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Wisconsin   Wisconsin Profile

State Profile and Energy Estimates

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

Last Updated: April 19, 2018

Overview

Bordered on three sides by navigable waterways, Wisconsin lies between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan to the north and east and the Mississippi River and the Saint Croix River to the west. The state lacks fossil fuel resources of its own but ships coal and petroleum products from its many ports.1,2 Coal from Wyoming and Montana is transferred from railcars to ships at the Great Lakes port at Superior for shipment east through the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Seaway.3 Coal and petroleum products are also shipped from other Wisconsin ports across the Great Lakes and along the Upper Mississippi River System. Pipelines carry crude oil and petroleum products across the state.4,5

Wisconsin does have renewable energy resources. The state's fertile soil and rich agricultural economy make it a leader in the market value of agricultural products.6,7 Wisconsin's corn crop feeds the state's ethanol refineries, and manure from some of the state's millions of cows, beef cattle, hogs, sheep, and goats, as well as industrial and municipal waste, is converted to energy in anaerobic digesters.8,9,10 With more than 16 million acres of forestland, Wisconsin has ample biomass resources. Dams throughout the state supply hydroelectric power.11,12 Wind resources have been developed primarily on the ridges in eastern Wisconsin near Lake Michigan and in the southwestern part of the state.13 Although the state has limited solar potential, solar power is contributing a small but increasing amount of Wisconsin's electricity generation.14,15

Despite winters that are cold and snowy, with temperatures frequently falling to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit in the northern part of the state, Wisconsin's energy consumption per capita is less than that of almost half the states and only slightly above the national average.16,17 Industry is the end-use sector that consumes the largest amount of energy in the state.18 Wisconsin's industrial base includes agriculture and the manufacture of food products, machinery, fabricated metal products, chemicals, and paper products.19 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.20

Petroleum

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.21,22 The Superior refinery can process about 38,000 barrels of crude oil per calendar day, and it produces motor gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and heavy fuel oils. Crude oil arrives at the refinery from Canada and North Dakota via railcar and a major crude oil pipeline.23,24,25 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.26 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.27,28

More than 170 fueling stations in Wisconsin sell E85, the 85% ethanol-15% motor gasoline blend.

Almost four-fifths of the petroleum consumed in Wisconsin is used in the transportation sector.29 Motor gasoline is reformulated to burn more cleanly than conventional motor gasoline by blending it with ethanol. Reformulated gasoline is required in a six-county area in southeastern Wisconsin.30 However, E10, the 10% ethanol-90% motor gasoline blend, is sold at most retail gasoline stations in Wisconsin, and other ethanol-motor gasoline blends are also available across the state. More than 170 fueling stations statewide sell E85, the 85% ethanol-15% motor gasoline blend.31 Ethanol is one of the few energy sources that Wisconsin produces and sends to other states.32 The industrial sector consumes most of the rest of the petroleum used in the state, followed by the residential sector, where almost one in seven Wisconsin households use petroleum products, including propane, fuel oil, and kerosene, for home heating.33,34

Natural gas

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

Although eastern Wisconsin is within the western boundary of the natural gas-rich Michigan Basin, a geologic structure centered in Michigan's Lower Peninsula, Wisconsin does not have any of the Basin's prolific natural gas reserves or production.35,36 Wisconsin's natural gas needs are met by several interstate pipelines. The natural gas supply arrives by interstate pipelines from natural gas fields in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Kansas, and Alberta, Canada and is transported into the state through U.S. market centers in other Midwestern states.37,38 Natural gas enters Wisconsin primarily from Illinois and Minnesota, and most of the natural gas that is not consumed in Wisconsin continues on to Michigan.39 The total amount of natural gas shipped through the state has declined over the past decade, but natural gas consumption in Wisconsin remained fairly constant until 2012 and has increased slightly since then.40,41 Wisconsin has no underground natural gas storage fields.42

Wisconsin's industrial and residential sectors are the state's largest natural gas consumers. Natural gas use by the electric power sector has increased markedly in recent years and almost equaled that of the residential sector in 2016.43 About two-thirds of Wisconsin households use natural gas as their primary fuel for home heating.44

