High Stakes Wind, Solar Energy Bill Blows into Senate Tomorrow

By on January 30, 2017

Jackson Hole, WY — On Tuesday morning the Wyoming Senate will consider a bill that could halt or at least financially cripple renewable energy production in the state. The “Electricity Production Standard” bill (Senate File 71) targets only large-scale wind and solar. Companies that provide renewable resources, the bill proposes, would be penalized with a $10 per megawatt fine after 2019. Electric utility companies would have one year to be 95 percent compliant with the stipulations.

Opponents list numerous reasons why the bill ought to be killed in Tuesday’s morning meeting. Some say it is anti-capitalist, and a form of protectionism for the state’s energy powerhouses, subsidizing the oil, gas, and coal industries. Others say it is counterintuitive to finding the cheapest means for producing electricity in the state, thereby giving Wyoming residents more expensive energy.

Thanks to the U.S. Constitution’s Interstate Commerce Clause, which prohibits any kind of discriminatory state legislation on commerce, opponents also say SF71 would likely be unconstitutional on its face.

And then there’s the obvious argument that it is simply an attack on renewable energy sources, climate science and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But for proponents, this is a last ditch effort to support an energy source that has sustained the state’s economy until recent years. Over the past four decades, coal production has served as Wyoming’s most stable source of tax revenues, according to a 2015 study by the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy at the University of Wyoming.

Unsurprisingly, sponsors of the bill hail from the major coal producing counties of Wyoming, such as Campbell County Rep. Scott Clem-R, who has openly denounced the effect of CO2 on climate change.

Fremont County’s Rep. David Miller-R, a co-sponsor, told InsideClimate News, “Wyoming is a great wind state and we produce a lot of wind energy. We also produce a lot of conventional energy, many times our needs. The electricity generated by coal is amongst the least expensive in the country. We want Wyoming residences to benefit from this inexpensive electrical generation.”

But even though Wyoming is the country’s leader in coal production, it also has some of the best on-shore wind resources in the US—likely no surprise to many Cowboy State residents.

Efforts to grow wind energy production, however, have been stymied and discouraged with financially prohibitive measures—Wyoming is the only state to tax wind energy production.


About Jessica Sell Chambers

You must be logged in to post a comment Login