Wind tax passes Legislature Posted by: Jeremy on February 26, 2010 at 2:21PM EST The Wyoming Legislature on Friday passed the nation's first tax on electricity generated by wind power.
The state Senate overwhelmingly approved House Bill 101, which would impose a $1-per-megawatt-hour tax on wind energy.
The bill now goes to Gov. Dave Freudenthal's desk for his signature. Freudenthal spokesman Jonathan Green said the governor will likely sign the bill into law next Wednesday or Thursday, pending final clearance by the state Attorney General's office.
The legislation, which came out of a proposal made by Freudenthal earlier this month, passed the Senate 29-1. State Sen. Kit Jennings, R-Casper, was the lone "no" vote.
Under the legislation, the tax wouldn't take effect until 2012; in addition, wind turbines wouldn't be taxed until their third year of operation. The money would be split 60-40 between local governments and the state, respectively.
The tax is intended right now to be more of a principled statement than a sizable source of revenue. If a $1-per-megawatt-hour tax existed last year, wind energy companies would have paid only about $4.9 million in Wyoming.
However, with several multi-million-dollar wind farm projects on the drawing board throughout the state, some see the burgeoning wind industry as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to expand and diversify Wyoming's economy -- and, at the same time, the state's tax base.
Though the legislation easily passed both the state House and state Senate by large margins, many legislators, companies, and interest groups still have numerous problems with a wind tax.
But wind tax opponents have largely pulled their punches as the bill sailed through the Legislature, as the legislation is largely seen as a placeholder bill that's meant mainly to get policymakers thinking about the idea.
Instead, all sides on the wind tax issue are looking towards after the legislative session ends, when a legislative committee will start to work on crafting the state's long-term wind energy policies