The wind power industry and environmentalists are lobbying to block Wyoming plans to tax a project meant to provide electricity to California.
Wyoming will tax 1,000 wind turbines slated to be built in the state, which environmentalists claim would make the project uneconomical. State legislators say they’ve been lobbied not to impose the tax.
“The members of the Revenue Committee have been subjected to the most concentrated lobbying effort against the tax on wind energy I’ve witnessed in my career as a legislator,” Wyoming Republican state Sen. Cale Case, an economist who serves on the state legislature’s taxation committee, wrote in WyoFile. “The list of people working for the wind interests reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of Wyoming influence: some of the biggest names and largest Cheyenne law firms, well-known economic experts and former Wyoming state bureaucrats.”
The proposed Wyoming wind project wouldn’t generate a single watt of power in the state. Instead, the power would be diverted through a new 750-mile transmission line to California and used to fight global warming.
Construction on the project’s 1,000 wind turbines is scheduled to start later this year, but when fully developed, the project will create fewer than 150 jobs in Wyoming state — a poor prize for hosting the massive. The oil and gas downturn cost Wyoming 5,400 jobs in 2015 alone.
The Renewable Energy Association of Landowners and other environmental groups claim the proposed tax increase could kill one of the world’s largest planned wind farms, worth $8 billion. Any taxes from the state at all would put the project out of business, representatives of the Power Company of Wyoming building the project told The Los Angles Times in August
Wyoming collected about $15 million from current taxes from existing wind turbines since 2012, which is small compared to the estimated $625 million in taxes collected from the oil and natural gas industry the state collected in 2015 alone.
The wind industry received a total of $176 billion-worth of subsidies since 2000, according to information from Subsidy Tracker. Of this money, roughly $2.9 billion came from local and state governments; $9.4 billion came from federal subsidies and tax credits; and, $163.9 billion was provided by government loans or loan guarantees. Almost all wind projects need to take advantage of federal and state tax incentives to remain financially competitive.
Around the world, the rate of growth for wind power is continuing to slow, according to a 2015 report by the International Energy Agency. The wind industry is growing at it slowest rate in years due to changes in the structure of subsidies, issues with reliability, and consistently high prices.
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