In what’s being called a reverse renewable portfolio standard, a group of state lawmakers in Wyoming have kicked off the 2017 legislative session with a decidedly draconian, anti-renewable energy stance. They’re going as far as penalizing utilities for installing wind and solar projects.
Nine lawmakers introduced Wyoming Bill SF 71, which would charge utilities $10 per megawatt hour for getting electricity from wind and solar power projects in Wyoming. The legislation requires 95 percent of the state’s energy from coal, hydroelectric, natural gas, nuclear, oil or a net-metered system in compliance year 2018 and 100 percent of its energy from such sources in 2019.
“It's an unprecedented attack on clean energy in Wyoming, and possibly the nation,” wrote Inside Climate News’ Zahra Hirji. “And it comes at a time when such resources are becoming cheaper and increasingly in demand as the world seeks to transition to clean energy to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.”
Wyoming, which currently gets nearly 90 percent of its electricity from coal, according to recent Energy Information Administration (EIA) data. This legislation, if passed, would represent a tax on renewable energy and other energy sources the utilities could use. It would make wind and solar more expensive in the state even as new research is showing that such energy sources could save utility customers billions annually across the west.
The legislation is seemingly in advance of the growth of lower-cost renewable energy sources. The state has a rich wind resource and plenty of open land, ideal for wind or solar power. It’s installed wind farms, which largely provide renewable energy to neighboring states. The amount of solar installed in Wyoming is minimal. It only had about 1.5 megawatts of solar power installed by April 2016, ranking it 46th among US states for total solar power installed.
"I haven't seen anything like this before," Shannon Anderson of local advocacy organization, Powder River Basin Resource Council, told Hirji. "This is essentially a reverse renewable energy standard.”
One of the state lawmakers involved in SF 71, Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, and five other lawmakers also issued an anti-renewable joint resolution. That resolution urges the US Congress to pass legislation to grant states 50 percent of any rent for right-of-way fees for wind and solar power projects on federal land.
While the legislation has yet to pass and the resolution hasn’t been adopted at the federal level both show how anti-renewable energy forces could marshal their efforts attacking the progress against lower-cost renewable energy. There are fears that the incoming administration could also adopt anti-solar and anti-wind stances. But as these attacks show, such actions are now more focussed on imposing irrational fees rather than ending incentives.Tweet