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Wisconsin   Wisconsin Profile

State Profile and Energy Estimates

Profile AnalysisPrint State Energy Profile
(overview, data, & analysis)

Last Updated: April 20, 2017

Overview

Bordered on three sides by navigable waterways, Wisconsin lies between Lakes Superior and Michigan to the north and east and the Mississippi and Saint Croix Rivers to the west. The state lacks fossil fuel resources of its own but ships coal and petroleum products from its many ports.1,2 The Great Lakes port at Superior transports coal from Wyoming and Montana to the east through the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Seaway system.3 Petroleum products and coal are also shipped from other Wisconsin ports across the Great Lakes and along the Upper Mississippi River System.4 The state's fertile soil and rich agricultural economy make it a leader in the market value of agricultural products.5,6 Wisconsin's corn crop feeds the state's ethanol refineries, and manure from some of the state's more than 1 million cows is converted to energy in anaerobic digesters.7,8,9 With more than 16 million acres of forestland, Wisconsin has an ample biomass resource. Dams throughout the state supply hydroelectric power.10,11 Wind resources have been developed primarily on the ridges in eastern Wisconsin near Lake Michigan and in the state's Western Uplands region.12 Solar power is contributing an increasing amount of electricity generation with the development of community solar gardens across the state.13,14

Despite winters that are cold and snowy, with temperatures in the northern part of the state falling to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit almost every winter, Wisconsin's energy consumption per person is less than almost half the states and only slightly above the national average.15,16 The electric power sector is the largest energy-consumer in the state followed closely by industry.17 Wisconsin's industrial base includes agriculture and the manufacture of machinery, fabricated metal products, food products, chemicals, and paper products.18 An important dairy state, Wisconsin produces one-third of the cheese made in the nation. Beer is the state's most valuable processed beverage product.19

Petroleum

More than 150 fueling stations in Wisconsin sell E85, the 85% ethanol-gasoline blend.

Wisconsin has no crude oil production or reserves, but it does have one small oil refinery at Superior in the northwestern part of the state.20,21 The Superior refinery can process about 38,000 barrels of crude oil per calendar day, and it produces motor gasoline, diesel, asphalt, and heavy fuel oils. Crude oil arrives at the refinery from Canada and North Dakota via railcar and a major crude oil pipeline.22,23,24 The pipeline system transports crude oil south across the state to the Chicago area and also across northern Wisconsin to Michigan's Upper Peninsula and then south to other Midwestern refineries.25 Tank trucks, railcars, and several petroleum product pipeline systems deliver refined products to Wisconsin markets from the refinery in Superior and from refineries in the Chicago and Minneapolis metropolitan areas.26,27

More than three-fourths of the petroleum consumed in Wisconsin is used in the transportation sector.28 Motor gasoline is reformulated to burn more cleanly than conventional motor gasoline by blending it with ethanol. Reformulated gasoline has been required in a six-county area in southeastern Wisconsin since 1995. However, E10, the 10% ethanol-gasoline blend, is sold at most retail gasoline stations in Wisconsin, and other ethanol fuel blends are also available across the state.29 More than 150 fueling stations statewide sell E85, the 85% ethanol blend.30 Ethanol is one of the few energy sources that Wisconsin produces and sends to other states.31,32

Natural gas

Two-thirds of Wisconsin households use natural gas for home heating.

Wisconsin has no natural gas production. Although eastern Wisconsin is within the boundaries of the Michigan Basin, a bowl-shaped geologic structure centered in Michigan's Lower Peninsula, Wisconsin does not have any of the Basin's prolific natural gas reserves.33,34 The state's natural gas needs are met by several interstate pipelines. Wisconsin's natural gas supply arrives by interstate pipelines from natural gas fields in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Kansas, and Alberta, Canada.35 Much of the natural gas supply is transported to the state from western Canada and through U.S. market centers in other Midwestern states. Wisconsin has no natural gas market centers.36,37 Natural gas enters the state primarily from Illinois and Minnesota, and most of the natural gas that is not consumed in Wisconsin continues on to Michigan.38 The amount of natural gas shipped through the state has declined over the past decade, but total natural gas consumption in Wisconsin has remained fairly constant.39,40 Wisconsin has no underground natural gas storage fields.41

Wisconsin's industrial and residential sectors are the state's largest natural gas consumers. Use by the electric power sector has increased markedly in recent years, and almost equaled that of the residential sector in 2016.42 About two-thirds of Wisconsin households use natural gas as their primary fuel for home heating.43

