Energy policy in Wyoming
Energy • Environment • Fracking • Public education • Higher education • School choice • Charter schools • Public pensions • State budget and finances • Taxes • Voting • Ballot access • Redistricting
- 1 Energy overview
- 2 Energy policy
- 3 In the news
- 4 See also
- 5 External links
- 6 References
Energy policy in Wyoming depends on geography, natural energy resources, how electricity is generated, how much energy consumers use, politics and the influence of groups such as environmental and industry organizations. Decisions by policymakers, such as state and local governments, utilities and regulatory agencies, affect all citizens economically and environmentally, and are generally geared toward providing reliable, affordable energy. The cost of energy affects not only home heating and electricity bills, and thus disposable income, but also economic growth, including jobs, investment and the cost of doing business in the state.
How energy is produced and consumed also has an impact on the environment and pollution. Energy policy in Wyoming focuses on energy production and export revenues, mainly from coal. As the infrastructure for producing and delivering renewable energy sources is not as advanced as it is for energy generation from traditional sources, these policies often require subsidies to make the produced energy affordable, and their effects are difficult to measure.
Energy policy involves tradeoffs between providing an affordable, consistent energy supply on the one hand, and limiting pollution and protecting the environment, on the other. How states attempt to balance these two differs between states, and often boils down to costs to consumers versus costs to the environment. This article provides general energy information about the state as the context within which energy policy is made, as well as information about major legislation and public and private groups that play a role in setting energy policy in the state.
Below are quick facts about Wyoming's energy climate.
- is a net electricity exporter.
- has fossil fuels in the form of crude oil, natural gas and coal.
- has renewable energy in the form of hydroelectric energy and wind energy.
- supplies more energy to the nation than any other state.
- produced 9 percent of the nation's natural gas production in 2011.
- has the eighth largest coal mines in the U.S.
- had the second lowest average electricity price of any state in 2011.
- 86 percent of net electricity generation came from coal in 2011.
- 13 percent came from renewable energy resources, primarily wind, in 2011.
- natural gas is the main source of energy used in home heating.
- there are no nuclear power plants.
- there are some of the best wind resources in the United States.
Available energy resources
Wyoming has traditional energy resources in the form of oil, coal and natural gas. The state accounts for about 3 percent of the United State's crude oil, 9 percent of the natural gas and about one-fifth of coal. Most natural gas produced in Wyoming is shipped to both the Midwest and West Coast through interstate pipelines.
Wyoming has renewable energy resources in the form of wind and hydroelectric energy. Wyoming has among the best wind resources in the nation, especially in the southeast quadrant of the state. Wind installations have increased rapidly in recent years. Many large projects are in development including what might be the largest wind project in the nation at Chokecherry-Sierra Madre. Most of the state's hydropower plants are small and federally owned.
Consumption and prices
|Energy consumption in Wyoming|
Transportation Residential Industrial Commercial
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As shown on the pie chart in 2011, an overwhelming 58 percent of energy consumed in Wyoming is in the industrial sector. Transportation accounted for one fifth of the energy; the rest was used mostly in residential and commercial buildings--for heating, cooling, lighting and other functions. Most of the energy used in the state is in the form of coal, followed by natural gas and oil. Gasoline, used in transportation, accounts for three-fifths of the petroleum consumed in the state. In-state total petroleum consumption is small, and refineries deliver much of their output to neighboring states.
Generally the price of gasoline in the state are considerably lower than the national average. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's February 2014 report, the federal excise tax is 18.40 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24.40 cents per gallon of diesel fuel. In addition to that, Massachusetts collects a total tax of 14 cents on every gallon of gasoline, gasohol diesel fuel, which ranks it at the 49th highest in the United States.
- See also: State Energy Rankings to compare all 50 states
The table below compares Wyoming's consumption and spending for energy, as well as prices for natural gas and electricity, and carbon emissions to those of South Dakota, which has similar population, resources and consumption needs because of climate and geography. Also given are the U.S. averages and the state rankings. All rankings are from highest to lowest, so, for example:
- Wyoming's rank of 33rd in carbon emissions means that carbon emissions are higher in Wyoming than in South Dakota, which has a ranking of 47th.
- Per capita income in both South Dakota and Wyoming are higher than the national average, yet Wyoming still ranks higher at eighth than South Dakota at 19th.
- These two states are very similarly ranked in the top 10 on per capita spending and per capita consumption.
- Both states are similarly ranked in the bottom third for the price of natural gas.
