May 17, 2016

Oklahoma House committee defeats bill to speed up end of wind energy tax credit

By Randy Ellis | The Oklahoman | May 16, 2016 |

An Oklahoma House committee Monday defeated a bill designed to save the state $306 million over more than a decade by phasing out the state’s zero emissions tax credit for the wind industry beginning at the end of 2017 rather than the end of 2020.

The bill was defeated 13-15 after some members of the state House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget questioned whether it would be fair for lawmakers to renege on a deal with the wind industry made just last year that included allowing a five-year property tax exemption for the wind industry to expire beginning at the end of this year.

The state currently is scheduled to begin phasing out the 10-year zero emissions tax credit by not allowing any new wind farms to take advantage of the credit if they are placed in service after Dec. 31, 2020.

That program currently is projected to cost the state $981 million between now and when the program is scheduled to run out at the end of 2030, House Speaker Jeff Hickman told committee members.

Hickman said if committee members would agree to phase out the tax credit beginning at the close of 2017, the amount of tax credits the state would be expected to pay between now and the end of the program in 2027 would be reduced to $675 million.

That would be a savings of $306 million, although the state would not realize any of the savings for this year’s budget, said Hickman, R-Fairview.

Hickman said the bill could still be resurrected, but he doesn’t know where he would get the votes to pass it.

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