Coal

Wisconsin has no active coal mines or recoverable coal reserves.44 Coal shipments from other states are handled at several of Wisconsin's ports along the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes.45 Most of the coal consumed in Wisconsin arrives by rail from Wyoming. Almost all of it is used by the power sector to generate electricity. Nearly all the remaining coal consumed in the state is used by the industrial sector.46

Electricity

Coal is the primary fuel used for electricity generation in Wisconsin, accounting for about half of the state's net generation.47 Natural gas-fired power plants have contributed an increasing share of the state's net generation, reaching almost one-fourth of Wisconsin's total net generation for the first time in 2016.48 Nuclear reactors and, to a much lesser extent, hydroelectric power, wind, and biomass, supply almost all the state's remaining net generation.49 Until recently, two nuclear power plants supplied about one-fifth of Wisconsin's electricity generation.50 However, the Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant ceased operations in May 2013. The Point Beach nuclear power plant, the state's only operating nuclear facility, has two nuclear reactors. Point Beach's Unit 1 reactor, which started commercial operations in 1970, is one of the oldest operating reactors in the United States. In 2005, Point Beach's operating license was extended 25 years (for a total of 60 years). Nuclear power now supplies about 16% of the state's total net generation.51,52 To meet demand, Wisconsin is a net electricity importer.53

Per capita electricity use in Wisconsin is near the national average, despite the cold winters, in part because of the heavy reliance on natural gas for home heating.54,55 Only about one in seven Wisconsin households rely on electricity to heat their homes.56 Wisconsin's retail sales of electricity to the commercial and industrial sectors are almost equal and are only slightly greater than sales to the residential sector.57

Renewable energy

Wisconsin's renewable electricity generation comes from hydroelectric, wind, and biomass power plants. Those renewable resources provide nearly one-tenth of the state's total net electricity generation. Hydroelectric power contributes almost half of the state's net electricity generation from renewable resources.58 Of the approximately 3,900 dams in Wisconsin, about 150 are used to generate hydroelectric power. Large hydroelectric dams were constructed in the 1950s and earlier, but new hydroelectric facilities are being created by adding generators at existing dams.59,60

Wind supplies almost three-tenths of the state's renewable electricity generation.61 Wisconsin's onshore wind energy resource is modest, with the greatest wind energy potential in the east, along Lake Michigan.62,63 Most of the state's wind farms are located there. Two smaller wind farms operate in western Wisconsin.64 Additional wind resource potential exists offshore in the Wisconsin portion of Lake Michigan.65 The state's biomass resources, which account for more than one-fourth of Wisconsin's renewable electricity generation, include landfill, agricultural, and forest waste.66 There are several waste-to-energy systems (anaerobic digesters) and landfill facilities in Wisconsin that capture biogas for use in power generation.67 Wood and wood waste from paper and pulp mills are also used to generate electricity.68 Most of the wood-fueled biomass power plants are in more heavily forested northern Wisconsin.69,70 About 1 in 20 households in the state heat with wood.71 Wisconsin also has a small amount of electricity generation from its solar resource. Almost all the solar generation in Wisconsin is from distributed (customer-sited, small-scale) facilities with less than 1 megawatt of capacity.72 Several much larger, utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects are in development.73,74

Wisconsin, one of the top 10 ethanol-producing states, has a production capacity of 537 million gallons of ethanol per year.

Wisconsin is using its agricultural resources to move toward its renewable goals. By capitalizing on its status as one of the nation's leading corn-producing states, Wisconsin can produce 537 million gallons of ethanol per year from facilities that use corn as a feedstock. The state is among the top 10 ethanol-producing states in the nation.75,76 There are nine ethanol plants in the state, primarily located in agriculturally-rich southern and central Wisconsin.77,78 The state has three facilities that produce biodiesel from corn, soy, and canola oils.79 There are at least 10 plants in Wisconsin that use hardwood, softwood, or paper waste to manufacture fuel-grade wood pellets.80

