Petroff’s natural gas tax break bill advances
By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
January 25, 2013
Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff’s proposal to provide tax breaks to new natural gas filling stations is making its way through the Legislature.
But other alternative-energy bills the Jackson Republican is sponsoring have stalled.
Wyoming House members approved the bill 34-25 on its last reading Thursday.
“If we don’t get in there with some kind of help to get businesses over the bar, we’re not going to get any new stations,” Petroff said.
Lawmakers amended the bill to remove a four-year deadline on the program. Instead, they inserted a limit on the amount of equipment that could be purchased under the tax exemption.
The bill would provide a tax break on the sale of any equipment used to dispense natural gas to vehicles at a filling station or “other commercial establishment.” If passed, the tax breaks would end after companies buy $6.25 million of equipment for natural gas filling stations.
Legislators changed the bill to ease their fears that Wyoming would be overrun with natural gas stations over the life of the tax exemption, Petroff said.
“They’re worried that 50 stations would go up in the four years of the exemption,” she said Tuesday, before the amendment was added.
Petroff said the dollar limit would likely allow for eight or nine new stations in the state.
An alliance of Jackson groups is trying to build a natural gas station on south Broadway.
The bill is one of the few tax exemptions Petroff sponsored this year that is gaining traction among legislators. One would offer tax breaks for converting vehicles to run on natural gas and another would provide an exemption for people who buy new natural gas vehicles. But those bills have not moved.
A third failed in committee Wednesday.
Petroff said tax breaks are an economic development tool, but some lawmakers are resistant to new subsidies after the state’s last energy boom.
“Some [tax breaks] were good. Some were not so well thought out,” she said. “Now it’s kind of the reverse trend. No one wants to give it to anything.”
Petroff estimates that the tax exemption for fueling station equipment would cost the state a maximum of $375,000 in lost revenue over the course of the program.