth in this area. The state is ranked 30th in the nation for solar capacity, but in the Badger State, as in the rest of the U.S., solar is slowly starting to take off, and it won’t be long before business is booming in the solar energy sector.
Average Wisconsin Residential Electricity Use and Cost
Wisconsin’s no stranger to fierce wintry weather, with accumulation totals averaging around 50 inches of snowfall a year! That means residents here spend more than their fair share on heating costs, and with electricity prices averaging above national spending levels they could definitely use some respite on hefty energy bills. Luckily, this state also leads the charge in energy efficiency—the average home here uses a lot less energy per month than the rest of the U.S., totalling around 694 kilowatt hours, compared to 911 kilowatt hours. That reputation for low energy use makes Wisconsinites prime candidates for a little supplemental renewable energy in the form of solar photovoltaics.
Installing Solar in Wisconsin
There are over 20 solar installers working throughout Wisconsin, so you’ll have many options when you make your choice of contractor. Unfortunately, larger national companies, like Sungevity, are not yet operating here, so it may be harder to access alternative purchase strategies like solar leases. Additionally, if you live in Madison, you’ll need to make sure that the installer you hire complies with the city’s solar contractor licensing requirements, so be sure to ask your installer before you sign a contract.
Wisconsin State Solar Support
In many ways, solar energy in Wisconsin is a grassroots effort—its rural electricity co-ops that are pushing forth new large-scale solar installations, rather than larger utilities as a result of directives from the state government. That may be changing soon, however. Early in 2016 Xcel Energy announced plans to install two 1-megawatt community solar gardens in La Crosse and Eau Claire counties, which should serve many residents across Wisconsin.
However, although the state has been criticized for not pursuing solar aggressively the legislature here still enacted a fairly robust renewable portfolio standard, with a goal of purchasing at least 10 percent of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2015– a target it met. Meanwhile, it also requires all utilities operating in the state to contribute at least 1.2 percent of their annual operating revenue to a renewable energy fund that supports clean energy incentives for residents and businesses. These acts demonstrate the state’s support for solar initiatives, while providing a clear funding source for such projects. All of that, combined with the fact that solar is becoming more affordable than ever before, make America’s Dairyland a great place for residential solar power.
Wisconsin State Solar Incentives
Wisconsin provides several incentives to make solar energy more attractive and affordable to its residents. In fact, this state has some very lucrative programs that can heavily reduce costs if you want to install solar equipment on your home. However, some are offered only on a first-come, first-served basis, so it pays to get in now while these incentives are still available.
Net Metering: All investor-owned and municipal utilities in Wisconsin are required to offer grid-connected solar customers net metering, which credits solar households’ energy use against excess electricity they return to the grid. Details of net metering programs vary from utility to utility; however, generally, excess generation is credited at the utility’s retail rate and credits can be rolled over to be applied to the customer’s next monthly bill.
Solar Energy Equipment Exemption: Solar energy equipment tends to raise the property taxes where it’s installed, which is great for your home equity, but not so easy on the wallet. However, Wisconsinites are exempt from paying any additional property taxes generated from the installation of solar equipment, meaning that you’ll get all the added benefit on your valuation without the extra cost.
Renewable Rewards Program: Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy Program offers rebates to solar powered households on a first-come, first-served basis. Rebates for solar photovoltaic systems are worth $600 per kilowatt of rated system capacity, up to $2,400. Systems must be oriented in accordance with program guidelines. Details are available on the program’s website.
Renewable Energy Sales Tax Exemptions: All solar energy systems purchased in Wisconsin is eligible for a 100 percent sales tax exemption, as long as the system can generate up to 200 watts of power per day.
Additionally, when you install solar energy in your Wisconsin home you’ll also be eligible for a federal tax incentive as well. The Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit will return you 30 percent of your solar equipment costs, as long as it is powerful enough to offset at least half of your home’s energy demand. To apply, complete file IRS form 5695 when you file your federal income taxes.
Local Wisconsin Solar Incentives
Meanwhile, there are some local utilities that offer deep rebates and generous loan programs for their solar producing customers. Here are a few of those programs:
River Falls Municipal Utilities Renewable Energy Finance Program: Customers serviced by River Falls Municipal Utilities are eligible for a loan of up to $50,000 to use towards the purchase of solar energy equipment. Loans are offered at a 4 percent interest rate with terms between 5 to 20 years.
River Falls Municipal Utilities Distributed Solar Tariff: Solar producing grid-connected customers of River Falls Municipal Utilities are eligible for a production based incentive worth $0.30 per kilowatt hour, for a period of ten years.
Madison Gas and Electric Clean Power Partner Solar Buyback Program: Madison Gas and Electric Clean Power will purchase renewable energy from solar customers at a rate of $0.25 per kilowatt hour. There is currently a waiting list for to participate in the program.
Milwaukee Shines Solar Financing: The City of Milwaukee offers low-interest loans to its residents to use towards the purchase of solar energy systems or solar hot water heating. The maximum loan amount is $20,000, and interest rates range from between the prime rate plus 1.5 percent to the prime rate plus 2.25 percent. There is a 15 year maximum loan term.