State and Local Policy Database


State Scorecard Rank



15.5Scored out of 50Updated 10/2018
State Government
Score: 3.5 out of 5
State Government Summary List All

The state runs a major revolving loan program to help manufacturers invest in energy efficiency, as well as PACE financing. The state government leads by example by requiring energy-efficient public buildings and fleets and encouraging the use of energy savings performance contracts. Energy efficiency research is conducted at several institutions within the state.

Financial Incentives List All

Financial Incentive information for Wisconsin is provided by the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE Wisconsin). In addition to the state-funded incentives on DSIRE, Wisconsin has enabled Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing and one active program. For additional information on PACE, visit PACENation.

Last Updated: July 2017

Building Energy Disclosure List All

There is no disclosure policy in place.

Last Updated: July 2017

Public Building Requirements List All

Per Executive Order 63, signed in March 2012, all new state facilities are required to be designed to achieve a level of energy efficiency that meets or exceeds the commercial code requirement in effect on the date of the issuance of this Order by at least 10%, so long as such measures are cost-effective on a life-cycle basis.

While there is no explicit requirement for benchmarking or tracking of energy use in public buildings, agencies are required to submit energy plans that include estimated energy savings. To do so, many agencies choose to benchmark buildings.

Last Updated: July 2017

Fleets List All

The Wisconsin Department of Administration's fleet management policy requires all state agencies to collectively reduce gasoline use by at least 20% by 2010 and 50% by 2015 in state-owned vehicles as compared to the total amount used in 2006. In addition, state agencies must reduce petroleum-based diesel fuel use by 10% by 2010 and 25% by 2015.

The department shall, whenever feasible and cost-effective, encourage all state agencies to collectively reduce the usage of gasoline and diesel fuel in state-owned vehicles that is petroleum based by at least 20% for gasoline by 2015 and 10% for diesel by 2015 as compared to the total amount used in 2006.

Last Updated: July 2017

Energy Savings Performance Contracting List All

Former governor Jim Doyle signed an executive order to promote ESPCs in state buildings. The ESPC Program is housed in the Department of Administration (DOA), within the Division of State Facilities. Wisconsin provides a list of prequalified ESCOs and a guide to interested entities, which enumerates the process for attaining and ESPC. Since 2008, DOA has operated the state’s energy bond fund, which provides financing for energy savings performance contracting (ESPC) projects across all state facilities owned by agencies (including universities) that opt-in to the program. 

The bond fund supports the Performance Contracting Program administered by the Wisconsin Division of Facilities Development (DFD), which is part of the DOA. This program provides a method for the DOA to enter into a contract with a qualified energy service company (ESCO) on behalf of a state agency for development, implementation, verification, and repayment of one or more cost savings measures. Agencies benefit through reduced overall energy costs, improved facilities, and a reduction in energy consumption.

The ESCO candidates on the pre-approved list of providers work with agencies to identify energy conservation measures (ECMs) and have them implemented with no up-front capital expenditures. The expenses are paid through the energy savings that result. Energy bills are guaranteed by the ESCO to be reduced and the savings realized are drawn from the agency's utility account to pay back the bonds that financed this effort. This agreement may last over a term not to exceed 20 years which is the maximum bonding capability for energy efficiency work.

Last Updated: July 2017

Research & Development List All

Seventhwave (formerly Energy Center of Wisconsin) is an independent nonprofit that advances sustainability through energy consulting, continuing education, research and program design. It conducts technology and field research; education programs; program evaluation and market research; program development; and implementation. The organization is funded through state, ratepayer, private, and other sources, and features an award-winning program on building energy use in commercial new construction. 

Wisconsin Focus on Energy operates an Emerging Technology (ET) program that promotes emerging, industrial, energy efficiency technologies.  The program deploys and commercializes those emerging industrial technologies that have the potential for large, cost-effective energy savings and multiple installations in Wisconsin. The program can provide technology evaluations, development plans, and funding for businesses that have developed new technologies.

Solar Energy Lab (SEL) at University of Wisconsin emphasizes the application of engineering concepts to energy problems, including solar heating, PVs, dessicant and absorption cooling, and HVAC and air quality. Thermal energy storage and the optimal control of the heating and cooling processes are two of SEL’s main research areas that focus on energy savings in building systems. SEL partners with Solar Energy Applications Laboratory at Colorado State University, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to conduct cooperative research. SEL also received sponsorships from ASHRAE on building test facilities.

