Wisconsin Laws and Incentives

Listed below are the summaries of all current Wisconsin laws, incentives, regulations, funding opportunities, and other initiatives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, advanced technologies, or air quality. You can go directly to summaries of:

State Incentives

Heavy-Duty Transit Bus Grants

The Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) offers grants for the replacement of eligible public transit buses. Funding is available for the replacement and scrapping of model year 1992-2009 heavy-duty public transit buses with new replacement diesel or alternative fueled buses. The program is funded by Wisconsin’s portion of the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust. For more information, including how to apply, see the DOA VW Mitigation Program page.

Renewable Fuel Producer Excise Tax and Inspection Exemption

The first 1,000 gallons of renewable fuel that an individual produces each year are exempt from the motor vehicle fuel excise tax, the petroleum inspection fee, and any petroleum inspection requirements not required under federal law. These exemptions only apply if the fuel is used in the individual's personal vehicle and is not sold. An individual may also produce renewable fuel for personal use without a business tax registration certificate or a motor vehicle fuel tax license. For more information see the Wisconsin Department of Revenue Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax website. (Reference Wisconsin Statutes 78.01(2n) and 168.05(6))

Energy Innovation Grants

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission’s (PSC) Office of Energy Innovation (OEI) offers grants for qualified renewable energy and transportation technologies that result in reduced energy consumption. The application period is currently closed (verified November 2018). For more information, including how to apply, see OEI’s Energy Innovation Grant Program website.

Alternative Fuel Tax Refund for Taxis

A person using alternative fuel to operate a taxi used to transport passengers may be reimbursed for the paid amount of the Wisconsin state fuel tax. Refund claims must be filed within one year of the fuel purchase date and must be for a minimum of 100 gallons of alternative fuel. (Reference Wisconsin Statutes 78.75(1m)(a)(1))

Alternative Fuel Tax Exemption

A county, city, village, town, or other political subdivision may not levy or collect any excise, license, privilege, or occupational tax on motor vehicle fuel, alternative fuels, or the purchase, sale, handling, or consumption of motor vehicle fuel or alternative fuels. (Reference Wisconsin Statutes 78.82)

Idle Reduction and Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV) Weight Exemption

Any vehicle or combination of vehicles equipped with fully functional idle reduction technology may exceed the state's gross and axle weight limits by up to 550 pounds (lbs.) to compensate for the additional weight of the idle reduction technology. To qualify, the vehicle operator must be able to prove the weight of the idle reduction technology with written certification and demonstrate that the idle reduction technology is fully functional at all times.

NGVs may exceed the weight limits by an amount equal to the difference of the weight of the natural gas tank and fueling system and the weight of a comparable diesel tank and fueling system or by up to 2,000 lbs., whichever is less.

(Reference Wisconsin Statutes 348.15(3)(f))

Biodiesel Fuel Use Incentive for Schools

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) may provide school districts financial aid to cover the incremental cost of purchasing biodiesel to operate school buses, as compared to the cost of petroleum diesel fuel. If in any fiscal year insufficient funds are available to provide school districts with the full amount of reimbursement for which a school district qualifies, DPI will prorate the available funds among the entitled school districts on a per pupil basis. For more information, see the Wisconsin Public Service Commission’s Office of Energy Innovation Funding website. (Reference Wisconsin Statutes 121.575)

Utility/Private Incentives

Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Charging Rate Incentive - Madison Gas and Electric (MGE)

MGE offers a time-of-use (TOU) electricity rate for customers with a PEV. For more information, see the MGE Shift & Save website.

Residential Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Rebate - Alliant Energy

Alliant Energy offers a $250 rebate to residential customers who purchase and install Level 2 EVSE. The EVSE must be purchased and installed between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018. For more information, including how to apply, see the Alliant Energy Electric Vehicle Chargers website.

Workplace and Public Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Rebate - Alliant Energy

Alliant Energy offers a rebate to commercial and industrial customers who purchase and install Level 2 EVSE for use by their employees or the public. The rebate is $1,000 for the purchase of a single connector EVSE, and $1,500 for a dual connector EVSE. Rebates are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, including eligibility requirements and how to apply, see the Alliant Energy rebates website.

