Wyoming lawmakers look again at higher wind energy tax

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers are again talking about raising the state’s tax on wind power and other renewable energy.

Several previous attempts to raise the $1 per megawatt hour wind generation tax enacted in 2012 have been unsuccessful. A higher tax would raise electricity costs and deter investment in renewable energy, opponents have said.

The Joint Revenue Committee talked to Montana lawmakers Monday about their state’s electricity taxes and took public comment on the issue, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

“I’m not anti-wind or solar in this. I just think we need a fair deal,” said Sen. Cale Case, a Republican from Lander who has long supported higher taxes on wind power.

Wyoming is struggling with sharply reduced revenue amid a downturn in coal, oil and natural gas production, three industries that largely support the state’s economy.

New Mexico, Montana and Colorado, followed by Wyoming, have the lowest costs for wind power development among Western states.

Raising Wyoming’s wind energy tax to $4 per megawatt hour would bring in an additional $1.9 billion, assuming that such a increase wouldn’t impede wind power development, according to the University of Wyoming’s Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy.