CHEYENNE – Lawmakers defeated a bill Monday that would have quintupled the state’s wind production tax.
Wyoming is the only state with a wind production tax – currently $1 per megawatt hour of electricity.
House File 127 would have increased it to $5 per megawatt hour. But the House Revenue Committee defeated the measure, 7 to 2.
Rep. Mike Madden, a Buffalo Republican who was one of the bill’s sponsors, said the measure would have equalized taxes paid by fossil fuels and wind.
The coal, oil and gas industry must pay taxes on production. Wind pays some taxes, but not enough, he said.
Critics say that the taxes on fossil fuels are needed because once they’re removed from the ground, they’re gone for millions of years. Wind is renewable. But Madden isn’t convinced by that argument.
He said turbines alter the state’s landscape.
“There’s an equal number of people who think wind mills have a deleterious effect of the open space, ambiance of the state of Wyoming,” he said.
The bill’s defeat is good news for the Power Company of Wyoming, which is developing in Carbon County the largest wind project in the United States.
The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project will have 1,000 turbines with a capacity to produce 3,000 megawatts of electricity. All federal permitting has been complete, and the company has started construction for roads in the area of the turbines.
The company argues it will pay $800 million in property, sales and wind production taxes over the next 20 years. HB127 would have increased the company’s tax burden to around $1.8 billion, said Roxane Perruso, the company’s vice president.
“It absolutely would have impacted our ability to compete with projects in other states,” she said. “Any increase in the tax affects our ability to be competitive. We are always at a disadvantage in Wyoming with the $1 per megawatt hour. No other state has a tax on generating wind.”
HB127 is one of several bills sponsored by lawmakers to protect fossil fuels.
Senate File 71 would charge utility companies $10 per megawatt hour on electricity generated in the state for use by Wyoming customers. That bill is awaiting its first discussion in a committee.
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