Last Updated: September 2017

Score: 3 out of 8
Buildings Summary List All

The state-developed residential code is based on the 2009 IECC. In May 2018, the state updated its commercial building energy codes to reference the 2015 IECC/ASHRAE 90.1-2013, albeit substantial weakening amendments. Wisconsin has completed a baseline compliance study and offers code training.

Residential Codes List All

The state-developed residential code, referred to as Wisconsin Administrative Chapter SPS 322, Wisconsin Uniform Dwelling Code (UDC), is mandatory statewide for one- and two-family dwellings and incorporates the 2009 IECC with state amendments. These amendments are more restrictive for underfloor insulation for heated slabs. Local governments cannot modify the UDC and are required to enforce the UDC. 

Last Updated: August 2017

Commercial Code List All

In May 2018, Wisconsin updated its commercial building energy codes to reference the 2015 IECC/ASHRAE 90.1-2013, albeit substantial weakening amendments.

Last Updated: October 2018

Compliance List All
  • Gap Analysis/Strategic Compliance Plan: NA
  • Baseline & Updated Compliance Studies: WI received funding from the U.S. DOE to implement a pilot study of compliance in commercial buildings. The 2011 study found that new commercial buildings were typically over 90% in compliance with the current commercial building code (at that time the 2006 IECC with WI amendments as addressed under SPS 363).
  • Utility Involvement: NA
  • Stakeholder Advisory Group: NA
  • Training/Outreach:  DSPS provides annual updates to code officials throughout the state as well as a UW-Extension session to architects, engineers and designers.  Eleven sessions covering residential and commercial construction. All licensed Uniform Dwelling Code (UDC) and WI Commercial Building Inspectors are required to obtain continuing education credits in order to renew their license. Each late winter/early spring, the four inspector associations put on trainings, but it is not mandatory. The Department of Safety & Professional Services offers various training courses throughout the year, which are also not mandatory. Some courses are available online, while others are addressed by organizations such as WI Focus on Energy, Energy Center of WI, WI Builders Association and others.

Last Updated: July 2017

Score: 1.5 out of 4
CHP Summary List All

The state has interconnection standards that apply to CHP and CHP is an eligible resource in the state's renewable portfolio standard. No new CHP systems were installed in 2017.

Interconnection StandardsList All

Policy: Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter PSC119

Description: Established in 2004, Wisconsin’s interconnection standards allow for distributed generation, including CHP, up to 15MW in size. To allow for ease of application, interconnection service is divided into four tiers, based upon system size, with strictness of requirements increasing as system size increases.

Last Updated: July 2018

Encouraging CHP as a ResourceList All

CHP in energy efficiency standards:  Wisconsin established an energy efficiency resource standard in 2006. This standard requires that energy efficiency goals be met, and looks to the Wisconsin Focus on Energy Program to achieve these goals. CHP is not specifically identified as an eligible resource within the standard, but Focus on Energy programs support the deployment of CHP in certain sectors of the economy.

Last Updated: August 2017

Deployment IncentivesList All

Net metering: The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) issued an order on January 26, 1982, requiring all regulated utilities to file tariffs allowing net metering to customers that generate electricity with systems up to 20 kilowatts (kW) in capacity. The order applies to investor-owned utilities and municipal utilities, but not to electric cooperatives. All distributed-generation (DG) systems, including combined heat and power (CHP), are eligible. There is no limit on total enrollment. The PSC has not adopted administrative rules for net metering. Utilities' net-metering tariffs contain some variations. Customer net excess generation (NEG) is generally credited at the utility's retail rate for renewables, and at the utility's avoided-cost rate for non-renewables.

Last Updated: August 2017

Additional Supportive PoliciesList All

Some additional supportive policies exist to encourage CHP in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin State Energy Office recieved funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to conduct the "Turning Waste into Cash in Wisconsin" project. The goal of the project was to identify and reduce barriers to project deployment and increase awareness of CHP in the state. Activites included a series of statekholder meetings and a summary white paper, which sets the stage for a Wisconsin Action Plan to promote the use of CHP in the state.

Also, CHP systems that displace electricity use and are fueled by renewable resources are eligible for the state’s Renewable Energy Standard, which set a statewide target of 10% of electricity from renewable resources by 2015.

Last Updated: August 2017

Score: 7 out of 20
Utilities Summary List All

Wisconsin's energy efficiency programs were initiated in the mid-1980s when integrated resource planning—termed the "Advance Plan Process"—was enacted by PSCW. This process is no longer in place and has been replaced by biennial "strategic energy assessments."

