Skip to content

A Digital Technology Expert‘s Guide to Maximizing Solar Savings in Wisconsin

As a digital technology expert and renewable energy enthusiast, I‘ve witnessed firsthand the incredible advancements that have transformed the solar industry over the past decade. From more efficient photovoltaic cells to smarter inverters, monitoring systems, and design software, digital technologies have made it easier and more affordable than ever for homeowners to tap into the power of the sun. And there‘s no better place to see these innovations in action than in Wisconsin, where a combination of forward-thinking policies, plummeting equipment costs, and surging demand have created one of the hottest solar markets in the country.

In the past three years alone, Wisconsin‘s installed solar capacity has skyrocketed from just 103 megawatts to over 1 gigawatt—a nearly tenfold increase. And this is just the beginning. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Wisconsin has the technical potential to generate a whopping 103% of its electricity from rooftop solar alone. That‘s right: if every suitable rooftop in the Badger State had solar panels, we could produce more than enough clean, renewable energy to power every home and business in the state, with plenty left over.

But you don‘t have to wait for this solar-powered future to arrive to start reaping the benefits of going solar in Wisconsin. Thanks to a range of lucrative incentives, rebates, and tax credits, most Wisconsin homeowners can save tens of thousands of dollars on electricity costs over the lifetime of a solar array. And with prices for solar equipment continuing to fall, the economics of solar just keep getting better.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore all the ways you can maximize your solar savings in Wisconsin, from leveraging cutting-edge digital tools to navigating the state‘s ever-evolving renewable energy landscape. As a digital technology expert, I‘ll also highlight how advances in solar software, hardware, and data analytics are making it easier than ever to optimize your system‘s performance, monitor your energy production, and slash your carbon footprint. By the end, you‘ll have all the knowledge you need to make a smart, informed decision about whether solar is right for you. Let‘s dive in!

Wisconsin‘s Solar Boom: A Decade of Declining Costs and Skyrocketing Growth

To understand why solar is such a smart investment in Wisconsin, it‘s helpful to zoom out and look at the bigger picture. Over the past decade, the cost of solar has plummeted both nationally and in the Badger State, thanks to a combination of technological advances, economies of scale, and supportive policies.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the average price of a residential solar panel installation in the U.S. has fallen by more than 70% since 2010, from around $7.50 per watt to just $2.60 per watt in 2022. In Wisconsin, the cost of solar is right in line with the national average, making it more affordable than ever for homeowners to make the switch.

But falling prices are just part of the story. Wisconsin‘s solar market has also benefited from a range of policies and incentives designed to spur the adoption of renewable energy. In 2019, Governor Tony Evers issued an executive order establishing a goal of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050—a target that will require a massive expansion of solar and other clean energy technologies in the coming decades.

To help meet this goal, Wisconsin offers some of the most generous solar incentives in the nation, including:

  • A 30% federal tax credit for solar installations through 2032
  • A $500 rebate from the state‘s Focus on Energy program for installing solar panels
  • Full retail rate net metering, which allows solar owners to earn credits for excess energy they send to the grid
  • A 100% property tax exemption for the value added by solar panels
  • A 100% sales tax exemption for all solar equipment

Thanks to these incentives, Wisconsin‘s solar market has exploded in recent years. According to data from the Solar Energy Industries Association, Wisconsin ranked 28th in the nation for installed solar capacity in 2022, with 1,027 megawatts of solar installed—enough to power more than 100,000 homes. That‘s a more than tenfold increase from just three years earlier, when Wisconsin had only 103 megawatts of solar installed.

And the growth shows no signs of slowing down. In 2023, Wisconsin is expected to add another 846 megawatts of solar capacity, ranking it 19th in the nation for projected growth. Over the next five years, the state‘s solar market is projected to more than triple in size, reaching 3,343 megawatts by 2027.

Year Cumulative Solar Capacity (MW) Annual New Solar Capacity (MW)
2022 1,027 386
2023 1,873 846
2024 2,373 500
2025 2,783 410
2026 3,103 320
2027 3,343 240

Source: Solar Energy Industries Association

Of course, this rapid growth in solar adoption is about more than just saving money on electricity bills. It‘s also a critical tool in the fight against climate change, air pollution, and other environmental threats. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Wisconsin still gets nearly 80% of its electricity from fossil fuels, with coal and natural gas accounting for the lion‘s share of generation.

By contrast, solar energy is a clean, renewable resource that produces no greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants. In fact, the 1,027 megawatts of solar currently installed in Wisconsin is estimated to offset more than 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year—equivalent to taking 220,000 cars off the road.

But the benefits of solar extend beyond the environment. Wisconsin‘s solar industry is also a major driver of economic development, creating well-paying jobs and attracting millions of dollars in investment to the state. According to the 2021 Clean Jobs Midwest report, Wisconsin was home to nearly 4,000 solar jobs in 2020, with the industry projected to grow by another 7% in 2021 despite the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unlocking Solar Savings with Advanced Digital Technologies

Of course, maximizing your solar savings in Wisconsin isn‘t just about taking advantage of incentives and riding the wave of market growth. It‘s also about leveraging the latest digital technologies to optimize your system‘s performance, monitor your energy production, and make data-driven decisions about your energy usage.

