Wyoming's Energy Future

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Wyoming's economy has taken its fair share of booms and busts over the last hundred years.

News 13's Justin Roth spoke to local experts to find where they see the future of the energy business in Wyoming.

Crude oil has been a roller-coaster over the past five years. From over $120.00 a barrel in 2012 to near $30.00 a barrel in 2015.

Oil has been over $50.00 a barrel for most of 2017, does this mean more drilling is on the way?

Robert Kirkwood is the General Manager of Kirkwood Oil and Gas, he says not so fast, "Significant drilling activity you have to be north of $60 a barrel and it has to be there for awhile. We're a little of $50 right now, week or so ago we were in the 40s. So until we see some stability I don't think you're going to see a huge amount money going into drilling."

With oil and coal becoming a more unreliable source to keep our economy going, is renewable energy the future?

Michael Malone is an Instructor at Renewable Resources at Casper College he says, "Renewables it helps with the job market. There's a lot of jobs out there for renewables and right now with the wind industry, and Wyoming has some of the best wind in the United States, they are offering a lot of jobs especially if younger people are willing to travel. Travel techs they move around the country by going wind farm to wind farm doing maintenance and troubleshooting."

So what lies in the future for Wyoming energy?

Malone adds, "Right now I think renewables are taking off there really picking up speed and oil and gas of course if you live in Wyoming you know it's been kind of dismal lately but I see that coming back as well. We still need those resources but at the same time those renewables right there just taking off like gangbusters due to the subsidies they get and production tax credit."

Malone mentions we can't just depend on wind or solar energy because there are lulls and fossil fuels would need to be the base filling the down periods.

Kirkwood explains regulations are crippling, but it's not just the federal regulations he says, "Most of the environmental regulations we deal with come through the EPA and their governed and enforced by the local DEQ here in Wyoming or whatever state that it's in. It depends if they roll theirs back, they don't have to. This is a pretty heavily regulated industry."

Kirkwood Oil and Gas has three full-time employees assigned to deal with regulations. That's something they don't see going away anytime soon.

One wind turbine can power about 400 homes and as for the solar industry, its growing nearly twelve times as fast as the US economy according to Business Insider.

Kirkwood adds he's cautiously optimistic with the new administration's ideas for deregulation, saying it would be good to see two removed for every new one put in place.