Under the 2005 Wisconsin Act 141, oversight of the statewide energy efficiency and renewable resources program called Focus on Energy transferred to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. Act 141 requires investor-owned electric and natural-gas utilities to spend 1.2% of their annual gross operating revenues on energy efficiency and renewable resource programs. Act 141 also requires municipal and retail electric cooperative utilities to collect an average of $8 per meter to fund energy efficiency programs. Municipal and retail electric cooperative utilities can collect the dollars and participate in the Focus on Energy program or can elect to operate their own Commitment to Community programs. The investor-owned utilities formed the non-profit Statewide Energy Efficiency and Renewables Administration (SEERA) to fulfill their obligations under Act 141. SEERA is required to create and fund Focus on Energy and to contract, on the basis of competitive bids, with one or more persons to administer the programs.

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Customer Energy Efficiency Programs List All

Wisconsin has a statewide energy efficiency and renewable resources program called Focus on Energy, which is funded through a non-bypassable charge on customer bills. There has been no market restructuring or deregulation, so vertically integrated, investor-owned utilities are still regulated providers. In addition to Focus on Energy, utilities provide voluntary energy efficiency programs. Act 141 allows investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to operate voluntary programs with funding in addition to the 1.2% or gross operating revenues they contribute to Focus on Energy. These voluntary programs need to be approved by the Public Service Commission, and currently, three IOUs operate some level of voluntary programs.

Under 2005 Wisconsin Act 141, oversight of Focus on Energy was transferred to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. Act 141 also requires municipal and retail electric cooperative utilities to collect an average of $8 per meter to fund energy efficiency programs. Municipal and retail electric cooperative utilities can collect the dollars and participate in the Focus on Energy program or can elect to operate their own Commitment to Community programs.

Program cost recovery is handled via individual rate cases. A conservation escrow account is used for voluntary energy efficiency and programs. Program costs are recovered through rates, the money goes into an escrow account, and then the costs are adjusted, or "trued up," in the next rate case. If utilities spend more than the approved budget, they generally receive cost recovery through the true up. If actual spending is less than the escrow amount, the PSCW "trues it up" through a reduction in revenue requirement for the next rate period.

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin oversees the statewide programs. The investor-owned utilities formed the non-profit Statewide Energy Efficiency and Renewables Administration (SEERA) to fulfill their obligations under Act 141. SEERA is required to fund Focus on Energy and to contract on the basis of competitive bids, with one or more persons to administer the programs. Focus on Energy has energy efficiency programs in two areas: (1) residential energy efficiency and renewable energy, and (2) non-residential energy efficiency and renewable energy (including the business, governmental, institutional, industrial, and agricultural sectors).

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Last Updated: June 2018

Energy Efficiency as a Resource List All

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin carries out a "Strategic Energy Assessment" every two years. These assessments assess past and future electric energy needs and associated resources available to meet these needs. This process is for planning only; it yields no regulatory orders or decisions that require actions by affected utilities, such as establishing specific resource goals or required investment levels in energy efficiency.

The second Quadrennial Planning Process concluded in September 2014 with a new order for savings goals. There will be a new order forthcoming from the Commission in June 2018 with a new order for 2019-2022 savings goals.

Last Updated: June 2018

Energy Efficiency Resource Standards List All

Summary: Electric: 0.77% of sales in 2015-2018. Natural Gas: 0.6% of sales in 2015-2018.

2005 Wisconsin Act 141 directs the Public Service Commission to establish energy efficiency and renewable goals and measureable targets at least every four years. The PSCW issued its final order of the Quadrennial Planning Process on November 10, 2010, which adopted electricity and natural gas savings goals for Focus on Energy. The electricity goals, as a percent of peak load and electric sales, amounted to 0.75% in 2011, ramping up to 1.5% in 2014. The PSC also approved natural gas goals of 0.5% in 2011, ramping up to 1% in 2013.

Shortly after the EERS was approved by the Joint Finance Committee of the state legislature, the state limited funding to Focus on Energy to 1.2% of revenues, which resulted in a major reduction in energy efficiency goals. The goals are now approximately 0.75% of sales in 2011, 2012, and 2013 for electricity and 0.5% of sales for natural gas over the same time frame.

