The interim Legislative committees have gotten underway in North Dakota. These committees will gather periodically to study challenges and piece together draft legislation that may be taken up when the full Legislature convenes again in 2019. Yesterday, the Energy Development and Transmission Committee met. A topic they’re considering is raising taxes on wind energy.
You may recall during the legislative session earlier this year the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee tried to sneak a two-year wind ban through committee. There was no public hearing on the topic. We first exposed their quiet attempt here on ND xPlains. Through our reporting, it was revealed the true reason behind this attempted ban was to help the coal industry. You can refresh your memory from the audio we published of the debate in February. After public pressure and outrage, the Senate Republicans behind the move dropped their proposed ban. The drop came after one last effort to “take some of the edge off” of the ban. However, their distaste toward wind energy as they favor other energy resources remains.
For the next two years, this committee will debate whether or not the state should raise taxes on wind energy. What is significant about this two-year time frame, is in two years the Renewable Electric Production Tax Credit (PTC) is phased out. If Congress does not extend the PTC, the tax credit will disappear in 2019. In that same year, the North Dakota Legislature convenes and may raise state taxes on the wind industry. The simultaneous impact could slow down wind development in the state pushing them elsewhere. This would mean the loss of good paying jobs and rural economic development.
Perhaps this is a continuation of legislators wanting to stifle this particular industry in an attempt to prop up another. This is a debate we will keep on our radar as the committee continues its work.