New Federal Grant Program Can Help Keep Billions in The State’s Economy

New Federal Grant Program Can Help Keep Billions in The State’s Economy

Wisconsin residents and businesses spend over $7 Billion annually importing fossil fuels for the state’s transportation sector (Wisconsin doesn’t produce petroleum). A new Federal Program that supports Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations can help reduce fossil fuel imports and retain billions of dollars currently leaking out of the state’s economy.

The Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) program is the first round of funding from the $2.5 Billion discretionary budget for EV charging infrastructure allocated by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The CFI provides $700 million to cities, counties, local governments, and tribes to build publicly accessible EV charging infrastructure in the current fiscal year.

The CFI program offers up to 80% of the cost of building community and neighborhood charging infrastructure in urban and rural communities and charging stations along designated highways.

Eligible applicants include states, municipal planning organizations (MPOs), local governments, public authorities with transportation functions, tribal governments, authorities owned by one or more entities of government, and states or local entities with ownership of publicly accessible transportation facilities. Private entities can participate in projects if contracted with a public entity.

Eligible entities can apply here. Applications are due by May 30, 2023.

Qualified applicants may contact Francisco Sayu, Emerging Technologies Director RENEW Wisconsin at, for more information.

In addition, the Electrification Coalition provides a “suite of resources” to help communities apply for funding. And, The Joint Office of Energy and Transportation offers technical assistance to states, communities, and tribes implementing projects under the CFI Program.

Zero Carbon by 2050? New Study Outlines How Wisconsin Can Get There

Zero Carbon by 2050? New Study Outlines How Wisconsin Can Get There

This past year, a Project Team consisting of RENEW Wisconsin, Clean Wisconsin, and GridLab commissioned Evolved Energy Research and Cambridge Econometrics to provide modeling, analysis, and reporting for a Wisconsin Zero Carbon Study. The recently released Summary Report provides an excellent overview of the Study results and policy recommendations. This RENEW blog provides additional context and insight into the next steps.

The Technical Report, titled Achieving 100% Clean Energy in Wisconsin, was completed this past summer and provides a first-of-its-kind, economy-wide modeling approach to envision a Wisconsin transition to a zero-carbon future by 2050. The modeling included 1) a baseline scenario as a comparison reference, 2) a 100% Clean Electricity scenario, 3) a Net Zero Economy-wide scenario (also referred to as NZEW), and four additional sub-scenarios that envisioned the NZEW scenario with policy and economic constraints. With NZEW by 2050 as a base assumption, these sub-scenarios further explored scenarios including a) No Transmission Expansion, b) Accelerated Clean Electricity, c) Delayed Action (of electric vehicle and building electrification), and d) Limited Coal and Gas.

The modeling results show a viable zero-carbon future by 2050, but it is a future that requires collaborative planning, supporting policies, and economy-wide investments.

A Grid Evolution

Wisconsin’s current resource portfolio relies heavily on fossil fuel-generating capacity. The figure below, which provides the baseline 2022 capacity assumptions from the model, shows that about 70% of Wisconsin’s current generating capacity relies on coal or fossil gas as fuel sources.

The following pie chart is listed in Gigawatts (GW).

In order to achieve a carbon-free future, clearly existing fossil fuel-generating capacity needs to be replaced with clean energy resources. However, when contemplating the decarbonization of all sectors of the economy, there also needs to be an expansion of generating capacity to serve Wisconsin’s electricity needs by 2050 – a lot more clean energy capacity.

Modeling of the NZEW scenario estimates that when Wisconsin decarbonizes the transportation, building, and other sectors, electricity use will increase by over 160% by 2050, well over doubling Wisconsin’s demand for electricity. Electrification of these sectors is often referred to as ‘beneficial electrification’ as the transition implies moving away from fossil fuels to decarbonized electricity as a fuel source.

To be truly beneficial, the timing of electric vehicle (EV) charging will be essential for load balancing and efficient use of utility infrastructure. This way, while overall electricity usage goes up dramatically, price signals, automatic controls, and utility programs will all allow EVs to charge optimally throughout the year. Currently, it is most economical to charge EVs at night when prices are low. In the future, it may also make sense to send signals to charge during peak solar production during the summer noontime.

The figure below illustrates the capacity expansion needed on the supply side to meet electricity demand growth.

