OKLAHOMA CITY – A new report says an Oklahoma tax credit that provides millions of dollars to the wind industry is overly generous and should be trimmed sooner than planned.
The report by the consultant Public Financial Management makes recommendations on a series of tax incentive programs under the requirements of a law enacted last year. Oklahoma provides about $1 billion in business tax breaks annually, but faces a huge budget shortfall for core public services like education, health and public safety, The Oklahoman reported.
The report was reviewed Friday by members of a legislative committee. The largest credit under consideration is for emission-free energy production facilities, especially wind power, which had a financial impact of more than $113 million in 2014.
The tax break closes for new recipients on Jan. 1, 2021. The consultant recommended moving the date to Jan. 1, 2018, for wind-generating facilities, or putting a cap on the credit to reduce state expenses.
“There has been significant increase in use of the credit, which may accelerate further in coming years,” the report said. “There are not current adequate protections such as caps to deal with possible future fiscal impact.”
Rick Mosier of WindWaste, a nonprofit organization that’s critical of the wind energy industry, said the report reveals “what little Oklahoma has received for the hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money spent.”
But Jeff Clark of the Wind Coalition, a wind energy advocacy group, said the report ignores the benefits – such as saving money for utility ratepayers, providing funds for public education and providing renewable energy for companies that want to invest in Oklahoma.
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