Coal

Wisconsin has no active coal mines or recoverable coal reserves.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. Small amounts of coal from a variety of states are delivered to industrial, commercial, and industrial users in Wisconsin. Most of that coal arrives by rail, but shipments also arrive on the Great Lakes and by river barge.46 A very small amount of coal is used for home heating.47 Transshipments of coal from other states are handled at several of Wisconsin's ports along the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.48

Electricity

Coal is the primary fuel used for electricity generation in Wisconsin, accounting for more than half of the state's net generation.49 Natural gas-fired power plants have contributed an increasing share of the state's net generation and have provided more than one-fifth of Wisconsin's total net generation since 2016.50,51 Nuclear reactors and, to a much lesser extent, hydroelectric power, wind, and biomass, supply almost all the state's remaining net generation.52 Until recently, two nuclear power plants supplied about one-fifth of Wisconsin's electricity generation.53,54 However, the Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant ceased operations in May 2013.55 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.56 In 2005, Point Beach's operating license was extended 25 years (for a total of 60 years).57 That nuclear power plant now supplies about 15% of the state's total net generation.58 To meet consumer demand, Wisconsin is a net electricity importer.59

Per capita electricity use in Wisconsin is near the national average, despite the cold winters, in part because most Wisconsin homes are heated with natural gas, not electricity.60,61 Only slightly more than one in seven Wisconsin households rely on electricity to heat their homes.62 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.63

Renewable energy

Wisconsin, one of the top 10 ethanol-producing states, has a production capacity of more than 500 million gallons of ethanol per year.

Wisconsin is among the top 10 ethanol-producing states in the nation. The state is one of the nation's leading corn-producers, and Wisconsin's ethanol plants can produce more than 500 million gallons of ethanol per year from facilities that use corn as a feedstock.64,65 There are nine ethanol plants in the state. Most of them are located in agriculturally-rich southern and central Wisconsin.66,67 The state also has two facilities that produce biodiesel from distillers corn oil and used cooking oils.68

Renewable resources provide nearly one-tenth of Wisconsin's total net electricity generation. The state's renewable electricity generation comes from hydroelectric, wind, biomass, and solar power plants. Hydroelectric power contributes almost half of the state's renewable electricity generation.69 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.70,71

Biomass resources in Wisconsin account for more than one-fourth of the state's renewable electricity generation.72 There are several waste-to-energy systems (anaerobic digesters) and landfill facilities in Wisconsin that capture biogas for use in power generation.73 Agricultural and forest waste also contribute to the state's net electricity generation. Wood and wood waste from paper and pulp mills are used to generate electricity.74 Most of the wood-fueled biomass power plants are in more heavily forested northern Wisconsin.75,76 About 1 in 25 households in the state heat with wood.77 There also are at least nine wood pellet plants in Wisconsin that use hardwood, softwood, or paper waste to manufacture fuel-grade wood pellets that can be used for power generation or for heating.78

Wind supplies about one-fourth of Wisconsin's renewable electricity generation.79 The state's onshore wind energy resource is modest, with the greatest wind energy potential in the east, along Lake Michigan and in isolated areas in the western part of the state. Most of the state's wind farms are located in eastern and southern Wisconsin.80,81 Additional wind resource potential exists offshore in the Wisconsin portion of Lake Michigan.82 Wisconsin also has a small amount of electricity generation from its solar resource. Most of the solar power generation in the state is at distributed (customer-sited, small-scale) facilities with less than 1 megawatt of capacity, but, in 2016, there were two larger solar facilities in operation in southern Wisconsin.83,84 Additional utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects are in development.85,86

The Wisconsin 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.87,88 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 of 10% of retail electricity sales statewide from electricity generated 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.89 Wisconsin utilities met their 10% RPS renewable energy goal two years early, in 2013.90