As a result of decarbonization of the grid and beneficial electrification, Wisconsin's demand for electricity in 2050 would be supplied by an estimated 31 Gigawatts (GW) of solar, 21 GW of wind, 7 GW of storage, 7 GW of clean gas, 2 GW hydrogen electrolyzer capacity, and 3 GW of dual fuel electric industrial boilers located in Wisconsin. Of the 31 GW of solar, the model assumed about 2.5 GW would come from rooftop solar based on information from a solar rooftop potential study. Utilities would need to import additional clean energy capacity from outside Wisconsin. The model estimated that imported clean energy would come from about 9.3 GW of solar and 6.3 GW of wind from out-of-state resources.

The figure below provides a snapshot of the clean generation portfolio serving Wisconsin by 2050 under the Net Zero Economy-wide modeling results.

The following pie chart is listed in Gigawatts (GW).

Utility-scale clean energy resources at this scale also require the expansion of transmission investments. For each of Wisconsin’s interties with Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois, the model estimates that 6 GW of transmission interties are needed for each of these three state interties. This equates to 18 GW of new transmission interties, which is about 3-to-4 times the amount of current Wisconsin transmission interties.

While gas capacity remains in all scenarios, gas serves as a reliability resource operating at just a 5% capacity factor and burning entirely clean, carbon-neutral fuels. In the ‘Limited Coal and Gas’ scenario, existing and less efficient gas units must remain online much longer and operate at much higher capacity factors because new, more efficient gas units are not allowed in this scenario.

In the ‘No Transmission Expansion’ scenario, in-state clean energy resources would have to expand by about 36% above the Net Zero Economy-wide scenario. In this scenario, all new generation capacity must be developed in Wisconsin, as higher capacity factor resources in other states cannot serve Wisconsin’s electricity needs. This scenario would also necessitate the expansion of ‘intrastate transmission’ within the borders of Wisconsin and add $1 billion in costs above the NZEW scenario.

Taking Emissions Down to Zero

In relation to a baseline scenario, the 100% Clean Electricity scenario will reduce total economy-wide carbon emissions by 24% by 2050. In this scenario, while the grid becomes carbon-free, transportation, building, and other sectors realize only modest decarbonization and still rely on fossil fuels to power cars, homes, and some industrial processes.

It is important to note that concentrating on the decarbonization of the electric grid by 2050 alone only gets Wisconsin to about a quarter of all reductions needed for a carbon-free future across all sectors of the economy. Additionally, in the Net Zero scenario, carbon sequestration and bunkering measures are needed to reduce emissions that come from marginal fossil gas resources. By 2050, a small segment of industries will still emit carbon, either because it is too costly to do otherwise or not technically feasible to eliminate completely. To achieve the target of zero emissions by 2050, the model chooses to rely on carbon sequestration, in which carbon is captured before being released into the atmosphere and then piped via pipeline to appropriate geologic sequestration areas in the country, safely sequestering the carbon.

A Real Benefits Plan

Following the Technical Report, Cambridge Econometrics released a report on The Economic Impacts of Decarbonization in Wisconsin. In combination with health outcomes modeled by Evolved Energy Resources, benefits of the Net Zero Economy-wide scenario include:

  • $2 to $4.4 billion in avoided healthcare costs in 2050,
  • 28 to 63 fewer deaths per million people from air pollution by 2050,
  • 3% growth in Wisconsin’s Gross State Product by 2050, adding around $16 billion to Wisconsin’s economy,
  • 68,000 additional Wisconsin jobs, and
  • Lower energy costs for Wisconsin’s residents.

The benefits of a zero-carbon future outweigh the costs of the transition per the modeling results. Focusing on energy costs alone, economy-wide investments in renewable resources, heat pumps, EVs, etc., increase by about $111.1 billion in present value. However, the benefits of avoiding fossil fuel costs are about $110.6 billion in present value. When you add the health and economic growth benefits listed above, the net-zero investment makes sense from a business case perspective.

Jenna Greene, RENEW’s Energy Policy Fellow, is currently performing a cost-benefit analysis of the modeled scenarios using the Technical Report and Economic Impacts Report results. When cost-benefit results are available, this blog will be updated.


How We Get There

The transition to a zero-carbon future won’t be easy, as infrastructure build-out, technological innovation, and market development will be needed over the next few decades. As a result, we will need to form public-private partnerships, enact and implement policies, and design cross-sector planning processes that support this transition to ensure it is cost-effective. For quick reference, below is a set of key recommendations from a figure on page 19 of the Summary Report. A complete list of policy actions is provided at the conclusion of the Summary Report.