Laws and Regulations

Alternative Fuel Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Use Policy

The Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) encourages state employees operating state-owned or leased motor vehicles to use hybrid electric vehicles or vehicles that operate on gasohol (a motor fuel containing at least 10% alcohol) or alternative fuels whenever feasible and cost effective. DOA must place a list of gasohol and alternative fueling station locations in each state-owned or state-leased motor vehicle for driver reference. DOA also encourages Wisconsin residents and state employees who use personal motor vehicles on state business to use gasohol and alternative fuels. (Reference Wisconsin Statutes 16.045)

Alternative Fuels Tax

A state excise tax is imposed on the use of alternative fuels. Alternative fuels include propane and natural gas. The current tax rates are as follows: $0.226 per gallon of propane; $0.247 per gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) of compressed natural gas; and $0.197 per GGE of liquefied natural gas. No tax is imposed on alternative fuels used by the U.S. government or its agencies (when presented with a valid exemption certificate) or on vehicles used for urban mass transportation of passengers. For more information, see the Wisconsin Department of Revenue Alternate Fuel Tax website. (Reference Wisconsin Statutes 78.40)

Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Fees

In addition to standard registration fees, all-electric vehicle owners must pay an annual fee of $100. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle owners must pay an annual fee of $75. (Reference Wisconsin Statutes 341.25(1)(L) and Wisconsin Act 9, 2019)

Alternative Fuel License

Any person acting as an alternative fuels dealer must hold a valid alternative fuel license and certificate from the Wisconsin Department of Administration. No person may use alternative fuels in the state unless the person holds a valid alternative fuel license or an authorized supplier has delivered the alternative fuel. For more information, see the Wisconsin Department of Revenue License, Permit and Registration Services website. (Reference Wisconsin Statutes 78.47)

Volkswagen Settlement Allocation

The Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) may use funds awarded to Wisconsin through the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust to replace vehicles in the state fleet. The DOA will also establish a grant program for alternative fuels and electric vehicle supply equipment. (Reference Wisconsin Statutes 16.047)

Renewable Fuel Sales Volume Goals

The Wisconsin Legislature sets goals for minimum annual renewable fuel sales volumes based on annual renewable fuel volumes required under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard. On an annual basis, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), in cooperation with the Department of Commerce, the Department of Revenue, and the Office of Innovation, must determine whether the annual goals for the previous year were met. If the goals were not met, DATCP must issue a report assessing the causes. If DATCP determines that the goals are likely to be met, it must establish requirements that may include: reporting, recordkeeping, or testing requirements; annual requirements for renewable fuel sales; quarterly or monthly requirements for renewable fuel sales if necessary to maintain fuel availability and smooth fluctuation in demand; a system for trading credits; procedures to temporarily suspend a sales requirement; and fees for administration and enforcement. (Reference Wisconsin Statutes 100.60)

Support for Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

The Wisconsin Office of the Governor established the Governor's Steering Committee on Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Testing and Deployment (Committee) to support the testing and deployment of AVs, identify corridors for AV testing and operation, and make recommendations for changes needed to existing state laws that impede the deployment of AVs. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation delivered a report to the governor detailing the findings of the Committee. (Reference Executive Order 245, 2017)

Sustainable Biofuels Production Practices

The Wisconsin Bioenergy Council (Council) must identify voluntary best management practices for sustainable biomass and biofuels production. The Council must report its findings, at least biennially, to agencies and private parties that assist biofuel feedstocks and biofuels producers. (Reference Wisconsin Statutes 93.47)

Biodiesel Definition

Biodiesel is defined as a fuel comprised of mono-alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids derived from vegetable oils or animal fats, either in pure form or mixed in any combination with petroleum-based diesel fuel. The definition of biodiesel is expanded for purposes of existing provisions that encourage alternative fuels use in state-owned vehicles. (Reference Wisconsin Statutes 16.045(1)(c))

Biodiesel Labeling Requirement

Biodiesel fuel retailers may not advertise or offer for sale fuel labeled as pure biodiesel unless the fuel contains no other type of petroleum product, is registered as biodiesel fuel with the federal government, and meets all applicable ASTM specifications. Retailers also may not sell fuel labeled as a biodiesel blend unless the fuel contains at least 2% pure biodiesel fuel, the blend percentage is identified, and the fuel meets all applicable ASTM standards. (Reference Wisconsin Statutes 168.14(2)-168.14(3))

Propane Supplier Requirements

A retail supplier may only distribute propane if the supplier holds a license from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. Suppliers must renew the license every two years. In addition, propane retail suppliers must also provide and maintain liability insurance. Penalties for noncompliance may apply. (Reference Wisconsin Statutes 101.16)

Low-Speed Vehicle Access to Roadways

A low-speed vehicle is defined as a self-propelled motor vehicle that conforms to the definition and requirements in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards under Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, section 571.500. A golf cart is not considered a low-speed vehicle. The governing body of any municipality may, by ordinance, allow a low-speed vehicle to operate on any roadway within the municipality that has a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less, regardless of whether the municipality has jurisdiction over the roadway. (Reference Wisconsin Statutes 349.26 and 340.01(27h))