Update on Wind Wyoming Way
State Senator Cale Case
[February 10th 2020] — Our political action committee hired Molly Box to develop a website which we hope to bring online soon. Molly’s father is the famous author CJ Box who has taken a few jabs at wind development in Wyoming in his books. (I recommend his book The Disappeared which, in part is a mystery about a cover-up of eagle deaths.)
Welcome Molly we are very happy to have you helping us.
We also now have a non-profit corporation Wyoming Wind Energy that will be able to achieve a tax-exempt classification by the IRS. Wyoming Wind Energy is seeking donations for its educational mission. Lobbying will be accomplished through our political action committee.
The Rail Tie Wind project in Albany county has really brought attention to the issue of industrial-scale wind development. Many locals are upset at the prospect of 675-foot skyscrapers hovering over the vistas around Ames Monument and both sides of the highway around Tie Siding. These are monsters and for all of you that recall that UW’s White Hall at 146 feet tall is the tallest building in Wyoming, imagine 150 turbines, each more than 4 ½ times as tall!
In response to an industrial-scale solar installation in Sweetwater County that poorly accommodates ungulate migration, especially pronghorn, and is built on top of and prevents the mining of trona deposits that are under lease by an existing operator, the Corporations Committee has a siting bill: SF 36: Large Scale Solar and Wind Energy Facilities. You can see the bill at:
SF 36 is mostly about industrial-scale solar, but also addresses a few items in the wind farm arena, including financing and siting requirements near military facilities. The industrial-scale solar and wind industries will be doing their best to kill this bill. Their first attack will be to try to prevent the bill from getting the 2/3rds vote needed for introduction in the Senate. It would be helpful if you were to send the Senators an encouraging note.
We have invited Lisa Linowes to be at the Legislature on February 20, 2020. She is the founder of WindAction.org. Lisa is
“an expert on the impacts of industrial-scale wind energy development on the natural environment, communities, and the regional grid systems. A conservation and land use advocate with over 20 years of executive business experience, Ms. Linowes has held high-profile elected and volunteer positions in community planning, land negotiation, and education outreach.
Since its formation in 2006, Ms. Linowes has served as Executive Director and spokesperson for The WindAction Group, a national advocacy focused on the impact/benefits analysis and policy issues associated with industrial wind energy development. As publisher and editor of the www.WindAction.org website, she tracks news and research pertaining to industrial wind, and facilitates information sharing on the issue.” http://www.windaction.org/
The schedule for Lisa’s visit is not entirely worked out, but she and Ken Lay are developing a program. There is a lot going on at the Capitol on February 20th, but this is so important, and I hope that our event will be well attended by legislators and the public. Lisa’s expenses are being paid by our political action committee.
There may be a bill to try to deal with the problem of wind turbines in landfills. This has been much in the news recently, often accompanied by a photo of turbine blades at the Natrona county landfill. A representative from Natrona County has told me that he is bringing a bill. Here is an article about blade disposal near Casper that was in the BBC news a couple of days ago:https://www.bbc.com/news/business-51325101
I remain hopeful that we can increase the wind tax in this session. So far, the only bill that has traction is a bill to add the current wind tax level to industrial-scale solar facilities. This means that solar would pay 1/10 cent per kWh ($1 MWh) just like wind currently does. The bill also contains a provision that these large solar facilities will not enjoy the three-year tax holiday that applies to new wind-facilities. My goal is to eliminate the three-year tax holiday for everyone – wind and solar. When this bill is filed, I will let you know. Informal polling reveals broad support for it in both houses of the legislature.
There are others, including some in leadership in both houses that are talking about a $3 MWh tax this year. We need to give them encouragement.
Post session: The Initiative
After the session, the initiative will need to begin. It will have to be redrafted if there are any changes to the tax statute to add the tax to solar and change the tax moratorium period. It is essential that the language in the initiative reflect the current state of the law to prevent ambiguities which can lead to legal challenges. The current initiative language did not anticipate the addition of a tax on solar.
Get involved. Contact your legislators. Donate.
All the best, Cale