The release of our Zero Carbon Study is just the start of a dialog on how Wisconsin can reach zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Project Team is further collaborating with partners, businesses, legislators, and state and local government officials on the next steps. For further information, please contact Andrew Kell, Policy Analyst at RENEW Wisconsin, at

Latest EVs for Good Grant Supports Training for First Responders

Latest EVs for Good Grant Supports Training for First Responders

RENEW Wisconsin awarded an EVs for Good grant of $5,000 to EVsafe to support first responder training in accidents involving electric vehicles (EV) and other electric infrastructure-related emergencies. 

EVsafe is a Wisconsin-based nonprofit supporting our nation’s first responders through specialized EV training to increase safety and efficiency when responding to emergencies. The grant will support the purchase of a salvaged vehicle for EVsafe’s “break-apart” EV training program. This vehicle will support training on disabling high voltage systems, extinguishing electrical fires, and other challenges unique to electric vehicles. 

RENEW Wisconsin’s EVs for Good grant program reduces the upfront costs of purchasing electric vehicles and EV charging infrastructure for nonprofits in Wisconsin. This grant is possible thanks to a generous donation from Carol and Andy Phelps.

Wisconsin school buses are going electric!

Wisconsin school buses are going electric!

The new fleet will ensure cleaner air and protect children’s health.

This month, the Biden-Harris Administration announced nearly $1 billion in Clean School Bus Rebate Awards for 389 school districts in the country. Wisconsin School districts will receive $25.6 million to replace 65 diesel school buses with new electric school buses. Electric buses can run on renewable energy from solar and wind farms – instead of imported diesel fuel – resulting in zero emissions and lower energy costs. The $25.6 million award represents a significant milestone for Wisconsin and puts the state on a path to cleaner, healthier, and more affordable transportation.

The new zero-emission school buses must be in service by October 2024 and will save Wisconsin School Districts more than $11 million in fuel and maintenance costs over the life of the buses. In addition to the cost savings, zero-emission buses provide the following benefits:

  • Cleaner air by eliminating school bus exhaust, which is linked to asthma.
  • Reduced health risks, especially for children whose lungs are still developing.
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change.
  • Grid resilience. Using bidirectional chargers, school buses can store energy for distribution to the grid when needed.

Zero-emission vehicles are a proven technology in the United States, where electric buses have been operating successfully in Michigan, Minnesota, and Alaska. Wisconsin’s first sixty-five electric school buses will serve fifteen rural school districts in Buffalo, Clark, Dodge, Eau Claire, Jackson, Jefferson, Marathon, Marinette, Oneida, Pepin, Sheboygan, Vilas, Waushara, and Winnebago counties. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded funds through a lottery that prioritized applications from low-income, rural, tribal, and high-needs school districts. Nearly 200 Wisconsin school districts were on the priority list.

Here is the list of school districts that will receive new electric school buses:

EPA 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates Awards for zero-emission buses – Wisconsin
School District Name Total Number of
Buses Requested
Total Rebate
Amount Awarded
Augusta School District 3 $1,185,000.00
Coleman School District 2 $790,000.00
Edgar School District 1 $395,000.00
Granton Area School District 5 $1,885,000.00
Lac du Flambeau #1 School District 10 $3,950,000.00
Lakeland UHS School District 10 $3,950,000.00
Lomira School District 4 $1,580,000.00
Melrose-Mindoro School District 1 $395,000.00
Minocqua J1 School District 12 $4,740,000.00
Mondovi School District 5 $1,975,000.00
Palmyra-Eagle Area School District 6 $2,370,000.00
Pepin Area School District 1 $395,000.00
Random Lake School District 1 $395,000.00
Wild Rose School District 2 $790,000.00
Winter School District 2 $790,000.00


The $1 billion School Bus Rebate Awards are the first round of funding from the $5 billion Clean School Bus Program of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) signed by President Biden last November. More funding opportunities for additional clean school buses will be announced in the future. Subscribe to RENEW’s Newsletter to stay updated on the Clean School Bus Program.


The Energy Future of Wisconsin is Bright: RENEW Staff Joined President Biden to Celebrate Inflation Reduction Act

The Energy Future of Wisconsin is Bright: RENEW Staff Joined President Biden to Celebrate Inflation Reduction Act

With an invitation extended by Governor Tony Evers, RENEW’s Interim Executive Director, Jessica Niekrasz, and Emerging Technology Director, Francisco Sayu, joined President Biden, his cabinet, and lawmakers at the White House on Tuesday, September 13, to celebrate the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

The celebration – including a surprise appearance by James and Kim Taylor – was a stunning reminder of our collective power to accomplish “big things” when we work together. “Today offers proof that the soul of America is vibrant, the future of America is bright, and the promise of America is real,” Biden said during his speech on the South Lawn.

