Library filed under Taxes & Subsidies from Wyoming
CHEYENNE – If lawmakers in Wyoming are to consider a wind energy tax increase in 2018, it won’t come from the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee.
The wind industry breathed a sigh of relief Thursday night when the U.S. Senate’s proposed overhaul of the tax system avoided cutting into a subsidy relished by wind developers and utilities. But at the same time, a handful of lawmakers in Wyoming are showing a renewed interest in increasing taxes on wind.
Early construction is ongoing at the site near Rawlins, and needs to continue without pause if the company is to qualify for the federal subsidy. If it qualifies for the tax credit, it would last for up to 10 years, she said. Firms that began construction by last year keep the subsidy for a decade. The Power Company of Wyoming is not confident that the second phase of development, for an additional 500 turbines, will qualify for the tax credit.
CHEYENNE - Wyoming could be at a crossroads when it comes to a potential boom of wind energy projects in the state.
The long-term need for greener electricity and our timeless winds are why our great-grandchildren may never experience many of our beautiful Wyoming vistas as the indigenous peoples and pioneers did and the way we do now. More likely, they will see an industrialized landscape — one scarred by thousands of bird-smashing turbines, high-tension lines and innumerable utility roads. Where we see the joyous freedom of open space, they will have to peer through a fragmented, tattooed landscape.
Oklahoma wind developers are fresh off a record-setting year. Only Texas installed more wind capacity in 2016, a fact that thrusts the Sooner State's power markets into a sudden transition and is agitating opponents along the way.
County Planning Director Sid Fox said a zoning permit is usually required to start construction on a wind farm, but said due to the fact the two were simply requesting to dig holes to beat the colder weather and to meet the requirement for the production tax credit, they did not need the permit.
Lawmakers spurned a bill to increase taxes on wind energy Thursday, after hearing five hours of testimony from the industry’s developers, utilities, local government officials and ranchers opposed to the proposal.
“The benefits of wind are disproportionately on the West Coast, and the costs of wind are disproportionately in Wyoming — and I mean the social costs,” said Cale Case, a state senator and economist who serves on the Legislature’s revenue committee. “This tiny reflection of the impacts back here, I think it’s just kind of a fair trade.”
The company behind the largest proposed wind farm in the country, in Carbon County, says that uncertainty around Wyoming's wind tax policy is making it more difficult to invest in wind.
Wyoming lawmakers are calling such statements a bluff. The Cowboy State’s bountiful breeze means developers will continue to flock to its vast expanses of wind-blown prairie, regardless of the tax, they say. What’s more, they argue, Congress extended the $23-per-megawatt-hour tax credit for wind producers last year. They contend Power Company of Wyoming can spare some of those proceeds.
Some legislators were unmoved by the pleas made by Miller and other wind proponents to the committee. “If it kills a project, it kills a project,” Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, said. “If wind doesn’t provide some form of significant benefit to the state of Wyoming, I don’t care if it’s here.”
A group of lawmakers, accusing wind farms of “seeking to shut down” the coal industry, drummed up proposals Wednesday to increase taxes on the renewable energy source to raise money for education. ...Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, disagreed, arguing that wind turbines destroyed viewsheds for up to 200 years, a much longer time than mines and drilling rigs. “With wind, that viewshed is lost forever,” he said. “It is severed.”
Representative Michael Madden is co-chair of the Revenue Committee. He says wind should pay a similar tax rate as coal and gas, even though it is a renewable resource. “I can’t see any fundamental reason to treat one different from another," he said.
More than $4.4 million was generated from taxes on wind production across Wyoming in the last fiscal year, according to the state Department of Revenue.
The largest proposed onshore wind project in the United States does not need a recently expired federal tax credit to be commercially viable, the head of the company planning to build 1,000 turbines in Carbon County said last week. ...Electricity generated by the nearly $5 billion facility would be cheaper for utilities and consumers alike if Congress were to renew the credit.
Earlier in 2013, Wyoming Wind & Power LLC (WW&P) submitted an application to the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council seeking approval to construct and operate a 900 megawatt (300 turbine) facility in Platte, Goshen, Converse and Laramie counties. WW&P has canceled the project citing various reasons. A portion of the letter submitted to the Siting Council is provided below. The full letter can be accessed by clicking on the link(s) at the bottom of this page.
The $1-per-megawatt-hour tax, signed into law in 2010, raised about $1.6 million for six counties in the central and southeast part of the state in its first year of implementation. Converse County received about $600,000 of that total. An additional $1 million went into state coffers.
The new agreement, among other things, means the project will pay $820,000 less in taxes to districts in Converse County. The county's treasurer, Joel Schell, said that the county proper can bounce back from its share of the loss - about $125,000 - but other tax districts will have a harder time.
You know when the president talks about making wanting to make renewable energy the cheapest form of energy, he's not doing it by actually lowering the cost of renewable energy. He's doing it by raising the cost, through the EPA and other regulations, on some of the more affordable forms of energy.