Lawmaker wants state to scale down level of tax credits wind energy companies receive

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma now ranks fourth in the nation for wind capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

wind farms continue popping up across the state.

But one lawmaker believes the state should scale down the level of tax credits wind energy companies receive.

"They receive three tax credits that I think are very lucrative," Rep. Earl Sears (R-Bartlesville) said Monday.  "Overly generous.  Let's use that
word."

Sears estimates wind power companies received between 55 and 60 million dollars in tax credits last year in Oklahoma.

To lower that amount, he authored House Bill 1554, which would impose restrictions on the ability of those companies to claim tax credits.

Oklahoma's low oil prices will cause the state to lose tax revenue, but Sears says compensating for that lost tax revenue is not his motivation.

"I'm not doing it (HB 1554) because the state needs money," he said.  "Are we creating jobs?  Are we creating economic development?  Is it good
for Oklahoma?  It's time to have a conversation.  Is this the right credit we want to continue supporting?"

Jeff Clark, Executive Director of The Wind Coalition, said losing tax credits will not benefit the state.

"Will that mean that all wind development will leave?  No, probably not," he said.  "Will it mean the state will be less competitive against Texas
and Kansas?  Probably will."

Clark said in addition to the obvious benefits of wind energy - being endless and clean - it's cheap.

He estimates future wind farm projects will generate $1.7 billion in savings for Oklahoma consumers, and should continue to incentivize those companies.

"It begs the question, why is this state, when it's an energy leader, importing so much energy from out-of-state when you have an infinite amount
of power blowing over your heads every single day?"

HB 1554 is now in the standing appropriations and budget committee.

 

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