As part of a plan to better incorporate wind energy, Gov. Dave Freudenthal, D-Wyo., has unveiled four key initiatives that he plans to send to the state legislature, including an excise tax on wind energy of $3/MWh.
Freudenthal is also asking lawmakers to suspend for a year the powers of condemnation that wind developers have when building transmission lines. That would give lawmakers time to study options for strengthening private property owners' positions when negotiating for transmission line access.
According to Freudenthal, wind energy can generate income for the agricultural community, help diversify the economy and tax base, and perhaps develop a significant number of jobs. However, he says, the state needs protection from environmentally damaging or abandoned projects, better protection of private property rights, and tax revenue to offset the costs to local governments caused by development.
In addition to the excise tax, Freudenthal proposes to strengthen the Wyoming Industrial Information and Siting Act to ensure adequate bonding or other financial assurances so that the facility will be operated properly from initial site construction through operation, decommissioning and eventual reclamation.
He also wants to enact minimum state standards and enhance county permitting requirements for the proper siting of wind developments, such as setbacks from homes, roads and towns.
Freudenthal says the excise tax would return an estimated $5.9 million per year to the six counties where wind projects are already in operation.
SOURCE: Office of Gov. Freudenthal