Wyoming Might Be The First State To Tax Wind Energy

Dan Conant

Quite contrary to nation wide trends of states supporting alternative energy growth and competition for development, Wyoming might become the first state in the nation to tax wind energy.  Supporters of this tax reference that the energy resource rich state (natural gas, coal, and uranium) already has taxes in all other areas of energy and that wind power should not be any different special.  If this bill passes, it will be interesting to see if other states follow suit, and how this might affect wind power growth nation wide. 

Like many states in these economic times, Wyoming is looking to find more income to battle deficits and to avoid debt.  Nationwide, many states are broadening their tax bases while re-budgeting for this upcoming year.  However, alternative energy sources are usually not pursued by states while imposing new taxes.  Because alternative energy is such a booming industry right now states often offer incentives to attract alternative energy investors because of the money, cleanliness, and other benefits associated with ‘green’ energy. 

The proposed tax would be 3$ per megawatt hour excise tax on commercial wind energy generation, which comes out to be about a five percent tax on the wind energy generated.  It is estimated that this tax would generate about 11.5 million dollars per year in income for the state and the counties that the wind turbines/farms would be in.  This bill is very important for Wyoming because it has the 12th highest potential for wind power generation in the nation.  Even some supporters of this bill are wary of how it should end up, because they understand that wind development could become non-existent in Wyoming if the state becomes too greedy with its proposed tax.  This is because wind turbines are very expensive, at roughly two million dollars a piece, the cost of creating a wind farm is pricey.  Because of the initial high start-up cost as well as the sales tax and property tax for the turbines and the land they would be located on, developers and investors could very easily be scared away from Wyoming as a whole.  This bill is certainly being watched carefully by various groups and organizations across the country, because the passing of a bill like this could produce big changes nationwide for alternative energy developments.

Information for this posting was gathered from this news article.

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conantd

Dan is a junior environmental studies major and is currently an intern for Dickinson's Center for Sustainability Education.

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