- Because of the small size of each respective state, both South Dakota and Wyoming rank in the bottom ten for total energy consumption.
|Consumption and Expenditures Comparisons Summary|
|Type||Wyoming||South Dakota||U.S. Figures|
|Figure||U.S. Rank*||Figure||U.S. Rank*||Totals|
|Population||0.6 million||51||0.8 million||46||313.9 million|
|Per Capita Income Average||$48,670||8||$43,659||19||$42,693|
|Total Consumption||553 trillion BTU||40||382 trillion BTU||45||97,301 quadrillion BTU|
|Per Capita Energy Consumption||975 million BTU||1||464 million BTU||8||312 million BTU|
|Total Spending on Energy||$5,406 million||46||$4,547 million||47||$1,394,088 million|
|Per Capita Spending on Energy||$9,529||3||$5,521||9||$4,474|
|Price of Residential Natural Gas, dollar per thousand cubic feet||$8.40||37||$8.29||39||$12.48|
|Price of Electricity, cents per kWh||10.24||37||10.06||39||12.31|
|Total Carbon Dioxide Emissions, million metric tons (2010)||64.9||33||15.1||47||5,631|
|*Rank is from highest to lowest.|
A majority of homes in Wyoming, 58.7 percent, are heated with natural gas. Electricity is the next most common home heating source, followed by LPG, other sources and fuel oil.
|Consumption of energy for heating homes in Wyoming|
|Source||Wyoming 2011||U.S. average 2011|
|Liquid Petroleum Gases (LPG)||10.3%||5%|
Production and transmission
Wyoming produced 10,353.4 trillion BTU of energy in 2011. Of that nearly three-fourths came from coal and just under a quarter came from natural gas. The rest accounted for less than .5 percent and came from what the U.S. Energy Information Administration classifies as 'other,' which is "assumed to equal consumption of all renewable energies except biofuels."
|Energy production by type in Wyoming, 2011|
|% of State||% of USA|
Six out of every seven kWh of net electricity generation in Wyoming comes from coal-fired power plants. Wind energy accounts for one-tenth of net electricity generation, and has rapidly grown in recent history. Small hydropower facilities also contribute. Natural gas and petroleum generate only minor amounts of electricity, although some new natural gas-fired capacity is being built to replace aging coal units. Most power from natural gas and petroleum is generated and consumed at industrial facilities.
Because Wyoming's population is the lowest in the nation, it uses a small amount of coal, despite having the highest per capita spending on energy. Because of the mass production and relatively small consumption, Wyoming exports energy and six major interstate projects are under way to transmit more power out of Wyoming to western population centers.
|Where electricity comes from in Wyoming|
|Type||Amount generated (MWh)||% of state**||% of U.S.**|
|Total net electricity generation||4,514,000||100%||0.11%|
|**Note: Because the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) does not include all of a state's energy production in these figures, the EIA totals do not equal 100 percent. Instead, we have generated our own percentages.|
In Wyoming there are currently 17 municipal electric utilities and four private electric utilities. For natural gas there are 11 natural gas utilities. Nearly two-thirds of the electricity produced in Wyoming is exported to nearby states.
- See also: Fracking in Wyoming
Energy policy is made, executed and influenced by many organizations, both public and private, and is codified in the laws and regulations of the state. Each state’s energy policy involves trade-offs in which energy production and prices are weighed against environmental concerns and efficiency. Wyoming focuses much time developing their natural gas industry as it represents about ten percent of the nation's total natural gas production. Wyoming also focuses on the revenues the state receives from their petroleum as they produce 3 percent of the nations total. These are large numbers considering the state's population only accounts for a fraction of the percentage of the United States. Wyoming is one of 19 states without a RPS, meaning they have no legislative plan or requirement to increase renewable energy resources.
According to the "2013 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard" published by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Wyoming ranks 50th in energy efficiency with a score of 5.5 out of 50. North Dakota is the only state that ranked lower than Wyoming. There are differing estimates about the economic impact of these mandates in terms of costs that may affect prices and jobs, as well as the impact on the environment and pollution. Thus, for example, there are many new studies of what is called the "rebound effect" which refers to the fact that "some of the theoretically estimated gains in energy efficiency will be eroded as consumers consume additional goods and services."
- Wyo. Stat. 37-16-101 (2001) instituted a net-metering law that requires systems with capacity of up to 25 kilowatts generating electricity using solar, wind, hydropower, or biomass to implement basic interconnection. Separate interconnection rules have not been established by the Wyoming Public Service Commission (PSC). At their own expense, customers must install an external disconnect switch.
