State Now Claims It Owns the Wind — Taxing Renewable Energy “Out of Existence”

wyomingBy Matt Agorist

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.”

“The question is if wind rights should be severable from surface ownership,” says UW Law Professor Dennis Stickley, who has worked on the issue along with a group of graduate students that gave their findings at the recent Wind Energy Task Force meeting in Casper, as reported by WYLR.

“As a general principle, all rights in property are assignable and transferrable and alienable, and you can transfer title,” says Stickley. “Moreover, anecdotally there are situations already where landowners have severed wind rights.”

However, thanks to Wyoming officials, these rights no longer apply.

This move by the state is not in the interest of the people, nor it is even in the interest of raising funds for the government. In the four years that it’s been law, the state has only raised $15 million from taxing the wind.

This move is purely retaliatory and meant to stifle new businesses who threaten the dinosaur coal and fossil fuel industry’s grip on energy production.

“Just about every legislator we’ve met with asks us, ‘You tell us how much we can tax you before we put you out of business,’” said Bill Miller, chief executive of the Power Co. of Wyoming, which is planning the wind farm. “I just shake my head and say, ‘Zero.’”

He said the state was at risk of “taxing this project out of existence.” And this is by design.

There is a current tax of $1 per megawatt hour of wind produced in Wyoming. However, other bills could require setting this amount at perhaps as much as $12 per megawatt hour.

Of course, the wind industry isn’t completely innocent in this debacle either. For years, many of these companies have flourished thanks largely in part to federal and state subsidies. These subsidies created an artificial boom which sent not only wind technology prices through the roof but also solar. However, as we see now, as the government begins turning off the faucet of subsidies, prices go down.

One of the reasons Wyoming is levying this tax is because of these very subsidies. However, like Miller said earlier this year, if they wouldn’t be forced to pay higher taxes on the wind, they wouldn’t even need the federal money.

The cessation of the flow of federal money to startup companies isn’t stopping the big energy companies from using their influence over government to wage war on their renewable competition.

As the Free Thought Project reported earlier this year, while Nevadans were celebrating the holidays under solar-powered lights, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted unanimously to increase a monthly fee on solar customers by 40% while reducing the amount they get paid for excess power sold to the grid. Adding insult to injury, they made the rate changes retroactive, sabotaging consumer investments in solar energy.

This single move by government regulators is effectively killing the solar industry in Nevada and has put an end to the surge of people seeking to detach from the grid by harnessing their own energy from the sun. Just as importantly, it serves to protect the profits of Nevada’s public utility company, NV Energy.

NV Energy—a regulated monopoly with an “authorized rate of return”—is unabashed in saying that the surge in renewable energy is cutting into their profits. Last year the company, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, got Sen. Patricia Farley to draft the amendment that shifted the state’s net metering over to the PUC. In their view, solar customers “don’t pay their fair share to maintain the grid.”

As the energy monopolies of the 1900s attempt to prop up their soon-to-be obsolete industry, the smart and ethical ones will figure out ways to adapt. However, as is the case the majority of the time, those with access to the state will prop themselves up the only way they know how — with government.

Matt Agorist is the co-founder of TheFreeThoughtProject.com, where this article first appeared. He is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world.


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13 Comments on "State Now Claims It Owns the Wind — Taxing Renewable Energy “Out of Existence”"

  1. Hilarious, if it was not so tragic.. But what then, if you utilize solar or wind power WITHOUT being connected to the grid ? Does the grounds for collecting this tax still apply ? Anyone knows ?

    • If you create a commodity, it is taxed. It doesn’t matter if it is physical or intellectual. The federal Govrnment subsidizes the construction of the turbines so heavily that they don’t really belong to property owner, constructed with tax dollars.
      Wind can not supply a consistant source of power. The coal/oil/gas used to back up the wind and solar are taxed also. They must be available to cover the inconsistency.
      If you want solar or wind power, put it in your yard or on your roof. But don’t sell it. If you sell it, you pay the tax.

  2. “As a general principle, all rights in property are assignable and
    transferrable and alienable, and you can transfer title,” says Stickley.” Stickley is wrong about alienable!!! They are unalienable!!! property rights.

  3. Don’t look now, but the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.

    Everyone owns everything from mother Earth. No one owns anything from mother Earth. Both statements are Truths.

    Reading this article shows me more of the same human arrogance & stupidity. Both the the arrogance & stupidity come from deception regarding & denying the above two Truths. It leaves me shaking my head and sighing.

