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.
With many countries setting goals for reductions in fossil fuel consumption after the recent Copenhagen climate conferences; countries are trying to even produce 25% of their energy from clean or renewable sources. But what about 100%? For most 100% seems ludicrous; but on an island in Denmark it is very feasible and has been proven to be possible. Located right off the North Sea, the wind never stops howling across this island, and the islanders are willing to everything on the line to be provided with clean power. Also, the islanders are very motivated as they have large stakes and own many shares in the turbines.
Samso island is home to roughly four-thousand people who are excited to move forward with their wind turbine expansion. One main reason for the islanders willingness to put up these turbines is that typically people living on islands pay from two to four times as much for electricity compared to people on the mainland. Although the turbines do make some noise as their blades whiz through the air and they take away from the serene look on the island; free power is more than enough to convince them to keep pushing forth with turbine expansion. Not to mention that once the turbine building is complete, the people of Samso will have the potential to sell electricity back to the grid, helping them pay back their investments sooner and eventually making a profit.
Many in the environmental fields are pushing Samso island as an example of how populations can be freed from fossil fuels and almost eliminate their carbon footprint, but there are still many skeptics. Samso island is lucky enough to have a great location to be able to utilize the abundant winds off the north sea, and has plenty of space to erect turbines. In comparison, Samso island is significantly larger than Manhattan, NY. Additionally, the funding for such projects is very costly, but due to an enthusiastic local population the turbine expansion is becoming possible. Furthermore Samso may not be able to be comparable to major cities due to population density and other factors, but it is an important representation of how a green-motivated economy can be successful in achieving its goals for renewable energy.