Third-party Solar Financing in Wisconsin Unsettled

The first municipality to test the ambiguity of Wisconsin’s third-party solar financing law was the City of Monona in 2014, when they successfully installed four rooftop solar PV systems financed by a third party (see Solar Energy Financing Guide: Empowering Wisconsin Local Governments, 2017). Darlington School District followed suit with many nonprofit, religious, school, and municipal solar projects installed at no upfront cost to the organization due to financing by a third party able to use the federal solar investment tax incentive.  That financing mechanism was challenged by We Energies on a Milwaukee suite of projects to be financed by Eagle Point Solar (see March 2019 Director’s NoteEnergy On WI News May 2019). Eagle Point Solar filed a law suit. At the urging of We Energies, the Public Service Commission took public comment on third-party solar financing (Docket 9300-DR-104) though February 23rd. A ruling is likely this spring; but, with only 2 commissioners voting, the issue may remain unresolved.

Then, on February 25th, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin Circuit Court challenging two policies that restrict Wisconsin’s clean energy economy: whether Wisconsinites can use “third party financing” for solar energy systems on their properties and can utilize market incentives to reduce their power consumption during peak hours. The complaint can be viewed at earthjusticePress release