Energy Law Wisconsin Blog

Notes from the Focus on Energy Trade Ally Expo

There has been a great deal of excitement (and controversy) in the past year over Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program. Issues receiving attention include funding levels, allocation of resources between energy efficiency versus renewables and the processing of applications. I’d like to provide a brief report from a program I attended on May 15, 2012, the first Focus on Energy Trade Ally Expo, held at Crowne Plaza Hotel Madison in Madison, Wisconsin.

The Expo focused entirely on energy efficiency incentives, other than a quick mention that new renewable incentives for residential owners will become available on July 1, 2012. Specific bits of information I jotted down that may be of interest include the following:


– Anyone who wants to be a Trade Ally must apply here even if you were previously working with Focus on Energy as a Trade Ally.

– The Focus on Energy program is in the process of creating Trade Ally working groups through which it will obtain feedback about
its programs. If you want to be part of such a group, now is the time to express interest.

– According to the Focus on Energy reps I spoke with, all investor-owned utilities, all municipal utilities, and most Wisconsin co-ops are now in the Focus on Energy program. At this point, there are only a handful of cooperatives in the northwestern corner of the state that are not participating in the program.

– Focus on Energy is offering bonuses to Trade Allies for submitting complete and accurate applications for incentives. These completion bonuses go to the trade allies, not the customers. In other words, if you complete your application accurately and fully the first time, you can get a cash bonus that is yours to keep. Until June 30, these rules governing these application bonuses will allow the applicant to correct and re-submit the application. After July 1, you must do it properly the first time around.

– Focus on Energy will have a community outreach program. Its contours are not fully defined yet, but Focus on Energy representatives will make themselves available to meet with large energy users, eligible customers (such as condominium associations) and perhaps even community groups.


Within the incentives there are several categories that are noteworthy:

Chain Stores and Franchises. This program focuses on owners of retail establishments that have five or more facilities in the State of Wisconsin. The stated Focus goal is to leverage a connection with one or two key decision makers in the business that make energy efficiency decisions for multiple facilities across the state. The eventual goal is to make Wisconsin a blueprint for the entire nation in demand-side management.

Large Energy Customers.This Focus on Energy incentive program is aimed at energy-users who have an energy demand of at least 1,000 kw of electricity per month or a demand of at least 10,000 decatherms of natural gas per month or a combined electric bill of $60,000 per month in one utility’s service territory. Note: If you have a combined utility bill of $60,000 in multiple electric utility service territories, you would not qualify, but you would be eligible for the business incentives program. Typical Large Energy Customers would be pulp and paper mills, metal casters, food processors, hospitals, universities, ethanol biofuel and biomass producers, water and wastewater facilities.

Business Incentive Program. This program serves business customers that are not served by the Large Energy Users or Chain Stores and Franchises program. It includes agricultural facilities, schools and governmental buildings, small industrial users, commercial space, and independent groceries and retailers. A typical Business Incentive Program customer would have electric demand of 100-1,000 kw
per month.

Multi-Family Energy Savings Program. This program is eligible to multi-family residence owners with four units and above. It includes apartment buildings and may include condominiums. Condominiums are included if they are interested in reducing energy demand in the common areas or if four or more users gather together to make energy-efficiency improvements. If a single condo unit owner wishes to make an improvement, that unit owner would be directed to the Residential Incentives Program.

Residential Incentives Program. There are two programs available to owners of 1-3 unit homes: Home Performance With Energy Star® and Assisted Home Performance with Energy Star®. The Assisted Home Performance with Energy Star® program offers increased awards for households with income between 60-80% of the State Median Income.


Persons who are eligible for the current categories of programs could benefit greatly. The Focus on Energy Trade Ally Expo is traveling Wisconsin in May to spread the news:

Thursday, May 17 – Rothschild

Friday, May 18 – Onalaska

Tuesday, May 22 – Brookfield

Wednesday, May 23 – Kimberly

Thursday, May 24 – Eau Claire

Also, you can find Focus on Energy at the Wisconsin Association of School Board Officials Meeting in Wisconsin Dells May 22-25 and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association Energy Fair June 15-17.

Written on May 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm, by Michael Allen