Wisconsin solar rebates and incentives: 2024 guide

The average Wisconsin solar shopper will save $4,598 on solar panels with rebates and incentives.

Updated May 7, 2024

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    Written by: Emily Walker

    Solar panel systems in Wisconsin are expensive, but incentives from the state and federal governments can help you reduce the upfront cost. Between the federal tax credit and other state-specific incentives, you can save thousands on solar panels, making them well worth the investment. Here's how you can lower the cost of solar if you live in Wisconsin.

    See how much solar costs in Wisconsin

    As a Wisconsin homeowner, you have access to some great incentives that can substantially improve your return on investing in solar panels. The two below are some of the most impactful ways to bring down your solar costs.

    Incentive
    Average savings in Wisconsin
    Description

    Residential Clean Energy Tax Credit, formerly the federal investment tax credit (ITC)

    $4,598

    Lowers your solar panel system's cost by 30%

    Focus on Energy rebate

    $500

    Provides a cash rebate worth $500 toward your solar panel system.

    Residential Clean Energy Credit

    The Residential Clean Energy Credit, formerly known as the federal investment tax credit (ITC), can reduce your solar panel system's cost by 30%. Your entire system qualifies for this incentive, including equipment, labor, permitting, and sales tax.

    The average cost for a 5 kW solar panel system is around $15,325 in Wisconsin. Once you factor in the 30% credit, the cost comes down to $10,728.

    When you file your federal income taxes, you can claim this incentive as a credit towards your federal tax bill. Just keep in mind that to qualify for the ITC, you need to purchase your system either with cash or a solar loan–if you lease your system, you won't be eligible. 

    You also need a high enough tax bill, though you can roll over any remaining credit year-to-year until the end of 2034 when the ITC expires. The only time you might be eligible for a direct payment for the ITC is if you're a tax-exempt entity, like a nonprofit organization.

    Focus on Energy rebate

    As the owner of a single-family home in Wisconsin, you can earn a rebate worth $500 for installing a solar panel system as long as your utility company participates in the program. If you live in a rural area, you can qualify for an additional $500 bonus. There's a limited amount of funding available each year, so it's important to confirm the rebate is still available

    In addition to the great rebates and incentives above, Wisconsin also offers tax exemptions for solar panel systems. The solar sales tax exemption ensures that you won't have to pay a sales tax on your system, while the solar property tax exemption means you don't need to pay a higher property tax for adding solar panels to your house. 

    Tax exemption
    Average savings in Wisconsin
    Description

    Wisconsin solar sales tax exemption

    5% of your system costs

    You don't need to pay any sales tax on new solar panel systems in Wisconsin, saving at least 5% of your system costs.

    Wisconsin solar property tax exemption

    1.76% of your system's value, annually on average

    If you use solar energy as a source of power, you won't need to pay a tax on the value your solar panels add to your property.

    If you connect your solar panel system to the grid, you can benefit from net metering, one of the best solar panel incentives available in Wisconsin. With net metering, you earn credits when you send excess electricity from your solar panels to the grid. When the sun isn't shining and you need to pull electricity from the grid, your utility will apply the credits to your bill. Net metering makes it so you will owe very little, or even nothing, on your electric bills with solar panels. 

    All investor-owned and municipal utilities in Wisconsin have to offer net metering to customers. However, the utilities differ quite a bit in their rules for carrying over credits month-to-month or year-to-year. 

    Xcel Energy

    Xcel Energy, formerly Northern States Power Company, provides the strongest net metering policy of the major Wisconsin utilities. Solar panel systems 100 kW or less are eligible. If your system exports more electricity to the grid than you import within a month, you'll receive credits at the retail rate (the same rate you pay for electricity), which will rollover to the next month. 

    If you have any remaining credits at the end of the calendar year (on January 1st), you'll receive a check for the value of them. The value will be lower than the retail rate, based on a weighted average across summer peak, winter peak, and off-peak wholesale electricity rates. January 1st isn't the best date to have credits expire because it means you might not be able to use all your summer credits in time–but, Xcel Energy's net metering policy is still the best you can get in Wisconsin. 

    Learn more about Xcel Energy net metering

    We Energies

    We Energies, formerly Wisconsin Electric Power Company, provides net metering for solar panel systems 300 kW or less. Unlike Xcel Energy, it doesn't allow you to roll over credits month-to-month at the retail rate. If you generate more electricity than you consume in one month, you receive bill credits at the avoided cost rate (what your utility pays for electricity, which is lower than the retail rate). In 2024, the avoided cost rate is $0.03739/kWh for flat rate customers. It's a bit more complicated if you're on a time-of-use plan, but you can find information here. If your accumulated bill credits ever exceed $100, you'll receive a check. 

    Learn more about We Energies net metering

    Wisconsin Power and Light

    Wisconsin Power and Light, a subsidiary of Alliant Energy Corporation, provides net metering for solar panel systems 20 kW or less. It's net metering policy is similar to We Energies. If you generate more electricity than you consume in a month, you get credits toward future bills at the avoided cost rate. You'll also get a check if your bill credits are above $100 in value. 

    Learn more about Wisconsin Power and Light net metering

    Wisconsin Public Service 

    Wisconsin Public Service's net metering policy is like Wisconsin Power and Light's policy. It's available for systems 20 kW or less and provides credits at the avoided cost rate if you export more electricity than you import in a given month. They'll send you a check if your bill credit value ever exceeds $100.

    Learn more about Wisconsin Public Service net metering

    Madison Gas and Electric 

    Madison Gas and Electric's net metering policy is the most complicated. For the first year, your credits will roll over each month at the retail electricity rate. Beginning in your 13th month of net metering, if you've exported more energy than you've imported over the last 12 months, you're deemed a Net Seller. As a Net Seller, if you earn excess credits that month, they're rolled over at the Parallel Generation Buyback Rate, which is lower than the retail rate. 

    Each month, your status resets. So, for example, if in the 14th month, you've imported more energy than you've exported over the last 12 months, you're not a Net Seller. This means that if you have any excess credits during that month, they're rolled over at the retail rate. Overall, this policy means that if you're a Madison Gas and Electric customer, you shouldn't oversize your solar panel system unless you install a battery.

    Learn more about Madison Gas and Electric's net metering policy

    Wisconsin doesn't offer any state-specific battery incentives, but all batteries above 3 kWh are eligible for the 30% federal tax credit. Batteries are great for increasing your energy independence and providing protection from blackouts in Wisconsin.

    Since Wisconsin's net metering policies aren't the strongest, batteries can also help you get the most out of your solar panels. You can use them to store excess solar energy for us later on, instead of sending it to the grid. This can help you avoid receiving bill credits below the retail rate.

    Learn more about battery incentives and rebates See the complete list of solar companies in Wisconsin

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