CASPER, Wyo. — The House voted Wednesday to extend from 2013 to 2015 a moratorium on eminent domain of property for certain wind energy lines.
House Bill 40 would prohibit eminent domain for “wind collector systems,” which are the lines that move electricity from wind farms to the nearest substations.
Public utilities can be exempt from the moratorium, the bill states.
The wind industry in Wyoming opposes the legislation, said Dave Picard, a lobbyist for the Wyoming Power Producers Coalition, a trade group of electric power generators and transmitters, many of whom work with renewable-energy sources.
“We’re disappointed we continue to kick the can down the road, and it seems like an endless road right now,” he said. “The actual bill itself is unfair and discriminates against independent power producers when they’re building their projects, versus public utilities.”
Legislation such as HB40 is among of the reasons windy Wyoming is experiencing a slower development of wind energy than other states, Picard said.
Wyoming needs to be competitive with its neighbors or lose out, he added.
The wind energy industry doesn’t necessarily want to exercise the right of eminent domain — a legal process of seizing people's properties to build facilities. Most of the state’s wind projects are in cooperation with landowners willing to host wind turbines and be compensated, he said.
“But it’s a constitutional right to have this right of eminent domain,” Picard said. “Other industry members have it, and this legislation is putting a moratorium on the industry, known as the independent power producers.”
The bill now goes to the Senate.
The bill was sponsored by the Joint Judiciary Interim Committee.