CASPER, Wyo. – Wyoming lawmakers are considering implementing a tax increase for wind power generation and removing the three-year tax exemption for new wind turbine projects.
House Bill 108 would increase the tax on wind generated electricity by $ 1 per megawatt hour starting July 1st. The proposed tax hike would cost the state around $ 6.5 million in fiscal 2022. $ 14.6 million in FY 2023 and again in FY 2024, according to the Legislative Service Office (LSO).
The US Wind Turbine Database provides an interactive map with locations and details of projects across the country. This screenshot shows wind energy projects in Wyoming. (USGS)
The LSO said its estimates are based on current wind capacity in the state, as well as expected new wind capacity, “from projects approved by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality Industrial Sites Division.”
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According to the US Department of Energy, Wyoming has an installed wind energy capacity of around 1,816 megawatts (MW). Another 3,753 MW are under construction. Wind makes up approximately 9.94% of the Wyoming power grid mix:
Powering Up Wyoming, which advocates a diverse mix of energy sources in the state, states that over $ 3.4 billion had been invested in wind and solar as of 2019 and that currently planned wind projects are another $ 10 billion in the US – State would invest state.
The legislature has discussed an increase in the tax on wind energy several times in recent years. For the 2021 General Assembly, House Bill 108 is not the only proposed piece of legislation that would affect wind energy.
House Bill 28 also proposes removing the three-year tax exemption for new wind turbine projects, but does not consider increasing the tax on wind-generated electricity.
The Legislative Service Office (LSO) estimates that the waiver of tax exemptions will generate approximately $ 320,000 in revenue for the state general fund and an additional $ 480,000 for distribution to counties in FY 2023 and again in FY 2024 would.
Powering Up Wyoming says the repeated debate over changing the tax structure for wind energy in Wyoming is of concern to those interested in encouraging the development of the industry in the state.
“Studies from the University of Wyoming have shown that there is strong competition from other states with similar wind resources that are cheaper to operate for wind developers,” said Powering Up Wyoming. “And Wyoming’s unstable tax structure for the wind industry doesn’t always inspire confidence.”
Wind isn’t the only renewable energy source where new taxes could emerge from the 2021 legislature session. House Bill 94 would impose an excise tax on solar energy of $ 1 per megawatt hour of electricity generated.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Wyoming has more than 2,700 solar systems that can generate approximately 138.19 megawatts of energy, which is enough to power around 22,000 homes.
By the third quarter of 2020, Wyoming had invested approximately $ 147 million in solar energy projects. Wyoming is expected to install an additional 178 megawatts over the next five years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, which has fallen 45% in the past five years.
Legislature will resume its 2021 General Assembly in person on March 1 at the Wyoming Capitol in Cheyenne.