Wyoming Considers De Facto Prohibition On Solar And Wind Energy

Source: By William Pentland, Forbes • Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2017

If the bill is passed, utilities in Wyoming would incur a penalty of $10 per megawatt hour whenever they used wind or solar to produce electricity for state customers.

“I don’t know how seriously to take it,” Rep. Marti Halverson, R-Etna, told the Jackson Hold News & Guide. “My guess is that it’s a little push back to the legislation that is being passed in other states that’s saying, ‘No coal, no how.’”

The proposed legislation is arguably the most benighted of the half-baked proposals to promote coal energy floated to date in coal-friendly states.

“Coal production has been a cornerstone of the modern Wyoming economy since the 1970’s, and has served as Wyoming’s most stable source of tax revenues over the past four decades,” according to a 2015 study by the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

The study, “The Impact of the Coal Economy on Wyoming,” states that in 2012 coal production alone accounted for 11.3% of gross state product, 4.7% of total labor income and 1.8% of in total state employment. Direct taxation on coal production in 2012 accounted for $1.3 billion in total state and local government revenues.

Roughly 92% of domestic coal consumption is used to produce electricity. The demand for electricity is a thus a critical factor affecting Wyoming’s coal economy. From 2007 to 2013, net electricity generation from coal declined by 430 million megawatt hours (MWh). Over the same period, net electricity generation from natural gas increased by 216 million MWh, while wind and solar net generation increased by 148 million MWh.

Wyoming is the only state in the nation that taxes wind energy production. Not surprisingly, last summer, developers suspended plans to construct what would have been the nation’s largest wind farm in Carbon County, WY due to concerns that Wyoming might increase the wind tax.

Their concerns appear to have been well founded.