In December 2014, the Statewide Energy Efficiency and Renewables Administration finalized the Focus on Energy contract for the years 2015-2018. The contract included a requirement that Focus on Energy programs achieve cumulative net first-year electricity savings of 2,137,142,988 kWh and natural gas savings of 76,911,727 over the four-year period. 2015-18 electric goals were slightly adjusted to reflect additional funding of rural programs. The net first-year kWh goal was later increased to 2,261,492,068 kWh, while the gas goal remains the same.

The Commission in May 2018 set four-year savings goals for the 2019-2022 period, which were guided by the findings of Focus' 2017 potential study regarding total achievable potential available at Focus' $100 million annual funding level. All goals are now set in lifecycle terms, rather than the annual terms the Commission previously used. The order has not been formally issued yet, but total Commission net goals are 224,666,366 MMbtu with minimum fuel-level goals of 22,831,730,001 kWh, 1,242,978,665 therms, and 349,213 kW. The program administrator will also have gross lifecycle savings goals of 299,555,154 MMBtu, 30,442,306,668 kWh, 1,657,304,887 therms, and 465,617 kW.

Last Updated: June 2018

Utility Business Model List All

Wisconsin Electric Power Company submitted a proposed Gas Cost Recovery Mechanism. Approval was granted June 2011 (Docket No. 6630-GF-112).

Utilities can propose incentives as part of their rate cases, but there have been no such proposals from other utilities recently. Wisconsin did have performance incentives in place in the early to mid-90s, but dropped them as the state began investigating restructuring and deregulation.

The 2015-2018 contract between SEERA and CB&I has a performance bonus mechanism for customer satisfaction and energy savings goal achievement.

Last Updated: July 2018

Evaluation, Measurement, & Verification List All
  • Primary cost-effectiveness test(s) used: modified total resource cost test 

  • Secondary cost-effectiveness test(s) used: utility cost test, ratepayer impact measure test, societal cost test  

The evaluation of ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs in Wisconsin relies on both legislative mandates (Wisconsin Act 141) and regulatory orders (PSC Chapter 137). For the statewide Focus on Energy Program, Act 141 requires the Public Service Commission to contract with an independent evaluator for annual evaluations. If a utility offers a voluntary program, they are responsible for hiring an evaluator to conduct the evaluation.  The state maintains a Technical Reference Manual (TRM) to summarize the consensus calculations of the electric and natural gas energy savings achieved from installing energy efficiency measures that are supported by Focus on Energy programs. 

According to the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), Wisconsin specifies a modified TRC to be its primary test for decision making. Wisconsin’s modified TRC accounts for environmental benefits from reduced emissions.  A benefit-cost test is required for overall portfolio level screening. Starting in 2019, Focus on Energy will be conducting a Societal Test as well as continuing to conduct TRC, UCT, and RIM tests.  

Further information on cost-effectiveness screening practices for Wisconsin is available in the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), a resource of the National Efficiency Screening Project (NESP). Further information on health and environmental benefits is available in ACEEE’s Overview of State Approaches to Account for Health and Environmental Benefits of Energy Efficiency

Last Updated: January 2019

Guidelines for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs List All

Requirements for State and Utility Support of Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

The Reliability 2000 Law, passed in 1990, created a program for awarding grants to provide assistance to low-income households for weatherization and other energy conservation services, payment of energy bills, and the early identification and prevention of energy crises. The law specifies that 47% of total low-income funds must be dedicated to weatherization. The legislation required the Department of Administration to collect $24 million for low-income public benefits services the first year and to calculate a low-income need target in subsequent years. This low-income need target is calculated based on the estimated number of low-income families (households at or below 150% of the poverty level) multiplied by the estimated need per eligible household.

Funding for the low-income energy portion of the public benefits fund varies each year and comes from three sources:

(1) Electric utilities are required to charge customers a fee in the amount determined by statute (16.957) and administrative rules (Chapter Adm 43). The total amount collected must meet the low-income need target when added to the following:

(a) the estimated low-income assistance fees collected by municipal utilities and retail electric cooperatives, (b) all low-income energy assistance received from the federal government, (c) all low-income energy assistance received from “transferred” fees the state receives from public utilities, and (d) the total amount expended directly by utilities for low-income assistance.

The proposed fee, calculated to meet the low-income need target, is submitted to the secretary of DOA for approval. The estimated fee revenue is then divided between the low-income weatherization assistance program and the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance program. The results are shared with the Low-Income Energy Advisory Committee and the state’s 12 investor-owned utilities.

