Bill would repeal Wyoming's rules for home wind, solar power

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers have advanced legislation that would change how the state regulates home-scale wind and solar power.

The bill endorsed by a legislative committee Tuesday would repeal Wyoming's net-metering rules for how homeowners with their own power-generating systems sell electricity for others to use.

If approved by the full Legislature and signed into law, the bill would task the Wyoming Public Service Commission with setting up a new system that would no longer require utilities to buy excess power generated by home-scale systems, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

The change would keep utility rates fair for people without home-scale renewable energy, said supporters of the bill endorsed by the Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions.

Opponents argued the bill would endanger Wyoming's home-scale renewable energy industry by removing incentives to install wind and solar systems.

A lobbyist for Wyoming's largest utility, Rocky Mountain Power, argued in favor of the change, saying the current system unfairly subsidizes independent electricity generators by allowing them to pay different fees at the expense of most ratepayers.

The current net-metering system is not sustainable, Wyoming Office of Consumer Advocate Administrator Bryce Freeman said.

“It will eventually lead to rate impacts on customers who don’t generate their own electricity,” he said. “And the ones I worry about most in the state are low-income customers.”

Any subsidy is negligible yet the legislation would threaten the livelihoods of 150 workers in Wyoming’s solar energy sector and the more than one dozen businesses installing small-scale renewable energy in the state, Wyoming Outdoor Council lobbyist Steff Kessler said.

“It essentially kills this industry,” Kessler said of the bill.

The bill heads for consideration by the full Legislature, which plans to reconvene for a virtual eight-day session on Jan. 27.