- In Docket No. 20000-264-EA-06 (2008) the Wyoming Public Service Commission "approved six demand-side-management programs for Rocky Mountain Power (RMP)." They began January 2009 and are the state's first significant energy efficiency effort.
- Wyo. Stat. 18-5-500 (2010) required that permits must obtained for all wind facilities larger than 0.5 megawatts (MW) that begin construction after July 1, 2010. The permits must be obtained by the county where the facility is located. Any enlargements must also obtain permits.
Government agencies and committees
- The Wyoming State Legislature has a joint committee that review energy issues for the state, the Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee. The Senate has a similar committee, the Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee, and does the House Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee.
- The Wyoming Public Service Commission regulates four investor-owned electric utilities that operate in Wyoming. The commission also has authority to regulate rural retail electric cooperatives in Wyoming.
- The Wyoming Legislature Energy Council consists of six state senators and six state representatives. It is responsible for state legislation regarding production and regulation of energy production and consumption.
- Leading the Charge is a plan of action by the Wyoming state government in the form of a newsletter. The most recent publication was published in 2013. Its goal is to continue Wyoming's high levels of energy production, but to do so in a more energy efficient manner. It reveals a desire for the state of Wyoming to continue to be a major energy producer while maintaining both effectiveness and efficiency. It also seeks to develop new innovations and technologies in energy production while helping preserve the state's environment.
- The Wyoming Energy Council, Inc. provides energy assessment, weatherization, conservation awareness and education services to low-income families, the disabled, seniors and homes with small children.
- The Wyoming Business Council's State Energy Office (SEO) promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy in Wyoming. They are a formal partner with the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service to encourage, research and implement energy efficiency. The organization's mission is "to support viable energy efficiency efforts and energy resource development that contribute to Wyoming's long-term economic sustainability and the nation's energy independence."
In the news
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Wyoming+Energy+Policy"
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Wyoming Profile at the U.S. Energy Information Administration
- Wyoming Profile at National Association of State Energy Officials
- These figures come from the U.S. Energy Information Administration's State Profiles and Energy Estimates, Wyoming Overview. Statistics for population and per capita income are for the year 2012; consumption and spending estimates are for 2011; and prices are for October 2013. Updated pricing information is available on the state's EIA profile. Prices will be updated on this page biannually.
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Wyoming Overview," accessed February 26, 2014
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Wyoming Overview," accessed February 26, 2014
- This chart depicts the state's energy consumption as reported by the EIA for 2011. Click the image to enlarge.
- Gas Buddy, "Historical Gas Charts," accessed February 26, 2014
- To compare current gasoline prices in Wyoming to the U.S averages, go to GasBuddy.com
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Petroleum Marketing Monthly," February 2014," accessed February 14, 2014
- The Tax Foundation, "State Gasoline Tax Rates, 2009-2013," March 21, 2013
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "State Energy Data System, Production," accessed February 25, 2014
- These figures come from the EIA State Profiles and Energy Estimates U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Wyoming Overview," accessed February 26, 2014
- Energy Wise Wyoming, "Utilities," accessed February 26, 2014
- The Institute for Energy Research, "The Status of Renewable Energy Mandates in the States," accessed February 27, 2014
- According to a report called "The Status of Renewable Electricity Mandates in the States," by the free-market Institute for Energy Research, the cost of electricity in states with RPS were on average 38 percent higher in 2010 than in states without a RPS.
- Institute for Energy Research, "The Status of Renewable Electricity Mandates in the States," accessed March 24, 2014
- Manhattan Institute, "The High Cost of Renewable-Energy Mandates," February 2012
- American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, "2013 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard," accessed February 27, 2014
- International Risk Governance Council, "The Rebound Effect: Implications of Consumer Behavior for Robust Energy Policies," accessed March 3, 2014
- Scientific American, "How Bad Is the Rebound from Energy Efficiency Efforts?," May 21, 2013, accessed March 3, 2014
- Database for State Renewable Energy, "Interconnection Guidelines," accessed February 27, 2014
- American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, "Wyoming Utility Policies," accessed February 27, 2014
- Database for State Renewable Energy, "Wind Energy Permitting Standard," accessed February 27 2014
- Wyoming Public Service Commission, "Energy Industry," accessed February 27, 2014
- State of Wyoming Legislature, "Energy Committee," accessed February 27, 2014
- Leading the Change, "Wyoming's Action Plan for Energy, Environment and Economy," accessed February 27, 2014
- Wyoming Energy Council, Inc., "About Us," accessed February 27, 2014
- National Association of State Energy Officials, "Wyoming Profile," accessed February 27, 2014
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