Endnotes

1 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Wisconsin Profile Data, Reserves, accessed March 2, 2018.
2 Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Bureau of Planning and Economic Development, Economic Impact of
Wisconsin's Commercial Ports (January 2014), 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 (January 2014), p. 2-8.
5 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Profile Overview, Crude Oil Pipeline and Petroleum Product Pipeline Map Layers, accessed March 2, 2018.
6 Wisconsin State Climatology Office, Climate of Wisconsin (March 25, 2003).
7 U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2017 State Agriculture Overview, Wisconsin, Census State Profile: Wisconsin, Ranked Items Within The U.S., 2012.
8 "U.S. Ethanol Plants, All Platforms, Operational," Ethanol Producer Magazine, updated January 24, 2018.
9 U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2017 State Agriculture Overview, Wisconsin.
10 Wisconsin Office of Energy Innovation, Wisconsin Biogas Survey Report, p. 2, accessed March 2, 2018.
11 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry Resources, Wisconsin's Forest Resources (2017), p. 2.
12 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin State Profile, Overview, Hydroelectric Power Plant Map Layer, accessed March 2, 2018.
13 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin State Profile, Overview, Wind Power Plant Map Layer, accessed March 7, 2018.
14 National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Solar Maps, U.S. State Solar Resource Maps, Direct Normal Solar Resource of Wisconsin (April 4, 2017).
15 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Table 1.17.B.
16 Wisconsin State Climatology Office, Climate of Wisconsin (March 25, 2003).
17 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2015, DOE/EIA-0214(2015) (June 2017), Table C13, Energy Consumption Estimates per Capita by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2015.
18 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2015, DOE/EIA-0214(2015) (June 2017), Table C10, Energy Consumption Estimates by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2015.
19 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, 2015.
20 NETSTATE, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Economy, updated December 19, 2017.
21 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Profile Data, Reserves and Supply & Distribution, accessed March 7, 2018.
22 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin State Profile, Overview, Petroleum Refinery Map Layer, accessed March 8, 2018.
23 U.S. EIA, Number and Capacity of Petroleum Refineries, Wisconsin, Annual as of January 1, 2018.
24 Brelsford, Robert, "Husky Energy acquires Wisconsin refinery," Oil and Gas Journal (November 9, 2017).
25 Husky Energy, Operations/Downstream, accessed March 9, 2018.
26 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin State Profile, Overview, Crude Oil Pipeline Map and Petroleum Refinery Layers, accessed March 9, 2018.
27 Magellan Midstream Partners L. P., Asset Map, accessed March 9, 2018.
28 West Shore Pipeline, Home, accessed March 9, 2018.
29 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table F15, Total Petroleum Consumption Estimates, 2015.
30 Larson, B. K., U.S. Gasoline Requirements, ExxonMobil (January 2018).
31 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, Ethanol Fueling Station Locations, Wisconsin, accessed March 9, 2018.
32 Wisconsin Public Service Commission, 2013 Wisconsin Energy Statistics, Chapter 2, Energy Use by Type of Fuel, Petroleum, p. 39.
33 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table F15, Total Petroleum Consumption Estimates, 2015.
34 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, Wisconsin, Table 25040, Home Heating Fuel, 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
35 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Profile Data, Reserves and Supply & Distribution, accessed March 9, 2018.
36 Dolton, Gordon L., Michigan Basin Province (063), U.S. Geological Survey (1995), p. 1.
37 Wisconsin State Energy Office, 2013 Wisconsin Energy Statistics, Energy Use-Natural Gas, Wisconsin Natural Gas Deliveries, by Pipeline Company, p. 47.
38 U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Midwest Natural Gas Market: Regional Map, accessed March 9, 2018.
39 U.S. EIA, International and Interstate Movements of Natural Gas by State, Wisconsin, Annual, 2016.
40 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Natural Gas International and Interstate Receipts, 2005-16.
41 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Natural Gas Total Consumption, 1997-2016.
42 U.S. EIA, Underground Natural Gas Storage Capacity, Total Number of Existing Fields, 2011-16.
43 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Consumption by End Use, Wisconsin, 2012-17.
44 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, Wisconsin, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate.
45 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Profile Data, Reserves and Supply & Distribution, accessed March 9, 2018.
46 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Distribution Report 2016 (November 2017), Wisconsin Table DS-46, Domestic Coal Distribution, by Destination State, 2016.
