Articles filed under Energy Policy from Wyoming
The wind energy sector in the U.S. shattered records in 2020, recording its biggest year yet in terms of new capacity added to the grid.
Wyoming lawmakers rejected a pair of bills Thursday aiming to raise revenues through the state’s energy industries, one of which would establish an excise tax on electricity production in the state and another that would increase the tax burden for the wind energy industry.
MEDICINE BOW — Only one multi-story building exists in this tiny town of under 300. The Virginian Hotel rises up 3 1/2 stories and sits in the heart of the town.
Wyoming’s largest electrical provider, PacifiCorp, wants to speed up its shift from coal-fired power to renewable energy. But its plan for achieving that vision lacks proper analysis, transparency and modeling, and doesn’t adequately consider other alternatives, such as nuclear power or adding carbon capture to coal plants.
Sponsored by the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senate File 125 would have required energy utilities to provide 95 percent of their electricity from a restricted list of energy sources by 2021 and 100 percent by 2022. The list included coal, oil and natural gas — the state’s primary economic engines — but notably omitted utility-scale wind and solar power. Under the bill, if a utility had chosen to invest in renewable energy sources, the state could have penalized the company with a fine for each megawatt of energy not produced from the sources deemed acceptable.
Locals questioned the reliability of renewable power, arguing it is propped up by subsidies and too untested to shoulder the demands of the electrical grid. Repeatedly, speakers portrayed a dark vision of a future where solar panels and wind turbines crowd Wyoming’s vistas and degrade its wildlife and where electricity prices rise even as rolling blackouts disrupt western cities.
On a vast swath of prairie lined with 79 wind turbines, new blades are delivered on the backs of 18-wheelers. Laine Anderson navigates the snow-packed service roads. He oversees wind operations at Rocky Mountain Power, an operating entity of Pacificorp. Anderson parks under a massive turbine.
On Tuesday, the Joint Corporations Committee will discuss reducing the contract period to three years and add language to current statutes ensuring that utilities don’t overpay for the power they are required to buy. Their ultimate goal, they say, is to make sure rate payers in Wyoming are getting the best deal.
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.
Bottom line, staff and the ratepayer groups contend that PGE simply doesn't need another wind farm right now, particularly in the Gorge. Wind farms produce lots of energy, but they are inherently unpredictable, meaning they can't be relied on to fill the capacity ...During the region's recent heat wave. wind farms in the Gorge were often producing little to no electricity.
SALT LAKE CITY — Rocky Mountain Power unveiled a 20-year plan today to provide electricity to its customers that includes adding more solar and wind and making existing wind turbines more efficient. The $3.5 billion plan also incorporates building a segment of the Gateway West transmission line to facilitate the wind expansion.
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.
Under the bill, if electricity were generated by wind or solar in Wyoming to serve customers in the state it would come with a $10-per-megawatt-hour penalty. That penalty would be double the suggested tax hike on wind also under consideration this legislative session.
Rocky Mountain Power is seeking to reduce from 20 years to 3, the length of contracts it is required to offer mid-sized producers, under a regulation that has recently been used to promote wind and solar power development. ...Rocky Mountain Power contends the 20-year term is hurting consumers because it is unable to take advantage of the rapidly declining cost of wind power, particularly, as well as other sources.
Alan Minier, the chairman of the Wyoming Public Service Commission, in a Nov. 21 letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, wrote that the federal proposal overestimates utilities' ability to improve the efficiency of their coal-fired power plants, overstates the potential growth of renewable power and errs in its calculations concerning Wyoming's natural gas generation. ...The agency assumes the state could install 9.4 million megawatt hours of low-carbon or no-carbon electricity generation by 2030.
The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday denied a petition by the Northern Laramie Range Alliance that would have effectively killed a pair of adjacent wind farms on ridges in the Mormon Canyon area, proposed by Wasatch Wind of Park City, Utah.
The Legislature's Joint Revenue Interim Committee in October shot down Mead's proposal to continue the tax exemption for wind energy projects while imposing a 2 percent impact fee on wind projects to support county governments. Despite that setback, Mead said he's not giving up on addressing the wind taxation issue.
Wyoming is an ideal place to generate electricity from wind. But getting current from turbines to customers is a political and economic puzzle. How it plays out will have lessons for renewable-energy projects nationwide.
A proposed two-year extension of Wyoming's moratorium on wind developers' eminent domain powers passed another legislative hurdle Wednesday. By a voice vote, state senators passed House Bill 230 on first reading. If left unchanged, the legislation must pass two more Senate votes before heading to Gov. Matt Mead for his signature.
State Rep. Kermit Brown, the Laramie Republican sponsoring the bill, said allowing the current one-year moratorium to expire on July 1 would raise landowners' wariness of eminent domain when dealing with wind developers on land leases to build collector lines. Brown said landowners want more time to develop a plan for legislators' consideration.