OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation targeting a state tax credit used almost exclusively by Oklahoma’s burgeoning wind industry advanced from a House subcommittee on Wednesday despite concerns about its impact.
House Bill 1300, by Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, ends accumulation of new credits for zero-emission electric generation July 1 and caps annual payments for existing credits at $15 million a year.
New credits are already scheduled to end in 2021, but that’s not fast enough for lawmakers looking for a third year in a row at less general revenue to appropriate.
“There’s no question wind has a place in this great state, and has a place in the energy sector,” Sears said. “What is at hand, we absolutely have to have serious discussion about credits for wind.”
Sears said he expects revisions to the bill before it gets a final vote.
The credit is .5 cent per kilowatt hour of electricity generated by zero emission facilities, and can be carried forward for as much as 10 years.
Credits earned before 2014 are transferable – meaning they can be sold or bartered – and those earned after 2014 are refundable, meaning they can be used to turn a tax liability into a refund.
When the credit was adopted in 2002, Oklahoma had no wind farms. Today it generates almost 20 percent of its electricity from wind, causing some lawmakers to say it no longer needs help.
“I believe the wind industry has done much better than we thought they could do, maybe than even they thought they could do,” said Rep. Weldon Watson, R-Tulsa.
But it isn’t just lawmakers trying to make a budget who want to curb the wind credits. A coalition of oil and gas producers are pushing legislators to act.
Sears said HB 1300 is the first of several wind-related bills lawmakers will see this session.
Wednesday, Rep. Colin Walke, D-Oklahoma City, asked Sears whether the reexamination of energy industry incentives would include another look at oil and gas severance taxes.
“There are none that I’m aware of,” Sears said.
Walke asked how the accelerated sunset of the credit might affect planned wind farms.
“I’m sure impact them,” Sears said. “When I get that call from them, I’ll tell them we’re having the same issue in state government.”
Also advancing Wednesday was HB 1515 by Rep. Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette, which would allow owners to register their vehicles for more than one year at a time, and HB 1013, also by Cockroft, which would allow nurse practitioners and advance practice registered nurses to practice independently of a physician.
HB 1105, by Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, allows for the retention of human tissue for the training of cadaver dogs.
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