2021 - 2022 LEGISLATURE
August 5, 2021 - Introduced by Senators Stroebel and Cowles, cosponsored by
Representatives Ramthun, Cabral-Guevara, Gundrum, Moses, Thiesfeldt
and Tusler. Referred to Committee on Utilities, Technology and
1An Act to amend
66.0401 (1m) (intro.); and to create
60.61 (5s), 62.23 (7) (j), 2
66.0401 (1s), 196.01 (5) (b) 8. and 196.376 of the statutes; relating to:
3authorizing community solar programs and granting rule-making authority.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill authorizes the establishment of community solar programs through
which retail electric customers may subscribe to a community solar facility and
receive credits to their electric bills for electricity produced by the facility. Under the
bill, entities called subscriber organizations may own or operate community solar
facilities, which use solar energy to produce electricity and are connected to the
electric distribution grid. Retail electric customers may enter into a contract
(subscription) with a subscriber organization through which the customers receive
credits towards their electric bill based on their subscriptions. A subscriber and the
community solar facility to which the subscriber subscribes must be located within
the service territory of the same electric utility. In addition, a subscriber may not
receive an annual value of bill credits that exceeds the subscriber's average annual
electric bill. Also, under the bill, subscribers may not receive any state subsidy for
which generating electricity from a renewable energy resource is a criteria for
eligibility nor may subscribers receive any payment or other benefit from a tax
The bill requires an electric utility whose service territory includes subscribers
to a community solar facility to credit the electric bills of the subscribers based on
their subscriptions. Also, under the bill, at the time that an electric utility files tariffs
with the Public Service Commission, the electric utility must include options in the
tariffs that allow subscribers to receive bill credits for subscriptions to community
solar facilities. The PSC must promulgate rules allowing for establishment of
community solar facilities and for subscribers to receive electric bill credits for their
subscriptions. The PSC must also establish a rate used to calculate the amount of
bill credits that subscribers receive, and the rate must be set at a level that results
in robust community solar facility development and all customer classes having
access to subscriptions to community solar facilities. Under the bill, the PSC's
community solar program rules must also satisfy various other requirements,
including that the rules must modify existing interconnection standards, fees, and
processes to facilitate interconnection of community solar facilities with the electric
distribution grid and allow electric utilities to recover costs of applying credits to
subscribers' bills. The bill also provides that new community solar facilities may not
be established after June 30, 2031.
The bill also specifies that community solar facilities are subject to the zoning
ordinances applicable to the parcels on which they are located. Also under the bill,
a municipality may not grant an exception to its zoning ordinance if the exception
would authorize the installation of a community solar facility unless the exception
is approved by a two-thirds vote of the governing body of the municipality.
For further information see the state and local fiscal estimate, which will be
printed as an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
60.61 (5s) of the statutes is created to read:
60.61 (5s) Community solar facilities.
Notwithstanding sub. (4e), no permit 3
for a conditional use, as defined in sub. (4e) (a) 1., or use variance, as defined in s. 4
62.23 (7) (e) 7. a., authorizing the installation of a community solar facility under s. 5
196.376 may be granted unless approved by a two-thirds vote of the town board.
62.23 (7) (j) of the statutes is created to read:
(j) Community solar facilities.
Notwithstanding pars. (de) and (e), no 8
permit for a conditional use, as defined in par. (de) 1. a., or use variance, as defined 9
in par. (e) 7. a., authorizing the installation of a community solar facility under s. 10
196.376 may be granted unless approved by a two-thirds vote of the common council.
66.0401 (1m) (intro.) of the statutes is amended to read:
66.0401 (1m) Authority to restrict systems limited.
(intro.) No political 2
subdivision may place any restriction, either directly or in effect, on the installation 3
or use of a wind energy system that is more restrictive than the rules promulgated 4
by the commission under s. 196.378 (4g) (b). No
Except as provided in sub. (1s), no 5
political subdivision may place any restriction, either directly or in effect, on the 6
installation or use of a solar energy system, as defined in s. 13.48 (2) (h) 1. g., or a wind 7
energy system, unless the restriction satisfies one of the following conditions:
66.0401 (1s) of the statutes is created to read:
66.0401 (1s) Regulation of community solar facilities.
Community solar 10
facilities under s. 196.376 are subject to any zoning ordinance applicable to the parcel 11
on which the community solar facility is located. The conditions under s. 66.0401 12
(1m) do not apply to restrictions on community solar facilities imposed by a zoning 13
ordinance of a political subdivision.
196.01 (5) (b) 8. of the statutes is created to read:
(b) 8. A subscriber organization, as defined in s. 196.376 (1) (i), if, 16
besides owning or operating a community solar facility, the subscriber organization 17
does not otherwise directly or indirectly provide electricity to the public.
