University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Renewable Energy in the Cowboy State

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May 2020

Kseniya Husak*, Jackie Wrage*, Malika Begum*, University of Michigan

Abstract

The cowboy state of Wyoming more than lives up to its reputation as a rugged, big, beautiful place. Between Yosemite in the West and vast prairies in the East, stupendous mineral deposits and an undeniable presence of grit as well as independence, Wyoming is truly a unique state where no one size fits all. Wyoming’s relationship with renewable energy is complicated, with renewables seen as both a threat to the coal industry upon which Wyoming is heavily reliant, but also as a potential source of future economic growth. As the economic currents change, pushing the state away from coal, Wyoming is beginning to grapple with what its future will look like in a world where the neighboring states are turning to it to fulfill their RPS requirements. The lack of explicit policies and a reluctance to provide incentives for renewables created a challenging environment for wind and solar development. Nevertheless, a number of projects are underway posing a question of how much longer Wyoming can afford to be send mixed signals towards renewables.

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