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Legislators Draft Bills To Raise Tax On Wind Energy

Leigh Paterson
Inside Energy

A Wyoming legislative committee is moving forward with proposals to increase the tax on wind energy. Wyoming is currently the only state that taxes wind energy production. The Revenue Committee decided at its meeting on Wednesday to draft two possible bills. One would raise the production tax on wind beyond the current one dollar per megawatt hour. The other would force wind companies to hand over some part of the federal wind energy production tax credit to the state.

Before the meeting, wind companies warned that increasing taxes could push business out of the state, but committee members were unconcerned about that possibility. 

“If wind doesn’t provide some form of significant benefit to the state of Wyoming, I don’t care if it’s here,” said Senator Ogden Driskill, adding that if wind farms in the state are "providing energy to Oregon, Washington and California consumers at the cost of having wind mills on every ridge in Wyoming, I’d just as soon not have the wind.”

Wind producers paid $3.8 million in production taxes to the state and counties in 2015. The Power Company of Wyoming, which has proposed building the largest onshore wind farm in North America in Carbon County, says it expects to pay more than $800 million in Wyoming taxes over the life of that project, if it is built.

The Revenue Committee also discussed other potential ways of generating revenue for the state, including increasing sales taxes or property taxes, and investment opportunities, but only agreed to move forward with the wind tax bills at the meeting. The committee will continue discussing the wind legislation this summer.

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