196.376 of the statutes is created to read:
19196.376 Community solar programs.
In this section:
(a) “Applicable bill credit rate” means the dollar-per-kilowatt-hour rate 21
determined by the commission that is used to calculate a subscriber's bill credit.
(b) “Bill credit” means the monetary value of the electricity in kilowatt-hours 23
generated by the community solar facility allocated to a subscriber to offset that 24
subscriber's electricity bill.
(c) “Community solar facility” means a facility that generates electricity by 2
means of a solar photovoltaic device that produces for its subscribers a bill credit for 3
the electricity generated in proportion to the size of their subscription, and to which 4
all of the following apply:
1. The facility is connected to the electric distribution grid serving the state.
2. At the time the facility is initially approved by the commission, the facility 7
is located on one or more parcels of land and is not located within one mile, measured 8
from the point of interconnection, of a solar facility under the control of the same 9
3. The facility has at least 3 subscribers.
4. The facility generates not more than 5 megawatts of electricity.
5. No subscriber holds more than a 40 percent interest in the output of the 13
6. Not less than 60 percent of the capacity of the facility is subscribed to by 15
subscriptions of not more than 40 kilowatts.
(d) “Control” means the possession, direct or indirect, of the power to direct the 17
management and policies of an entity through any method.
(e) “Electric utility” means a public utility that sells electricity at retail.
(f) “Non-ministerial permit” means a permit or approval necessary to construct 20
a community solar facility that is not granted based on discretion.
(g) “Renewable energy credit” means a tradable credit that represents one 22
megawatt hour of electricity produced from a renewable resource.
(h) “Subscriber” means a retail electric customer of an electric utility who 24
satisfies all of the following:
1. The subscriber owns one or more subscriptions to a community solar facility 2
interconnected with the electric utility.
2. The subscriber is located within the service territory of the electric utility 4
where the community solar facility is located.
(i) “Subscriber organization” means a for-profit or nonprofit entity that owns 6
or operates one or more community solar facilities.
(j) “Subscription” means a contract between a subscriber and the owner of a 8
community solar facility under which the estimated bill credits of the subscriber do 9
not exceed the average annual bill for the customer account to which the subscription 10
. (a) An electric utility shall provide a bill credit to a 12
subscriber's subsequent monthly electric bill for the proportional output of a 13
community solar facility attributable to that subscriber. The value of the bill credit 14
for the subscriber shall be calculated by multiplying the subscriber's portion of the 15
kilowatt-hour electricity production from
the community solar facility by the 16
applicable bill credit rate for the subscriber. Any amount of the bill credit that 17
exceeds the subscriber's monthly bill shall be carried over and applied to the next 18
month's bill in perpetuity.
(b) No subscriber may receive a subsidy from this state for which generating 20
electricity from a renewable energy resource is a criteria for eligibility and no 21
subscriber may receive a payment or other benefit from a tax incremental district 22
under s. 66.1105.
(c) An electric utility shall provide bill credits to a community solar facility's 24
subscribers for electricity generated by the community solar facility for not less than 25
25 years from the date the community solar facility is first placed into operation.
(d) A subscriber organization shall, periodically and in a standardized 2
electronic format, provide to the electric utility whose service territory includes the 3
location of the subscriber organization's community solar facility a subscriber list 4
indicating the percentage of generation attributable to each of the
retail customers who are subscribers to a community solar facility in accordance with 6
the subscriber's portion of the output of the community solar facility. The electric 7
utility shall create a platform for the subscriber organization to periodically 8
communicate updates to its subscriber list to reflect canceling subscribers and new 9
subscribers. The electric utility shall apply bill credits to the bills of subscribers 10
within one billing cycle following the cycle during which the energy earning the bill 11
credits is generated by the community solar facility.
(e) An electric utility shall, on a monthly basis and in a standardized electronic 13
format, provide to a subscriber organization having a community solar facility 14
within the electric utility's service territory a report indicating the total value of bill 15
credits generated by the subscriber organization's community solar facility in the 16
prior month as well as the amount of the bill credit applied to each subscriber.
(f) A subscriber organization may accumulate bill credits if all of the electricity 18
generated by a community solar facility is not allocated to subscribers in a given 19
month. On an annual basis, the subscriber organization shall furnish to the electric 20
utility whose service territory includes the location of the subscriber organization's 21
community solar facility instructions for distributing accumulated bill credits to 22
subscribers. The electric utility shall pay accumulated bill credits to a subscriber 23
based on the subscriber's retail electricity rate.
(g) Any renewable energy credits created from a community solar facility's 25
production of electricity are the property of the subscriber organization that owns or
operates the community solar facility. The subscriber organization may sell, 2
accumulate, retire, or distribute to subscribers the subscriber organization's 3
renewable energy credits.