Select Economic and Energy Data Value State Rank
Real Gross Domestic Product, per capita $35,239 24th lowest
Unemployment 8.7% 22nd lowest
Gasoline Price, per gallon $2.84 19th highest
Electricity Price, per kWh 9.35¢ 20th highest

Wisconsin has below average electricity prices (5 percent below the national average). Over 60 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity is generated from coal. The state receives about 20 percent of its electricity from its two nuclear power plants, while natural gas provides about nine percent of the state’s electricity generation.

Wisconsin lacks fossil fuel resources. About 80 percent of the coal used in Wisconsin is imported from Wyoming. Natural gas is delivered to Wisconsin through pipelines, primarily from Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas with the remaining gas coming from Canadian sources. The Unit 1 reactor at the Point Beach nuclear plant is one of the oldest operating nuclear reactors in the United States. Renewable energy resources, primarily hydroelectric power, wind energy, and wood, contribute 6 percent to the state’s electricity supply. Wisconsin also produces ethanol in the southern and central portions of the state.

Regulatory Impediments to Affordable Energy

Although affordable energy is a vital component of a healthy economy, regulations frequently increase energy costs. Regulations imposed in the name of reducing carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions are especially costly. Carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of the combustion of all carbon-containing fuels, such as natural gas, petroleum, coal, wood, and other organic materials. Today, there is no cost-effective way to capture the carbon dioxide output of the combustion of these fuels, so any regulations that limit carbon dioxide emissions will either limit the use of natural gas, petroleum, and coal, or dramatically increase their prices.

Below are some facts about Wisconsin’s regulatory environment that are likely to affect the cost of energy or the cost of using energy. Wisconsin has thus far avoided many of the costly energy policies other states are implementing.

  • Wisconsin does not cap greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Wisconsin is a member of the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, a regional agreement among six American governors and one Canadian premier to target greenhouse gas reductions. The central component of this agreement is the eventual enactment of a cap-and-trade scheme, perhaps supported by low-carbon fuel standards and other supplemental policies. The Wisconsin state legislature would have to approve any cap-and-trade plan put forth by the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord.
  • Wisconsin requires that utilities generate from renewable resources a certain percentage of the electricity that they sell. The state’s renewable portfolio standard, updated in 2006, mandates that utilities generate 10 percent of electricity sold from renewables by December 31, 2015.[i]
  • Wisconsin does not require gasoline to be mixed with renewable fuels. However, the state requires the use of reformulated gasoline blended with ethanol in southeastern corner of Wisconsin.[ii]
  • Wisconsin does not impose automobile fuel economy standards similar to California’s, which attempts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles.
  • Wisconsin requires new residential and commercial buildings to meet energy efficiency standards. One-family or two-family residential buildings must adhere to the Uniform Dwelling Code (UDC), which incorporates the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).[iii] The IECC, developed by the International Code Council, is a model code that mandates certain energy efficiency standards. Multi-family buildings must meet the 2000 IECC, while commercial buildings must meet the 2006 IECC.[iv] Additionally, new, renovated, or retrofitted state-owned and state-funded buildings must meet LEED standards or comparable guidelines.[v] LEED standards are based on the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.
  • Wisconsin does not impose state-based appliance efficiency standards. However, Senate Bill 459, enacted in 2006, imposes appliance efficiency standards for state buildings.[vi] These standards must meet federal Environmental Protection Agency standards, federal energy management standards, or standards developed by the American Society of Heating and Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers.
  • Wisconsin allows utilities to “decouple” revenue from the sale of electricity and natural gas. Some states decouple revenue from actual sales, allowing utilities to increase their revenue by selling less electricity or natural gas.

Data Sources: Real GDP per capita 2008: Bureau of Economic Analysis, News Release: GDP by State (June 2, 2009), http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/gdp_ state/gsp_newsrelease.htm; Unemployment: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment–February 2010 (Mar. 10, 2010); Gasoline Prices: American Automobile Association, AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report (Mar. 30, 2010); Electricity Prices: Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly, Table 5.6.B., Average Retail Price of Electricity,  (March 15, 2010), http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table5_6_b.html; Electricity Generation Data: Energy Information Administration, Electricity Generation 2009, http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/generation_state_mon.xls.

[i] Wis. Stat. Chapter 196 (2007), http://nxt.legis.state.wi.us/nxt/gateway.dll?f=templates&fn=default.htm&vid=WI:Default&d=stats&jd=ch.%20196.

[ii] Energy Information Administration, Wisconsin, Apr. 8, 2010, http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/state/state_energy_profiles.cfm?sid=WI.

[iii] Building Codes Assistance Project, Code Status: Wisconsin, http://bcap-energy.org/node/99.

[iv] Id.

[v] Wis. Exec. Order No. 145 (Apr. 11, 2006), http://www.wisgov.state.wi.us/journal_media_detail.asp?locid=19&prid=1907.

[vi] S.B. 459 (Wis. 2005), http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2005/data/acts/05Act141.pdf.

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