RENEW applauds the Biden administration for signing the IRA – the most significant climate legislation ever passed in the U.S. The IRA includes $369 billion to help families save money on energy, improve quality of life, create stable jobs, and fight climate change by reducing carbon emissions.  

RENEW is dedicated to building a stronger, healthier, more vibrant Wisconsin through the advancement of renewable energy. The clean energy investments in the IRA will boost renewable energy and beneficial electrification in Wisconsin, limiting our dependence on imported gas and petroleum. This market transformation is needed to begin transitioning our economy away from fossil fuels that bleed our state’s economy by $14 billion yearly.

Wisconsin Families that take advantage of the clean energy incentives and electric vehicle tax credits in the IRA could save more than $1,000 per year. Here are some of the benefits available to Wisconsin residents:

  • Up to $14,000 in direct consumer rebates for families to buy heat pumps or other energy-efficient home appliances, saving families at least $350 per year.
  • 30% tax credit to install rooftop solar systems, saving families $9,000 over the system’s life or at least $300 per year.
  • Up to $7,500 in tax credits for new electric vehicles and $4,000 for used electric vehicles, helping families save $950 per year.

The clean energy investments in the IRA support the Governor’s climate goals, as outlined in Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Plan. These investments will help power homes, businesses, and communities with homegrown renewable energy, improve health outcomes, and create stable jobs for residents of Wisconsin. 

RENEW was honored to be at the White House representing the great state of Wisconsin and thanks Governor Tony Evers for this incredible opportunity.  Inclusion at this historic celebration is a testament to the incredible work the RENEW team has been doing for over thirty years. We look forward to helping our state take advantage of the opportunities offered by the IRA, and will continue to support access to clean energy for families, businesses, and communities in Wisconsin. 

Wisconsin could receive $78.65 Million for electric vehicle charging infrastructure

Wisconsin could receive $78.65 Million for electric vehicle charging infrastructure

See how the state plans to spend these funds.

The Wisconsin Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (WEVI) Plan is Wisconsin’s version of the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Plan – a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) program signed by the Biden administration last year. The NEVI program provides funding to states to strategically deploy electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to facilitate access and reliability. The programs must also support the Justice40 Initiative, which states that at least forty percent of federal investments in climate and clean energy infrastructure benefits are distributed to disadvantaged communities.

The Wisconsin Electrification Initiative (WIEV) within the Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is ready to finalize its plan, which outlines how Wisconsin will spend the $78.65 Million of available funding to build, operate and maintain Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations in the State. This funding is part of a $7.5 billion package to create a national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030.

The NEVI funding will be distributed over five years (2022 – 2026). The first round of funding will prioritize the development of EV charging stations every 50 miles along the State’s portions of the Interstate Highway System within one travel mile of the Interstate. The new charging stations must have at least four EV fast charging ports. 

The NEVI program also allocates $2.5 billion for discretionary grants to support charging stations along Alternative Fuel Corridors (AFCs) and community charging grants. The Joint Office of Energy and Transportation will provide additional guidance for discretionary grants in Fall 2022.

WisDOT has opened the Wisconsin Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Plan for public input. Wisconsin residents are encouraged to send comments and feedback using this link by July 24, 2022.

Wisconsin’s EV infrastructure plan is thorough with a smart methodology to identify potential locations for charging stations. However, RENEW would like to see more emphasis on fulfilling the goals of the Justice40 initiative.

Wisconsin has an incredible opportunity to ensure that all communities can benefit from these federal infrastructure investments. RENEW recommends that the WEVI plan allocate adequate resources for outreach to disadvantaged communities. The plan should apportion a budget to hire community outreach professionals that have access to these communities and the organizations that serve them. Building these partnerships will ensure meaningful community engagement, especially concerning BIPOC, rural, limited English proficiency, and low-income communities.

While EVs have a higher upfront cost than internal combustion vehicles, owners can save a lot on fuel and maintenance costs. Still, it can be easy to discount the benefits or impact of EV charging infrastructure for non-EV owners in disadvantaged communities. However, with car manufacturers committing to electric transportation, including GM pledging to be all-electric by 2035 and Ford by 2030, EV charging infrastructure will soon be vital in all reaches of the state. Bringing a complete representation of voices to the table during the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the WEVI plan will ensure equitable participation and access to the benefits of EV infrastructure.

An investment in EV infrastructure is an investment in Wisconsin’s future, and we encourage everyone to engage in this planning process by sending comments and feedback to WisDOT.