One key area where digital technology is transforming the solar industry is in system design and sizing. In the past, designing a solar array was a complex, time-consuming process that required specialized knowledge and expensive software. Today, however, there are a range of user-friendly, web-based tools that allow homeowners to quickly and easily assess their solar potential, create custom system designs, and get detailed projections of their energy production and savings.

For example, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory‘s PVWatts Calculator is a free, web-based tool that allows users to estimate the energy production and cost of solar PV systems anywhere in the world. By entering basic information about their location, system size, and mounting type, users can get instant estimates of their system‘s monthly and annual energy production, as well as its potential cost savings over time.

Other digital tools, like Google‘s Project Sunroof, use high-resolution satellite imagery and machine learning algorithms to analyze the solar potential of individual rooftops. By entering their address, homeowners can see a detailed map of their roof‘s solar potential, as well as estimates of their system size, energy production, and cost savings based on local weather patterns, electricity rates, and incentives.

Once a solar array is installed, digital technologies can also help optimize its performance and monitor its energy production in real-time. Many modern solar inverters, for example, come equipped with advanced monitoring and communication capabilities that allow homeowners to track their system‘s output, identify any performance issues, and even control their energy usage from their smartphone or tablet.

Some popular solar monitoring systems include:

  • SolarEdge monitoring: Provides real-time and historical data on energy production, consumption, and system performance, as well as alerts for any issues or maintenance needs.
  • Enphase Enlighten: Offers a user-friendly web and mobile interface for monitoring energy production, consumption, and battery status, as well as remote troubleshooting and firmware updates.
  • Tigo Energy Intelligence: Uses advanced algorithms and machine learning to optimize energy production, reduce shading losses, and extend the lifespan of solar panels and inverters.

By leveraging these and other digital technologies, Wisconsin homeowners can ensure they are getting the most out of their solar investment, both in terms of energy production and cost savings.

The Bottom Line: Solar is a Smart Investment for Wisconsin Homeowners

As we‘ve seen, there are numerous reasons why solar is a smart investment for homeowners in Wisconsin. With some of the most generous incentives in the nation, including a 30% federal tax credit, $500 state rebate, and full retail net metering, most Wisconsinites can slash their upfront solar costs and enjoy substantial savings on their electricity bills for decades to come.

And the benefits don‘t stop there. By going solar, you can also:

  • Hedge against future electricity rate hikes: With utility rates in Wisconsin projected to rise by 2-3% per year, generating your own renewable energy can provide a valuable buffer against higher energy costs.
  • Increase your home‘s value: According to a 2019 study by Zillow, homes with solar panels sell for an average of 4.1% more than comparable homes without solar. In Wisconsin, that translates to an extra $9,000 in resale value for a median-priced home.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint: By generating clean, renewable energy right on your rooftop, you can significantly reduce your household‘s greenhouse gas emissions and help combat climate change.
  • Support local jobs and economic development: Wisconsin‘s solar industry is a major driver of job creation and economic growth, with thousands of workers employed in manufacturing, installation, sales, and other solar-related fields.

So how much can you actually expect to save by going solar in Wisconsin? While every home is different, most Wisconsinites can expect to see significant savings over the lifetime of their solar array. Here are some estimates of the potential savings for a typical 6 kW residential solar system in a few of Wisconsin‘s largest cities:

City Estimated 25-Year Savings Estimated Payback Period
Milwaukee $27,000 8 years
Madison $29,000 7 years
Green Bay $25,000 9 years
Kenosha $26,000 8 years
Racine $27,000 8 years

Estimates based on a 6 kW solar system, 2.6% annual utility rate increase, and 0.5% annual panel degradation rate. Actual savings may vary based on system size, energy usage, local incentives, and other factors.

As these estimates show, the potential savings from going solar in Wisconsin are significant, with most homeowners able to recoup their initial investment in 7-9 years and enjoy free, clean electricity for the remainder of their system‘s 25+ year lifespan. And with solar costs continuing to fall and digital technologies making it easier than ever to optimize system performance, the economics of solar are only getting better.

Of course, going solar is a big decision, and it‘s important to do your research and carefully consider your options before making the leap. Here are a few key steps to take as you explore whether solar is right for you:

  1. Assess your solar potential: Use free online tools like PVWatts or Project Sunroof to get a sense of your home‘s solar potential and estimated energy production.
  2. Get multiple quotes: Reach out to several reputable solar installers in your area to get detailed proposals and cost estimates for your project.
  3. Consider your financing options: While paying for solar in cash will provide the greatest long-term savings, there are a range of financing options available, including loans, leases, and power purchase agreements.
  4. Understand your incentives: Make sure you understand all of the incentives and rebates available to you, including the federal tax credit, state rebates, and net metering policies.
  5. Monitor your system‘s performance: Once your solar array is installed, use digital monitoring tools to track your energy production and identify any issues or maintenance needs.

By following these steps and leveraging the latest digital technologies, you can maximize your solar savings and enjoy the many benefits of clean, renewable energy for years to come.

Additional Resources

Interested in learning more about going solar in Wisconsin? Here are a few additional resources to check out: