Wyoming’s 66th Legislature passed a flurry of bills this year. Some could affect the state’s energy and natural resources industries, from measures to slow coal closures and support hydrogen research to mineral tax reform.
Passed: Presumption against early fossil fuel retirements
House Bill 166 requires utilities to take additional steps before they can receive approval from state regulators to retire aging coal or natural gas plants. The bill will not allow the state commission to give a green light to fossil fuel plant closures unless the utility can present a certain amount of proof in support of the action.
Passed: $1.2 million for coal litigation
House Bill 207 gives Wyoming’s governor and attorney general $1.2 million to challenge actions taken by other states that “impede the export of Wyoming coal or the continued operation of Wyoming’s coal-fired electric generation facilities, including early retirements of those facilities.”
Passed: Utility regulators must make considerations
Senate File 136 requires the Public Service Commission — the agency responsible for regulating the state’s public utilities — to weigh additional factors before making decisions, such as allowing a utility to retire a coal plant, or make investments in wind energy.
Passed: Public utility regulators get a boost
House Bill 30, is designed to make up for a shortfall in the Public Service Commission’s budget by adding additional tax mills to the utilities currently regulated by the agency. The legislation would raise an estimated $2.3 million to help fund positions within the agency necessary to keep the division running smoothly.
Passed: Monthly ad-valorem tax revision
A law passed in 2020 requires energy firms in Wyoming to pay mineral tax payments to county governments on a more frequent, monthly basis, with a significant transition period built in to help companies get on board with the new system. Its aim was to make tax delinquencies, primarily from coal mine operators, a thing of the past. But Wyoming officials have faced logistical challenges rolling out the new law. Senate File 60, passed during the most recent legislative session, helps work out some kinks in the law.
Passed: Wyoming Energy Authority’s broadened focus
Senate File 43 extends support to the Wyoming Energy Authority to expand the state’s rare earth minerals industry and help Wyoming expand geothermal or hydrogen projects. The Wyoming Energy Authority is a relatively new state agency that started last year. The Legislature moved to combine two existing state agencies involved in energy into one: Wyoming’s Pipeline Authority and Infrastructure Authority. The bill also allows the authority to support or issue bonds for relevant projects for rare earth minerals, other critical minerals and the state’s trona industries.