The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has sent its recommendations on wind farms to the Legislature, the product of several hearings and hundreds of comments from the public and industry over siting, notification and decommissioning.
Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, requested the inquiry after several pieces of wind-related legislation failed in last year’s session.
The Corporation Commission’s public utility division recommended the commission not get involved in the placement of wind farms, saying it was better left to local authorities and other agencies already involved in the siting process.
“There is not a one-size-fits-all siting template that would be applicable and/or appropriate across the entire state,” the report said.
The commission’s public utility division said it will develop rules on the decommissioning of wind farms, fleshing out the requirements already enacted under the Oklahoma Wind Energy Development Act in 2011. The same rule making will include discussion of changes to current industry practices for the notification of nearby property owners about proposed wind projects.
Bingman said he appreciated the thorough study of the issue by the commission.
“Their summary provides us with important knowledge and perspective on the wind industry in Oklahoma,” Bingman said in a statement. “By engaging a broad variety of stakeholders, the commission has given us a more complete picture of the issues facing wind energy development in Oklahoma.”
Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, has introduced a bill covering some of the same issues studied by the commission, although he said Tuesday he is still tweaking the language.
Sears said he believes wind farms should have a designated setback from other property owners and proper notification should be given to surrounding landowners.
“I just think it’s the right thing to do,” Sears said. “We’ve got to do something.”
Sears said he plans another bill to make changes to the state’s zero-emission tax incentive, which offers a 10-year tax credit of 0.5 cents for each kilowatt hour of electricity generated by wind.
Sears said any changes to the tax credit won’t affect current wind farms. It would reduce the credit for wind farms placed in service after Jan. 1, 2016, based on a sliding scale, although details are still being worked out, he said.
The Oklahoma Tax Commission’s report on tax expenditures said $18 million in zero-emission tax credits were claimed in 2012. That estimate is expected to grow with new wind farms coming online in the last couple of years.
Among the end users of the tax credit in 2012 were big corporations such as Apple Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc., as well as Tulsa oilman and banker George Kaiser, Tax Commission records show. After 2013, the tax credit was no longer transferable.
The wind industry released a report last year showing it invested more than $6 billion in Oklahoma’s economy from 2003 to 2012.
The report said the state’s wind farms provide an additional $43 million a year in property tax revenue and pay an estimated $22 million annually in landowner royalties.
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