The wind industry receives at least $193 million in state tax incentives each year in Oklahoma, a group wanting additional regulations on future wind developments said Monday.
The Oklahoma Property Rights Association, led by Claremore businessman Frank Robson, said state lawmakers are “writing a blank check” to the wind industry with the incentives. Robson said the wind industry is taking revenue from the state budget that could be spent on schools and other services.
“While renewable energy plays an important role, the true success of an industry is measured by its ability to produce a profit without government subsidies,” Robson said. “At a minimum, its success shouldn’t come at the expense of our children’s education.”
The association said it used a wind industry report released in March to calculate its estimates for the incentives. The Wind Coalition said the industry invested more than $6.1 billion in Oklahoma in development and construction in the last decade.
Representatives from the wind industry said Oklahoma competes against its neighbors Texas and Kansas for developments. Those states also offer incentives to wind developers and utilities.
Curt Roggow, Oklahoma director for The Wind Coalition, said the coalition’s study was done by a third-party consulting group, Economic Impact Group LLC. He said Oklahoma’s tax incentives have helped spur development in the state.
“The incentives were a success for bringing in $6 billion of investment into the state of Oklahoma,” Roggow said. “The life of a wind farm goes several years beyond the limited incentives the state offers.” Roggow said.
Wind developers can qualify for several state tax incentives, some of which are available to other industries, too. The Oklahoma Property Rights Association examined three programs: zero-emissions tax credits; investment tax credits; and the ad valorem property tax exemption.
The association said wind developers could qualify for up to $88 million annually from the zero-emissions tax credit, which allows a credit of 0.5 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity generated for up to 10 years. The tax credit used to be transferable, but lawmakers made it refundable starting in 2014, greatly enhancing its benefit to the industry.