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Wind industry discusses future of economy amid Oklahoma budget crisis

OKLAHOMA CITY - Proponents of the wind industry met at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Tuesday morning to talk about the state of the industry and how projects could be in danger.

However, opponents say their fears are unfounded.

"There's a proposal to put a dollar-per-megawatt hour charge on top of full ad valorem taxes that we pay today,” Executive Director of OK WindPower Mark Yates said.

OK WindPower, an organization comprised of wind energy advocates, is speaking out against proposals they say will triple tax their industry.

"It’s to the detriment to these projects and the state's reputation," Yates said.

Mark Yates believes some proposals could deter future wind power companies from making Oklahoma home. Last year, Gov. Fallin signed a bill ending the state's zero-emission tax credit.

"There's also proposals out there to cap incentives that have already been granted to the existing projects that these companies were recruited to this state, eliminating or capping them at such a low rate that could literally jeopardize the financing on these projects,” Yates said.

The group referenced a plan revealed by “Step Up Oklahoma,” a coalition comprised of business and civic leaders, including some from oil companies.

"The price tag that was given to us by Step Up Oklahoma was $60 [million] to $70 million. That's literally the equivalent to an additional 15% on what we already pay,” Yates added.

But opponents say Oklahoma doesn't see profits like the wind industry claims.

"It is money that is literally blowing in the wind, getting sucked out of the state. It's really not helping our energy costs because most of the energy gets sucked out of the state and goes to Tennessee and other places,” Rep. Kevin Calvey said.

Calvey says incentives have already taken so much money from the state.

"This is an industry that has really raided the public treasury to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars over the last several years and it would only seem fair for that industry to pay back what they have taken,” Calvey said.