Experts from around the country gathered Monday to discuss Wyoming’s wind energy future. The free conference was organized by the Ruckelshaus Institute and the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy. Wind is widely considered a growing industry with consistently decreasing price sand Wyoming is considered to have one of the best wind resources in the country with high potential for growth.
Some of the sessions touched on how the western energy grid is changing and what flaws there still are in the industry. For instance, Wyoming’s Department of Revenue Director Dan Noble said there’s been discussion in his department about the benefits of increasing wind taxes given the state’s economic condition. While that may be important for the state, Noble said he’s not sure how that could affect the health of the industry.
“To what extent, that is up to anyone to decide at this point.” Noble said. "I think there’s been a lot of study done for it and what it would look like for the state. I think it’s only safe to say tax will play a role in this.”
In another session, developers said wind will ideally continue to create long-term jobs and provide incentives for young people to stick around. They said Wyoming does have one of the best wind resources in the country but could lose its edge if it doesn’t step up to the plate.
A representative from EDP Renewables said filing permits in the state is inefficient. Others were concerned about the lack of transmission lines in the state. That’s how wind-generated electricity can get from Wyoming to the West Coast. Intermountain Wind’s Paul Martin said there just isn't enough transmission capacity.
“Now, we already have the generation... there are so many developers that want to build now, it’s unbelievable. We’ll fill up these transmission lines very quickly, but then we run out."
Martin added the state should create a task-force help build capacity. Wyoming is looking forward to the planned Gateway West transmission lines expected to be finished by 2020. The event continues today.