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Bill that would have punished utilities for using wind or solar killed in Wyoming

CHEYENNE – A group of lawmakers killed a bill Tuesday that would have penalized utilities for providing Wyoming customers with electricity from wind or solar energy.

Senate File 71 stated six energy resources could create electricity without being fined, including natural gas, coal and hydropower.

Utilities that used wind or solar would have had to pay $10 per megawatt hour to the state.

The bill’s sponsors said it was a challenge to renewable energy standards, such as one in California that has a goal of using 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.

But the bill fell flat in the Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee on Tuesday, where no lawmakers made a motion to advance the bill to the Senate floor, committee chairman Sen. Cale Case said.

Many people offered testimony to the committee about SF71, said Case, a Republican from Lander.

“Honestly, almost everybody was against it,” he said. “The utilities sort of thought it had merits but it wasn’t ready. They weren’t totally supportive.”

People who testified at the meeting didn’t believe the bill was workable and difficult to implement and regulate, said Shannon Anderson, an attorney with the Sheridan-based Powder River Basin Resource Council, a landowner group that opposed SF71.

“Citizens from across the state discussed their support of renewable energy,” she said.

Case, the committee chairman, said he will suggest to legislative leaders that the committee study the issue of energy mandates in the interim period between the 2017 and 2018 sessions.

“It fits because we did electricity in the last interim,” he said. “It’s complicated, and we’re developing the committee expertise, and we have a lot of new members.”

Rep. Tyler Lindholm, a Sundance Republican who was one of the sponsors of SF71, said the bill generated good discussion.

“Maybe some people are doing some introspection now that energy mandates are silly,” he said.