    “Some people.”

  4. Stop being an enabler. Stop paying taxes. Tax is theft.

  5. Some people need everything explained to them.
    The wind does not blow 24/7. And often blows so hard it shuts down the wind turbines. I don’t like being cold and dark. The plant has to provide backup power 24/7 whether you use it or not. Ask Tasmania what happens when you go 100% renewable. Ask Europe about the government electric payments.
    If wind wasn’t paid for by government taxes it would never be an alternative. There is no ‘grid’ you suppose exists to carry power long distances. The entire use of wind as energy has always cost more than it is value added effect.
    If you don’t like coal and oil burning plants, create a new viable source of power. If you don’t like taxes, make that energy plant individualized to each home.
    And you neglect the fact that coal and oil are taxed heavily in Wyoming. You want to sell a commodity, then it should absolutely be taxed.

    • Well, Wynotme.. In a roundabout way I think you answered my question – “Don’t sell it. If you sell it, you pay the tax.” The precondition was that I was not connected to the grid (at all.) Question is, if it will remain untaxed after all, or rather, for how long. The argument could be that by providing x number of KW for yourself, you are robbing big power of their profits… What then ? I’m in to the same idea as what you mention – ” energy plant individualized to each home.” Of course I’m aware that solar, nor wind power, or even combined can (unfortunately) never be the sole source for any industrialized nation. But for off-grid living in a rural area, depending on your requirements, is still good enough. The economy of it all left unregarded.

      • If a tax were ever to be applied, it would be applied to the purchase of the equipment (think excise tax on tires.) depending on which party is prevalent in US politics, or state politics, will determine whether a tax is applied.
        One day we will have no more resources for power plants. Gas oil and coal will be used up. By that time, it is my fantasy that home energy will be provided by a football sized nuclear tube inserted in a well casing 20 feet below a home just as a water well is often in the back yard. Homes can easy be converted to a 12 or 24 volt DC system that can store energy for times when solar and wind are not available.
        Whatever we elect to pursue, it should bare no taxes other than sales taxes. To understand the taxation issue we must understand the purpose of taxes in the economy and the flow of money from creation to protraction. But we will leave that for another time.
        Reference: “The Web of Debt”- Ellen Hobson-Brown.

  6. Tax his land, tax his wage,
    Tax his bed in which he lays.
    Tax his tractor, tax his mule,
    Teach him taxes is the rule.

    Tax his cow, tax his goat,
    Tax his pants, tax his coat.
    Tax his ties, tax his shirts,
    Tax his work, tax his dirt.

    Tax his chew, tax his smoke,
    Teach him taxes are no joke.
    Tax his car, tax his grass,
    Tax the roads he must pass.

    Tax his food, tax his drink,
    Tax him if he tries to think.
    Tax his sodas, tax his beers,
    If he cries, tax his tears.

    Tax his bills, tax his gas,
    Tax his notes, tax his cash.
    Tax him good and let him know
    That after taxes, he has no dough.

    If he hollers, tax him more,
    Tax him until he’s good and sore.
    Tax his coffin, tax his grave,
    Tax the sod in which he lays.

    Put these words upon his tomb,
    “Taxes drove me to my doom!”
    And when he’s gone, we won’t relax,
    We’ll still be after the inheritance tax.

    And now we have to add wind tax to the list.

    Had the 18th-century founders (like their 17th-century Christian Colonial predecessors) established government and society on Yahweh’s moral law (including his economic and taxing laws), none of this would be possible.

    For more, see online Chapter 25 “Amendment 16: Graduated Income Tax vs. Flat Increase Tax” of “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective.” Click on my picture, then our website. Go to our Online Books page, click on the top entry, and scroll down to Chapter 25.

    Then find out how much you REALLY know about the Constitution as compared to the Bible. Take our 10-question Constitution Survey in the right-hand sidebar.

  7. There are so many reasons to get off the grid, and this article depicts plenty of them.

  8. freedom to organic life | August 17, 2016 at 6:33 am | Reply

    If you keep feeding the beast then you deserve to be leeched. COME ON America stand up for yourselves. Whatever happens to you will become a plague or freedom to the rest of the world.

  9. This situation looks as though the State legislatures are governing for the benefit of corporations and against the best interests of the residents of the individual State. The only way to stop this egregious and venal arrangement is to throw out the bums and elect true benefactors who believe in beneficial public policy in the interests of all the people not just the 1%.

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