How to Save Money on Solar Panels in Wisconsin

Solar panels on a background of blue sky with a flagpole and the flag State of Wisconsin

How to Save Money on Solar Panels in Wisconsin

Key Points

  • Solar panels in Wisconsin have increased by nearly 1GW in the last three years due to the state’s plans to update its renewable standards.
  • Homeowners in Wisconsin can save thousands on utilities by installing solar panels and taking advantage of financial incentives such as net metering and tax exemptions.
  • The federal solar tax credit offers 30% back on solar purchases, potentially saving homeowners over $4,500 on a 6kW system.
  • Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program provides a $500 rebate for homeowners installing solar panels and requires utility companies to purchase excess solar energy through net metering.

In the last three years, solar panels in Wisconsin increased by nearly 1GW. A major reason for this push stems from the state preparing to update its renewable standards. In the next five years, homeowners in the Badger State may have more reason to invest in a solar array than ever before. 

However, you don’t have to wait to take advantage of great financial incentives. Those who install solar can save thousands on their utilities. From net metering to tax exemptions, there are plenty of ways to cut the cost of an installation and even earn money back. Let’s dive in.

How to Save Money on Solar Panels in Wisconsin: Overview

With decent equipment rates, low power requirements, and a surprisingly good amount of sunlight, homeowners have plenty of reasons to consider solar panels in Wisconsin. Despite the already affordable electricity price, some could save as much as $15,000 or more with a 6kW system.

These factors provide good indicators for effectiveness, but most residents rely on state and federal incentives to help afford the initial purchase. Fortunately, officials in the Badger State recognize the potential for solar energy and have implemented regulations to cover installations and increase overall returns. Let’s take a look at these opportunities below.

Solar Panels in Wisconsin: Federal Incentive

The best way to save money on solar panels in Wisconsin is with the federal solar tax credit. This program offers 30% back on all solar purchases as an income tax return. Those who install a 6kW system could cut the cost by over $4,500.

To take full advantage of the federal credit, it’s important to install your solar panel system by 2032. You’ll also need to meet the prerequisites, which include:

  • You must own your system outright, either through a purchase or a loan
  • You must live at the home where the system is installed
  • All equipment must be new

Wisconsin’s State Credits and Rebates

As far as state-level support goes, you’ll find the most benefit through financial incentives such as tax credits or rebates. Fortunately, Wisconsin has one of the best programs in the country. Focus on Energy provides $500 to homeowners looking to install a solar panel system.

In addition to the equipment rebate, residents in the Badger State can utilize an excellent net metering mandate. This regulation requires utility companies to purchase excess solar energy. In Wisconsin, this comes in the form of a credit worth the retail rate for electricity. And when the credit reaches over $25, the utility company must pay the customer a check for the total amount. 

Family with little girl standing in front of their house with solar panels on the roof, having electric car.
Homeowners can save money on solar panels in Wisconsin with a $500 equipment rebate.

Solar Panels in Wisconsin: Government Regulations

While these programs seem progressive, they don’t stem from a strong set of renewable portfolio standards (RPS). We use a state’s RPS to determine whether it plans to invest in clean energy or not. Wisconsin has an outdated RPS, with a goal to reach 10% renewable production by 2015. So the state’s incentives are only treading water on their own.

However, this may change in the coming years. In April 2022, the governor enacted an executive order to pursue 100% carbon-free energy by 2050. It may take state officials a few years to write the order into law, but it’s a major step in the right direction for the Badger State.

Alongside these long-term changes, homeowners can take advantage of multiple tax exemptions to save money over the lifespan of their solar panels. Wisconsin requires no property tax for the increased value of your home, lowering your payments by thousands. And with a sales tax exemption, it’s even easier to make that initial investment.

Should Wisconsinites Lease Solar?

In some states, homeowners can opt into solar leasing when buying a system is out of the question. While this direction voids the solar panels from any incentives (including the federal credit), it can help lower utility bills without committing to ownership.

Residents can lease solar panels in Wisconsin, but only on a case-by-case basis. And even if you were able to make it happen, the utility savings would hardly cover the lease payments. For the time being, it’s wise to look for alternatives or wait until the executive order is put into law.

Solar Panels in Wisconsin: Incentive Summary

Federal Tax Incentive30% credit
Wisconsin Tax Credits / RebatesNone / $500 equipment rebate
Net MeteringNet metering at retail rate; check payment for credits over $25
Renewable Portfolio Standard10% by 2015 (expired)
Property Tax Exemption100%
Sales Tax Exemption100%
Performance Payment ProgramNone

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you actually save money by going solar in Wisconsin?

With decent equipment prices and high electricity rates, solar panels in Wisconsin are worth considering. Even with average sunlight, some homeowners could save as much as $15,000 on utility bills over 25 years.

How long does it take for solar panels to pay for themselves in Wisconsin?

With an average annual power bill of about $1,255.08, homeowners in Wisconsin could pay off a 6kW system in around 12.3 years. While this is slightly longer than in most states, some residents could reduce the time with a smaller system.

How much do solar panels cost in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, homeowners can expect to spend about $2.60 per watt on solar energy. This equals around $15,600 for a 6kW system. Prices can fluctuate depending on a number of factors, including wattage.

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