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Report: Wind Tax Alteration Could Reduce Tax Burden, Add Revenue

Taxes Paid ($/MWh) by State After Incentives - Wyoming's tax is still $1, not $5
University of Wyoming
Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy

Wyoming is not the best state in the U.S. to develop wind. A new report out of the University of Wyoming shows the state is actually in fourth place nationwide. Authors of the report said even that position is vulnerable since Wyoming legislators have been pushing for increases to the wind tax.

Three bills this past legislative session looked at wind tax increases, which energy economist and report author Rob Godby said dramatically reduces Wyoming's competitiveness in attracting new development.

"We think that you know a developer looking at that kind of change in cost would make a significant difference about their willingness to develop in Wyoming versus Montana, Colorado or New Mexico where they have pretty much an equivalent wind resource," he said.

Godby said Wyoming could stay competitive by changing the type of tax it imposes on wind; one that focuses on the value of electricity rather than the amount produced. That's called a gross receipts tax.

"That would reduce their interest costs throughout the project. And the second thing is you actually increase the amount of taxes that you collect because you would collect that gross revenue tax over the life of the project," Godby said.

Legislators have said it's important for the state to get something back from wind development; it's characterized as a type of severance tax.

The report found New Mexico is the lowest-cost state to develop wind. That's followed by Montana, Colorado, then Wyoming.

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
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