September 9, 2017
Oklahoma, Opinions

McBride: Time for wind economic participation

By Mark McBride, Guest Columnist | The Journal Record | September 8, 2017 |

Oklahoma is where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain. But that wind has come with a price tag for Oklahoma taxpayers.

The state set a renewable energy goal calling for 15 percent of all electricity generated within the state by the year 2015 to come from renewable energy sources. To meet that goal, lawmakers instituted four wind tax credit programs – a 10-year zero emission tax credit, a 15-year investment tax credit, a five-year ad valorem tax exemption and a manufacturers sales tax exemption.

Today, 28 percent of the state’s electric power is generated from wind, and it’s time to put an end to government handouts and ensure the wind industry becomes a more productive part of the Oklahoma economy.

The Oklahoma Legislature has already taken great strides in reducing the wind industry’s dependence on government funds. We have ended the ad valorem exemption that forced Oklahoma taxpayers to foot the bill for property taxes owed by wind farms and terminated the zero-emission tax credit three years before its 2021 expiration date. The 15-year investment tax credit came to an end this year but payouts remain until 2032.

Those efforts were a good first step, but more work is needed. It is time to end the wind energy’s sales tax exemption, and it’s time to institute a production tax on the wind energy generated in Oklahoma.

The wind industry is the only industry not to pay a production tax when harnessing the state’s natural resources. The most prominent is the gross production tax levied on oil and natural gas, but other industries that benefit from Oklahoma’s bountiful resources, like mining of lead, gold or silver, all pay a production tax.

The energy created from the wind turbines that have proliferated on the Oklahoma horizon has a value and the only benefactor has been the international wind developers who have seized on generous government subsidies to build billion-dollar businesses.

It’s time for those companies to return the favor. It’s time to make them active participants in the Oklahoma economy.

State Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, is vice chairman of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

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