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Revenue Committee Considers Wyoming Wind Power Tax Increase

A last-minute bill to raise the tax on energy generated by wind turbines in the state will be drafted by Wyoming legislators tasked with seeking alternative revenue sources for the state. According to comments made Friday, at an upcoming meeting of the Joint Revenue Committee scheduled for Dec. 17-18, Rep. Timothy Hallinan, R-Gillette, intends to submit a bill draft. The proposed legislation would double the tax on wind production in the state. As it stands, after three years of service, Wyoming now imposes a $1 per megawatt-hour energy tax on wind installations.

State lawmakers have long debated the feasibility of boosting wind taxation. In the Joint Revenue Committee on Friday, the topic of wind energy taxation came up again as the Legislature seeks means to drum up extra revenue. Proponents of the reform of Wyoming’s wind taxes argue that the state does not charge developers enough. Also, the additional revenue would be good for the state when it is facing a multi-million shortfall. According to Director of Revenue Department Dan Noble, generation taxes from wind energy bring in about $4.2 million a year with $2.5 million of that amount routed back to counties based on the assessed value where the electricity was generated. The remaining sum goes to the general fund of the state.

The study levied tax costs across a dozen states per megawatt-hour. The analysis found that the estimated tax burden per megawatt-hour of generated electricity for Wyoming wind developers fell between $3.05 and $4.21. Many other states offer more competitive rates. In comparison, the tax burden for Colorado was $1.57 per megawatt-hour. However, some lawmakers are still skeptical that raising the tax on generation by $1 per megawatt-hour would discourage businesses from building state wind farms.

Hallinan, who serves as a representative from Gillette, said that he wondered why the people were so convinced that increasing the tax by $1 would cause them to lose all such businesses to their state. He added that he doesn’t think that there is a likelihood and wonder why very many people believe that it is. In August, Hallinan went on to say that he is in support of the growing electricity generation tax levied on the Wind developers. Members of the general public who commented during the meeting on Friday afternoon were ready to oppose the draft bill to raise the wind tax. Many have said that doing so would drive the industry out or make Wyoming too expensive for new growth. In addition, several people offering comments expressed confusion that a debate on the bill had been pushed to December. 

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