(2) A monthly low-income assistance fee collected on all customer bills: While the amount of the charge is to be determined by the Department of Administration each year, the statute provides that the charge is to be a fixed charge, with 70% of the total revenue being collected from the residential customer class and 30% being collected from non-residential customers (Wisc. Stat. §16.957(4)(b)(2) (2007)).

(3) Current year’s federal LIHEAP and weatherization allocations.

Cost-Effectiveness Rules for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

The rules for benefit-cost tests are stated in Commission Order Docket 5-FE-100, Ref #: 215245, final decision dated September 5, 2014, although no specific adjustments or exceptions to general cost-effectiveness rules are mentioned for low-income programs. Wisconsin uses a modified total resource cost (TRC) test that includes the value of emissions avoided through the program, including carbon dioxide, sulfur oxides, and nitrogen oxides. In addition, the commission also makes use of the utility cost test (UCT) and ratepayer impact measure (RIM).

Coordination of Ratepayer-Funded Low-Income Programs with WAP Services

The Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA), Division of Energy, Housing, and Community Resources (DEHCR) administers Home Energy Plus (HE+) through a network of county agencies, tribal governments, community-based organizations, and housing authorities. HE+ includes the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP), Home Energy Plus Furnace Program, and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). Wisconsin’s WAP is funded with a combination of state and federal funds, including US Department of Energy (DOE), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP or EAP), and state Public Benefits (PB) funding.HE+ and DOA work with Focus on Energy staff to coordinate delivery and support Focus' own services to low-income customers.  For example, the parties meet regularly to share information, and Focus sometimes takes leads on customers who are on a waiting list for HE+ services.

Wisconsin’s management of federal, state, and utility funding is unique in that Wisc. Stat. §16.957 directs agencies to aggregate all funding streams into a single public benefit fund to coordinate distribution of assistance.

Last updated: July 2018

Self Direct and Opt-Out Programs List All

While self-direct is available, no customer has taken this option—all participate in Focus on Energy instead. For self-direct, the customer must meet statutory definition of a large energy customer: has a monthly demand of at least 1 MW or 10,000 decatherms and a monthly utility bill of at least $60,000. Statute says that a customer may deduct the amount of program funding from the amount they must contribute to Focus through their utility, if/when they receive Commission approval for that program. By administrative code, any proposals for a customer to run such a program require an M&V plan, must pass a cost-effectiveness screening, and set and measure performance goals.

More information on large customer self-direct programs can be found in the ACEEE report, Follow the Leaders: Improving Large Customer Self-Direct Programs.

 Last Updated: July 2018

Data AccessList All

Guidelines for Third party access

PSC docket 9501-GF-101 provides limited access by the Focus on Energy Administrator to customer energy use data. Each utility will give Focus the name, address, telephone number, contact person, rate class, and if available, the SIC code for each commercial or industrial customer whose energy use falls within parameters that Focus establishes. Energy use is aggregated, and each utility is only required to provide the information once per year.

Requirements for Provision of Energy Data

Wisconsin does not have any requirements in place for the provision of energy use data. 

Energy Use Data Availability 

There is no online standardized system through which access to individual or aggregated energy use data may be requested. 

Last Updated: July 2018

Score: 0.5 out of 10
Transportation Summary List All

The state devotes a significant amount of funding to transit iniatives, and has complete streets legislation in place.

Tailpipe Emission Standards List All

No policy in place or proposed.

Last Updated: July 2017

Transportation System Efficiency List All

Transportation and Land Use Integration: No policy in place or proposed.

VMT Targets: No policy in place or proposed.

Complete Streets: Wisconsin enacted clean streets legislation in 2009, mandating that all new highway construction include walkways and bikeways. Funding for such additions can be taken from appropriated state and federal transportation dollars. 

FAST Freight Plans and Goals: No finalized freight plan or goals in place. 

Last Updated: July 2017

Transit Funding List All

No policy in place or proposed.

Last Updated: July 2017

Incentives for High-Efficiency Vehicles List All

No policy in place or proposed.

Last Updated: July 2017

Equitable Access to TransportationList All
Wisconsin does not have any state programs in place to incentivize the creation of low-income housing near transit facilities, nor does it consider the proximity of transit facilities when distributing federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to qualifying property owners. Last Updated: July 2017
Appliance Standards
Score: 0 out of 3
Appliance Standards Summary List All

Wisconsin has not set appliance standards beyond those required by the federal government.

Last Reviewed: June 2019