Wisconsin is trying to attain energy sustainability through the development of its renewable resources. The state legislature has established a number of energy goals, including increased energy efficiency, increased use of renewable energy, and reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide by increasing the amount of forested land in the state. Wisconsin's renewable energy goal is for all new installed electricity generation capacity to come from renewable energy resources to the extent that it is cost-effective and technically feasible.81,82 In 1999, Wisconsin became the first state to enact a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) without restructuring its electric utility industry. Later modifications to the RPS set a target that 10% of retail sales statewide come from renewable resources by the end of 2015. Specific percentage requirements varied by provider, and power generated out of state could be counted toward the goal if it was sold to Wisconsin consumers. After 2015, the RPS requires that each electricity provider maintain, at a minimum, their 2015 percentage of retail sales from renewable resources.83 Wisconsin utilities met their 10% RPS renewable energy goal two years early in 2013.84

Endnotes

1 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Wisconsin Profile Data, Reserves and Supply, accessed March 11, 2017.
2 Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Bureau of Planning and Economic Development, Economic Impact of
Wisconsin's Commercial Ports (December 2010), p. 1, 2.
3 Bergeron, Dale, "What's in the Ships?" Minnesota Sea Grant (May 2007).
4 Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Bureau of Planning and Economic Development, Economic Impact of
Wisconsin's Commercial Ports (December 2010), p. 2-8.
5 NETSTATE, Wisconsin, The Geography of Wisconsin, updated February 25, 2016.
6 U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2016 State Agriculture Overview, Wisconsin, Census State Profile: Wisconsin, Ranked Items Within The U.S., 2012.
7 Ethanol Producer Magazine, U.S. Ethanol Plants, updated February 14, 2017.
8 U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2016 State Agriculture Overview, Wisconsin.
9 Wisconsin Office of Energy Innovation, Wisconsin Biogas Survey Report (2016), p. 2.
10 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry Resources, Wisconsin's Forest Resources (2015), p. 2.
11 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin State Profile, Overview, Hydroelectric Power Plant Map Layer, accessed March 5, 2017.
12 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin State Profile, Overview, Wind Power Plant Map Layer, accessed March 11, 2017.
13 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Table 1.17.B.
14 RENEW Wisconsin, Annual Report, July 2015 to June 2016 (September 2016), p. 3-4.
15 Wisconsin State Climatology Office, Climate of Wisconsin, accessed March 12, 2017.
16 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2014, DOE/EIA-0214(2014) (June 2016), Table C13, Energy Consumption Estimates per Capita by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2014.
17 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2014, DOE/EIA-0214(2014) (June 2016), Wisconsin Tables CT4, CT5, CT6, CT7, CT8.
18 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Regional Data, GDP and Personal Income, Annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by State, GDP in Current Dollars, All Industries, Wisconsin, 2014.
19 NETSTATE, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Economy, updated February 25, 2016.
20 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Profile Data, Reserves and Supply, accessed March 13, 2017.
21 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin State Profile, Overview, Petroleum Refinery Map Layer, accessed March 13, 2017.
22 U.S. EIA, Number and Capacity of Petroleum Refineries, Wisconsin, Annual as of January 1, 2016.
23 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Profile Data, Distribution and Marketing, accessed March 13, 2017.
24 Calumet, Calumet Superior Refining, Superior, Wisconsin, accessed March 13, 2017.
25 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin State Profile, Overview, Crude Oil Pipeline Map and Petroleum Refinery Layers, accessed March 13, 2017.
26 Magellan Midstream Partners L. P., Asset Map, accessed March 13, 2017.
27 West Shore Pipeline, Home, accessed March 13, 2017.
28 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table F15, Total Petroleum Consumption Estimates, 2014.
29 Wisconsin State Energy Office, Wisconsin Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicle Technologies Use Report, 2013 Annual Report (November 2013), p. 10.
30 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, Ethanol Fueling Station Locations, Wisconsin, accessed March 13, 2017.
31 Wisconsin State Energy Office, 2013 Wisconsin Energy Statistics, Chapter 2, Energy Use by Type of Fuel, Petroleum, p. 39.
32 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Profile Data, Environment, accessed March 13, 2017.
33 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Profile Data, Reserves and Supply, accessed March 14, 2017.
34 Dolton, Gordon L., Michigan Basin Province (063), U.S. Geological Survey (1995), p. 1.
35 Wisconsin State Energy Office, 2013 Wisconsin Energy Statistics, Energy Use-Natural Gas, Wisconsin Natural Gas Deliveries, by Pipeline Company, p. 47, accessed March 14, 2017.
36 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Profile Data, Distribution and Marketing, accessed March 14, 2017.
