Frank Keating recently exhibited a great deal of courage.
Our former governor wrote in a Feb. 24 column in the Tulsa World that is was a mistake for him to sign legislation in 2001 that established the zero-emissions tax credit.
The credit was supposed to cost Oklahoma less than $2 million a year, Keating wrote, but a coming boom in wind farm construction by developers looking to take advantage of available subsidies could cost the state more than $5 billion.
It is uncommon for elected officials to offer mea culpas, even if there is clear consensus on the issue.
The issue of wind subsidies in Oklahoma could not be any clearer.
The cost of wind credits and exemptions to bolster wind farm construction has been rising steadily as nearly 3,400 turbines had been installed by the end of 2016, leaving our state government struggling to collect enough revenue to fund essential services.
Wind has been the largest recipient of property tax exemptions for manufacturing since 2011, while claims for tax credits for electricity from zero-emission facilities like wind farms grew to more than $113 million in 2014.
A consultant hired by the state’s Incentive Review Commission has recommended ending the production tax credit in 2018, rather than 2020, but sooner would be better for the Sooner State.
Our state can’t afford to keep making this mistake.
It is time to end subsidies for wind developers who are selling Oklahoma wind power to out-of-state customers with zero benefit to our state.
Oklahoma has exceeded its stated goal of getting enough renewable energy capacity to meet 15 percent of its electricity needs. There is no reason for us to continue subsidizing wind energy bound for customers in other states.
The wind industry already receives a production tax credit from the federal government that runs through the end of 2019.
It’s time for the wind industry to stand on its own, so Oklahoma can turn its attention to funding core services like education, health care and infrastructure improvements again.
Thank you, Frank Keating, for standing up for what is right for Oklahoma.
Cliff Branan is executive director of the Windfall Coalition, whose aim is to end all wind subsidies in Oklahoma.
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