Energy Incentive Programs, Wisconsin

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Updated June 2015

Wisconsin utilities collectively budgeted almost $100 million for energy efficiency and load management programs in 2014.

What public-purpose-funded energy efficiency programs are available in my state?

The Reliability 2000 legislation established a public benefits funding mechanism for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and low-income assistance in the state. Starting in 2007 (following 2005's Act 141), utilities began collecting funds for the programs directly, and then individually contracting with the administrators of the statewide Focus On Energy initiative.

The Focus on Energy program provides various types of financial incentives to eligible customers of participating utilities for qualified electricity and natural gas efficiency measures. These measures include energy-efficient lighting, HVAC equipment, food service equipment, and specialty equipment such as pre-rinse spray valves and anti-sweat door heaters for refrigeration units. The incentives also cover custom projects such as compressed air system upgrades or process improvements. There are separate program categories for large energy users (> 1,000 kW peak or 100,000 therms/mo.), mid-sized (between 100 and 1,000 kW peak), and small business (< 100 kW average peak) customers. In addition, retro-commissioning incentives are offered, as is a design assistance program for new construction and major renovation projects.

What utility energy efficiency programs are available to me?

Wisconsin's ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs are administered by the Focus on Energy initiative (see above) for customers of the state's investor-owned utilities and some other municipal utilities and cooperatives.

Several small municipals and cooperatives also run their own efficiency programs, which are profiled by the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

What load management/demand response options are available to me?

We Energies (WE) offers two load management programs that pay participants for voluntarily reducing their energy use during price spikes in the wholesale electricity market:

  • The Experimental Dollars for Power Rider pays customers based on pre-established bid prices for their load reduction: $0.40, $0.80, or $1.25 per kWh. When market prices dictate, WE will make requests for individual participants to curtail. Response to any particular request is voluntary; no penalties are assessed if a participant decides not to provide the full load reduction. To participate, customers must be able to curtail a minimum of 50 kW.

  • The Experimental Power Market Incentives Power program allows customers to stipulate, on a day-to-day basis, how much they are willing to curtail for a posted price. When market prices dictate, WE will post an incentive for load curtailments. Interested participants may respond with an offer to provide a certain level of load reduction for that price. If their offer is accepted, they are committed to provide that load reduction for the time period specified. To participate, customers must be able to curtail at least 500 kW.

Xcel Energy offers several programs for peak demand reductions:

  • The Electric Rate Savings program offers financial incentives for peak demand reduction projects at commercial and industrial facilities that can reduce load by 50 kW or more. Participating customers receive a per-kW discount on controllable demand every month, but in exchange must commit to reducing their load to a pre-determined level for up to 150 hours per year.

  • The Interruptible Gas Rates program provides a reduced rate throughout the year for customers who agree to reduce use during peak gas demand. One-hour notice is provided and the installation of a telemetering device is required.

  • The Saver's Switch for Business offers program participants an October bill discount of $3 per kW of enrolled air conditioning in exchange for customers allowing the utility to cycle the air conditioning on and off for 15 to 20 minute intervals during periods of peak electric demand in the summer.

Wisconsin Public Service Corp. (WPSC) offers several demand response programs:

  • CG-20 Response Rewards is a "critical peak pricing" (CPP) option in which participating customers already on the company's time-of-use rate (CG-20) receive notifications (at least one hour in advance) of CPP events and then can reduce their loads during the 2-8 hour "critical peak" period, when prices are six times higher than the normal peak prices. In exchange, participants receive 40% lower on-peak and 20% lower off-peak prices at all other times of the year. WPSC also offers a small business version of the program, available to customers on the CG-1, CG-2, and CG-5 rates.

  • The Contracted Direct Load Control program allows WPSC to place control switches on equipment ranging from lights to motors and pumps, and shut them off periodically during high demand periods in exchange for bill credits. Shut-off options range from just summer cycling to year-round load-shedding capability (up to 8 hours per day and 100 per year). Remuneration depends on the particular option, but ranges between $4.35/kW to $6.50/kW per month of participation.

  • WPSC also offers an interruptible rider (CP-12). Participants contract for a 200 kW or greater load reduction (with curtailability up to 600 hours/yr.) subject to WPSC's determination of either economic or emergency conditions on the grid. In exchange, the customer receives reduced rates for its monthly peak demand.

Alliant Energy/Wisconsin Power & Light's Interruptible Programs offer a variety of both voluntary economic and mandatory emergency demand response options.

Madison Gas & Electric offers several interruptible options and a direct load control program.

What distributed energy resource options are available to me?

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) provides information on programs that offer incentives for renewable distributed generation. The following programs may be of interest to federal customers:

  • WE offers generous buy-back terms for up to 15 years for electricity from solar and biogas sources through its Customer-Owned Generation program.

  • Focus on Energy sponsors two programs for renewable energy. The Renewable Energy Competitive Incentive Program provides cash incentives to biomass, biogas, geothermal, solar PV, solar thermal, and wind projects on a competitive RFP basis. Maximum incentive amount is $500,000 or 50% of the project cost. The Renewable Rewards program provides an incentive of $650-$2400 (depending on the technology) for solar electric and geothermal projects. Reservations required.

  • Several small municipals and cooperatives also have programs available.

Are there energy efficiency programs sponsored by the state government?

Please see the section above on public-purpose-funded energy efficiency programs.

What additional opportunities are available to me?

Federal customers whose utilities have area-wide supply contracts through GSA (such as Alliant/WP&L), may be able to take advantage of 3rd-party financed energy efficiency projects called utility energy services contracts (UESCs). Information is available in GSA's Energy Division Library. Federal facilities should contact their account executive to determine the level of each utility's participation.