37 U.S. EIA, About U.S. Natural Gas Pipelines, Transporting Natural Gas, Natural Gas Pipelines in the Midwest Region, accessed March 14, 2017.
38 U.S. EIA, International and Interstate Movements of Natural Gas by State, Wisconsin, Annual, 2015.
39 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Natural Gas International and Interstate Receipts, accessed March 14, 2017.
40 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Natural Gas Total Consumption, accessed March 14, 2017.
41 U.S. EIA, Underground Natural Gas Storage Capacity, Total Number of Existing Fields, accessed March 14, 2017.
42 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Consumption by End Use, Wisconsin, accessed March 14, 2017.
43 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, Wisconsin, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate.
44 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Profile Data, Reserves and Supply, accessed March 14, 2017.
45 Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Bureau of Planning and Economic Development, Economic Impact of Wisconsin's Commercial Ports (January 2014).
46 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Distribution Report 2015 (November 2016), Wisconsin Table DS-46, Domestic Coal Distribution, by Destination State, 2015, p. 99.
47 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.4.B.
48 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2016, 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.7.B; (February 2015, 2013), Tables 1.6.B, 1.10.B; (March 2011, 2009, 2007, 2005), Tables 1.6.B, 1.10.B.
49 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.9.B, 1.10.B, 1.14.B, 1.15.B.
50 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin State Nuclear Profile 2010, accessed March 14, 2017.
51 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Kewaunee Power Station, accessed March 14, 2017.
52 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.9.B.
53 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Electricity Profile 2015, Table 10, Supply and disposition of electricity, 1990 through 2015.
54 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2014, DOE/EIA-0214(2014) (June 2016), Table C11, Energy Consumption Estimates by Source, Ranked by State, 2014.
55 U.S. Census Bureau, State Population Totals Tables: 2010-2016, Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016 (NST-EST2016-01).
56 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, Wisconsin, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate.
57 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Table 5.4.B.
58 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B, 1.14.B, 1.15.B.
59 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Dams overview, accessed March 14, 2017.
60 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Hydro-electric generation, accessed March 14, 2017.
61 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B, 1.11.B, 1.14.B.
62 American Wind Energy Association, Wisconsin Wind Energy, accessed March 14, 2017.
63 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, WINDExchange, Wisconsin Wind Resource Map and Potential Wind Capacity, accessed March 14, 2017.
64 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Profile Overview, Wind Power Plant Map Layer, accessed March 14, 2017.
65 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, WINDExchange, Wisconsin Offshore 90-Meter Wind Map and Wind Resource Potential, accessed March 14, 2017.
66 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B, 1.11.B, 1.15.B.
67 Wisconsin Office of Energy Innovation, Wisconsin Biogas Survey Report (2016), p. 2.
68 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Form EIA-860 detailed data, 2015 Form EIA-860 Data, Schedule 3,'Generator Data' (Operable Units Only), accessed March 14, 2017.
69 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Profile Overview, Biomass Power Plant Map Layer, accessed March 14, 2017.
70 Kassulke, Natasha, and Katherine Esposito, "Fast forestry facts," Wisconsin Natural Resources (December 2005).
71 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, Wisconsin, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate.
72 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Table 1.17.B.
73 Content, Thomas, "Projects by Dairyland, Xcel would double state's solar power output," The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (January 18, 2017).
74 Content, Thomas, "NextEra eyes big solar project at nuclear plant," The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (January 30, 2017).
75 U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2016 State Agriculture Overview, Wisconsin.
76 Nebraska Energy Office, Ethanol Facilities' Capacity by State, updated October 20, 2016.
77 Ethanol Producer Magazine, U.S. Ethanol Plants, All Platforms, Existing, updated February 14, 2017.
78 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Profile Overview, Ethanol Plant Map Layer, accessed March 15, 2017.
79 Biodiesel Magazine, USA Plants, existing, updated December 12, 2016.
80 Biomass Magazine, Pellet Plants, existing, updated January 27, 2017.
81 Wisconsin State Legislature, 2015-16 Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, Chapter 1, Section 1.12, State energy policy (March 11, 2017).
82 Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, Renewable Energy, accessed March 15, 2017.
83 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, Wisconsin Renewable Portfolio Standard, updated November 18, 2015.
84 Content, Thomas, "Wisconsin utilities hit 10% renewable energy goal, two years early," The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (June 12, 2014).