Resource Council Watching Bill That Would Constrain Renewables In Wyoming

Jan 20, 2017

Wyoming lawmakers have introduced a bill that would bar utilities from using solar or wind power to generate electricity, but since the open of the legislative session the measure hasn’t made it to committee.

The proposed measure draws a line around “eligible resources”: coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear, and hydropower, and asks electricity providers to use those industries to meet 95 percent of demand by 2018. By 2019, they’ll be expected to phase out wind and solar, purchase energy credits, or pay a fee.

Senators Larry Hicks and Ogden Driskill, and Representatives Mark Baker, Jim Blackburn, Scott Clem, Roy Edwards, Tyler Lindholm, Michael Madden, and David Miller are sponsoring the bill.

Powder River Basin Resource Council Organizer Shannon Anderson said she doesn’t think the bill will get very far, but it could send the wrong message in a time when renewables are becoming more and more affordable.

“Right now we think the bill is mainly what we call talking point legislation,” Anderson said. “It’s so unworkable that it’s unlikely to go anywhere, but it already has had an impact by being filed, and people are paying attention and want to know what the mood is here in the state in terms of whether or not we’re going to welcome this new type of development.”

Anderson said that message does not represent the people in the state who are open to wind and solar energy, and comes at a time when the costs of these alternative power sources are falling.

“Unfortunately the legislature just doesn’t seem to have a real appetite to have a good conversation about diversifying our energy mix, which is understandable given they’re very concerned about revenue,” Anderson said. “But at the same time, our legislature is really bucking a national trend that is embracing renewable energy.”

Anderson says the policy could be a problem for consumers and utility companies. Neither Rocky Mountain Power nor Black Hills Energy have commented on the bill.