Shortly after they realized the potential for wind energy creation in Wyoming, renewable energy companies began constructing turbines on private property and then selling the clean power they generated to the residents. However, shortly after their ventures began, Wyoming government officials, acting on behalf of fossil fuel interests, moved in for the kill.’
The state legislature asked the question, “Who owns the wind?”
Without much debate, the Wyoming legislature quickly determined that the state does.
Unlike any other resource derived from the use of private property, which the property owner maintains from surface ownership, the state of Wyoming claims wind is different.
So, lawmakers decided to tax it. For the last several years, Wyoming has been taxing the power generated by wind turbines at $1 per megawatt.
Do not mistake this tax as part of the regular taxes that already apply to businesses like income tax and employment taxes. No, this is an entirely new tax based solely on the assertion by Wyoming officials that they own the wind.
“Wind is different than anything else. It’s not like a mineral, which is something that sits there in the ground until you go after it,” says Bob Whitton, chairman of the Renewable Energy Association of Landowners (REAL). “It’s not like water that can be put in a lake or pond. The wind blows in and blows out and you can’t put it in a pond, pipeline, truck or train and send it somewhere.”