Though Wyoming is a northwestern state, it is still firmly in the United States’ solar belt. And it has a bonanza of energy opportunities, with rich wind — including the most superb inland wind resources in the United States, which are in a small, southeastern pocket of the state, and better than average solar and geothermal resources.
While the Wyoming gets, on average, more than 5 kilowatt hours (kWh) of sunlight per square meter per day, the state also is rich in fossil fuels, particularly coal and natural gas and offers few incentives to residents and businesses to help them convert to solar and other renewables.
The state, despite being the 10th largest, is the nation’s least populated with roughly 500,000 residents, according to the Energy Information Administration. That’s less than the 600,000 people who live in Washington, D.C.
In addition to being a magnet for companies exploring for oil shale and natural gas, Wyoming is the top producer of coal in the nation, surpassing the other coal giant, West Virginia. Wyoming's low-sulphur coal is easy to mine since it's found in surface-based deposits, making it attractive to coal-fired power plants that want to keep their emissions low.
Given its large fossil fuel resources, it’s no surprise that the majority of electricity produced in Wyoming comes from coal-fired plants. But the amount of wind power produced in the state continues to increase.
Both Wyoming’s northern and southern neighbors, Colorado and Montana, have established renewable portfolio standards. Wyoming has no RPS and few legislated programs to promote renewable energy adoption.
While limited, Wyoming does offer some incentives to help its residents and businesses adopt renewables and install solar. With harsh winters, the state is offering more incentives geared to help residents invest in energy-efficiency projects, like improving insulation, to help cut back energy costs in the winters. The state offers residents rebates, zero-interest rate loans, and a net metering program to make the conversion to solar and other renewable electricity sources a little easier.
|Program Type||Net Metering|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Wind Energy, Solar Hot Water Heating|
|Amount||Up to 25 kW systems, credited to customer’s bill at retail rate, excess reconciled annually at seasonal avoided-cost rate|
|Required Documentation||Interconnection agreement with utility|
|Official Web Site||http://psc.state.wy.us/|
Under Wyoming’s net-metering law, investor-owned utilities, electric cooperatives, and irrigation districts must offer customers with bi-directional electric meters the option to net meter. As of September 2010, no caps were placed on how much distributed generation a utility must purchase before turning away customers. Any net excess generation (NEG) produced by the customer is carried forward on a monthly basis. And at the end of a 12-month period, payment for any net excess generation is reconciled with the customer at an agreed rate.
Under the net-metering law, eligible technologies systems include photovoltaics, wind, hydroelectric, and biomass systems up to 25 kW in size. The intention of the installed system must be to offset part or all of the customer's electricity needs.
When production exceeds the customer’s needs over a month period, they are credited per kWh of NEG at their retail rate. At the end of a 12-month cycle, the utility will purchase any unused renewable energy credits for NEG at the utility's avoided-cost rate.
Under the law, utilities may not charge customers’ fees in addition to minimum monthly charges that apply to other utility customers in similar rate classes.
Customers must install an external disconnect switch pay for any costs to install equipment or make modifications required by the utility for safety and reliability purposes.
To net meter in the state, customers must sign an interconnection agreement. All utilities in the state base their interconnection agreements on Rocky Mountain Power’s (PacifiCorp) agreement form.
|Program Type||Low-interest Loan Program|
|Technologies||Equipment, insulation, water heaters, furnaces, programmable thermostats, caulking and weather-stripping, windows and doors|
|Amount||$1,000 to $15,000|
|Required Documentation||Program application|
|Official Web Site||http://www.wyomingcda.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&...|
The Wyoming Community Development Authority offers low-interest loans of 4 percent per anum for 180 months or 3 percent deferred simple interest, payable upon transfer of property for energy efficieny upgrades.
Homeowners with an income of 80 percent of the median for the area are eligible for the 4 percent amortized loan. Those who make 50 percent or less of the median income qualify for the 3 percent deferred interest payment.
The program only applies to energy retrofits on existing homes. There could be instances where the loan could be used for a solar or solar-assisted gas hot water heater if its replacing a less efficient water heater.
There is a total of $2 million budgeted for the program.
|Program Type||Utility rebate|
|Technologies||Solar water heat, solar assisted gas boiler, solar assisted gas tankless water heater, solar pool heating|
|Required Documentation||Must be used in support of a new or existing gas appliance|
|Official Web Site||http://www.thermwise.com/wy/wyindex.html|
Questar Gas offers this incentive to help customers upgrade to modern boilers, water storage, hot water heaters or pool heating systems that use solar to assist in hot water heating and, as a result, reduce natural gas consumption.
The rebate is a flat $750 and is only available to Questar customers.
State Grant Program
State Loan Program
Utility Rebate Program
Rules, Regulations & Policies
Building Energy Code
Solar/Wind Permitting Standards
Related Programs & Initiatives
The U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) provides a wide range of information and resources to enable the use of alternative fuels and other petroleum-reduction options, such as advanced vehicles, fuel blends, idle reduction and fuel economy. The AFDC site offers a database of state and federal laws and incentives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, air quality, fuel efficiency, and other transportation-related topics.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Green Power Network provides news and information on green power markets and activities, including opportunities to buy green power. This site provides state-by-state information on green power marketing and utility green power programs. In addition, the site lists marketers of renewable energy credits (RECs), also known as green tags or renewable energy certificates, which represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from renewable energy projects.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy-efficient. Through this program, weatherization service providers install energy-efficiency measures in the homes of qualifying homeowners free of charge. The WAP program web site offers a state-by-state map of opportunities, projects and activities.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America site provides state-by-state information on wind projects and activities, including wind working groups, validated wind maps, anemometer loan programs, small wind guides, state-specific news, wind for schools, workshops and web casts.