In 1998 Wisconsin enacted Act 204, requiring regulated utilities in eastern Wisconsin to install to an aggregate total of 50 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. Legislation enacted in March 2006 increased renewable-energy requirements and established an overall statewide renewable-energy goal of 10% by December 31, 2015. The requirements are as follows:
- For the years 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, each electric provider (including investor-owned and municipal utilities, and electric cooperatives) may not decrease its renewable-energy percentage below 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 points above the electric provider's average renewable-energy percentage for 2001, 2002 and 2003.
- For the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, each electric provider may not decrease its renewable-energy percentage below the electric provider's renewable-energy percentage for 2010.
- For the year 2015, each electric provider must increase its renewable-energy percentage by at least six points above the electric provider's average renewable-energy percentage for 2001, 2002 and 2003.
- For each year after 2015, each electric provider may not decrease its renewable-energy percentage below the electric provider's renewable-energy percentage for 2015.
Electric providers, wholesale suppliers and customers of electric providers may petition the PSC for an extension of a compliance deadline. By June 1, 2016, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (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.
Qualifying electricity generating resources include tidal and wave action, fuel cells using renewable fuels, solar thermal electric and photovoltaics (PV), wind power, geothermal, hydropower, and biomass (including landfill gas). In May 2010, the RPS was amended to allow certain resources that produce a measurable and verifiable displacement of conventional electricity resources to also qualify as eligible resources (i.e., non-electric resources which displace electricity). Furthermore, the new law permits electricity generated (or electricity displacement) by certain waste resource technologies to qualify for the standard. The PSC developed rules in Docket 1-AC-234 (effective April 2012) defining the additional eligible technologies, including: 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. The rules also established standards for measuring and verifying non-electric technologies.
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 (1) all hydropower purchased in a reporting year, (2) the average of the amounts of hydropower generated by facilities owned or operated by the utility for 2001, 2002 and 2003, 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 (3) 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. As a result of S.B. 81 enacted in July 2011, beginning December 31, 2015 (the effective date of S.B. 81), electricity from large hydropower facilities (60 MW or more) can be counted toward the RPS requirement if the facility was placed in service on or after December 31, 2010. Facilities in Manitoba, Canada are eligible if certain requirements are met.
Renewable Energy Certificates and Renewable Resource Credits
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 MWh of total renewable energy that is physically metered with the net generation measured at a certified renewable facility's bus bar and that is 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.
RRCs may be used in subsequent years; 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, however, only generation capacity (including incremental additions at existing installations) added after January 1, 2004 is eligible to generate tradable RRCs. An RRC created before January 1, 2004 could be used for compliance until December 31, 2011, after which it expired. An RRC generated after January 1, 2004 may be used for compliance up to 4 years after the year in which it was created.
The Wisconsin PSC was one of principal developers of the Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System (M-RETS) to be used for this purpose. Public reports detailing utility progress under the RRC program are available [https://portal2.m-rets.com/myModule/rpt/myrpt.asp?r=301 here] on the M-RETS web site. 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 [http://psc.wi.gov/apps35/ERF_view/viewdoc.aspx?docid=166782 most recent report] was released in June 2012. In November 2012, the PSC [http://psc.wi.gov/apps35/ERF_view/viewdoc.aspx?docid=175785 accepted] electric provider compliance reports, finding all electric providers and aggregators to be in compliance with the 2011 requirements.