47 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, Wisconsin, Table 25040, Home Heating Fuel, 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
48 Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Bureau of Planning and Economic Development, Economic Impact of Wisconsin's Commercial Ports (January 2014).
49 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Tables 1.3.B, 1.4.B.
50 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Tables 1.3.B, 1.7.B.
51 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Electricity Profile 2016, Table 5, Electric power industry generation by primary energy source, 1990 through 2016.
52 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Tables 1.9.B, 1.10.B, 1.14.B, 1.15.B.
53 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin State Nuclear Profile 2010, accessed March 9, 2018.
54 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Electricity Profile 2016, Table 5, Electric power industry generation by primary energy source, 1990 through 2016.
55 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Kewaunee Power Station, updated June 12, 2015.
56 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Point Beach Nuclear Plant, Unit 1, updated February 10, 2017.
57 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Point Beach Nuclear Plant, Units 1 & 2 - License Renewal, updated April 14, 2016.
58 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.9.B.
59 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Electricity Profile 2016, Table 10, Supply and disposition of electricity, 1990 through 2016.
60 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2015, DOE/EIA-0214(2015) (June 2017), Table C11, Energy Consumption Estimates by Source, Ranked by State, 2015.
61 U.S. Census Bureau, Data, State Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010-2017, Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017 (NST-EST2017-01).
62 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, Wisconsin, Table 25040, Home Heating Fuel, 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
63 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Table 5.4.B.
64 Nebraska Energy Office, Ethanol Facilities' Capacity by State, updated January 11, 2018.
65 U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2017 State Agriculture Overview, Wisconsin.
66 "U.S. Ethanol Plants, All Platforms, Operational," Ethanol Producer Magazine, updated January 24, 2018.
67 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Profile Overview, Ethanol Plant Map Layer, accessed March 13, 2018.
68 "U.S. Biodiesel Plants, Operational," Biodiesel Magazine, updated December 17, 2017.
69 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B, 1.14.B, 1.15.B.
70 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Dams overview, accessed March 9, 2018.
71 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Hydro-electric generation, accessed March 9, 2018.
72 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B, 1.11.B, 1.15.B.
73 Wisconsin Office of Energy Innovation, Wisconsin Biogas Survey Report, p. 2, accessed March 9, 2018.
74 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Form EIA-860 detailed data, 2016 Form EIA-860 Data, Schedule 3, 'Generator Data' (Operable Units Only), accessed March 9, 2018.
75 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Profile Overview, Biomass Power Plant Map Layer, accessed March 12, 2018.
76 Kassulke, Natasha, and Katherine Esposito, "Fast forestry facts," Wisconsin Natural Resources (December 2005).
77 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, Wisconsin, Table 25040, Home Heating Fuel, 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
78 "U.S. Pellet Plants, Operational," Biomass Magazine, updated May 17, 2017.
79 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B, 1.11.B, 1.14.B.
80 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, WINDExchange, Wind Energy in Wisconsin, accessed March 12, 2018.
81 U.S. EIA, Wisconsin Profile Overview, Wind Power Plant Map Layer, accessed March 12, 2018.
82 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, WINDExchange, Wisconsin Offshore 90-Meter Wind Map and Wind Resource Potential, accessed March 12, 2018.
83 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Table 1.17.B.
84 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Form EIA-860 detailed data, 2016 Form EIA-860 Data, Schedule 3, 'Generator Data' (Operable Units Only), accessed March 9, 2018.
85 Content, Thomas, "Projects by Dairyland, Xcel would double state's solar power output," The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (January 18, 2017).
86 Content, Thomas, "NextEra eyes big solar project at nuclear plant," The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (January 30, 2017).
87 Wisconsin State Legislature, 2015-16 Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, Chapter 1, Section 1.12, State energy policy (March 12, 2018).
88 Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, Renewable Energy, accessed March 13, 2018.
89 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, Wisconsin Renewable Portfolio Standard, updated November 18, 2015.
90 Content, Thomas, "Wisconsin utilities hit 10% renewable energy goal, two years early," The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (June 12, 2014).