Only three states have more wind power than Oklahoma.
The state has 5,453 megawatts of installed wind-powered electrical generation capacity and more than 1,100 megawatts under construction, according to a national wind trade group’s latest market report.
Only Texas, Iowa and California can offer more wind generation, and Oklahoma should pull ahead of California by year’s end, according to recent reporting in The Oklahoman.
We’re glad that private enterprise is putting the state’s clean natural resources to work, but it has been at a tremendous current and future cost.
While wind energy produces relatively few jobs, it is being granted some tremendously lucrative tax incentives in the state.
Windwaste, an advocacy group pushing for a more equitable taxation on the wind industry, says under the current tax law, recent wind farm generation growth announcements and projects in the works could cost the state more than $2.4 billion over 10 years. That’s money that should be available for schools, roads and public safety, but won’t be because of overly generous tax deals for the wind industry.
Much of that money is going to foreign companies to create energy that is already sold to utilities outside of Oklahoma.
Wind energy is good for the environment, and we want it developed in Oklahoma, where there’s plenty of wind. But the tax incentives – particularly the state’s uncapped, transferable zero-emissions tax credit program – have to be moderated to protect funding for vital state services.
Cap the costs and end the refundable nature of the tax credit. Then, let’s look at a modest severance tax on wind energy so that some of those foreign companies’ big profits stay in the state.
Some smart reform would leave reasonable incentives in place for the industry to continue its growth without blowing more holes in the state budget.
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