photo via world-ctl
When I lived in Wyoming, I was continually impressed with its Governor, Dave Freudenthal. The former US attorney spoke with a plain tongue, advocated for pragmatic solutions, and managed to get elected in a very conservative state as a Democrat. I thought he was a model for other Democrats looking to break into traditionally conservative places. I still admire Gov. Dave, but lately he's been making some weird decisions on climate and energy. Last week in San Francisco he said that wind energy producers should be taxed at the same rate as dirty fuel producers, a policy that is sure to stunt the growth of the wind power industry in the Cowboy State.From EE News:
"Wind guys make the argument that 'We're so special, we don't need to be taxed,' but we need to be more practical and honest," he said. "If it's an energy source for which there is so much demand, they can bear the same burden as the rest of us. They get so much support from the federal government, I don't know that the taxpayers of Wyoming need to subsidize them."
"If they can't contribute to schools, roads, etc., it's not an industry that I want," he added. "We're talking about 3 to 4 percent, not some huge tax." Wind power producers currently pay property tax and sales tax; their sales tax exemption ended at the beginning of this month. Oil, natural gas and coal pay 4 percent in severance taxes, and counties and municipalities can choose to add up to 2 percent more.
Freudenthal is working on a bill that would tax wind production and will submit it through the state Legislature by Feb. 12, spokesman Jonathan Green said.
Wyoming added 170 megawatts of wind power in the third quarter of last year, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Federal studies show that Wyoming has some of the best-quality wind in the country, a reality I can attest to. While living there, there were times the wind was blowing so hard I couldn't take the garbage out. Wyoming's potential for wind energy is 235,000 gigawatt-hours per year.
Bu taxing wind energy is a sure-fire recipe for stunting its growth. Coal and oil still get massive federal subsidies, while those for renewables are dwarfed in comparison. To create wind farms, huge capitol investment is required, and because of the threat of climate change government should be encouraging wind production not taxing it.
Freudenthal also has made news recently by pushing for more carbon capture and sequestration funding for his state and for advocating for a CCS project in the Western half of the state, just south of the Tetons.