Lawmaker to Propose Legislation Changing Tax Incentives for New Wind Farms

  • Joe Wertz
The 147-megawatt Weatherford Wind Energy Center.

Travel Aficionado / Flickr

The 147-megawatt Weatherford Wind Energy Center.

Oklahoma Representative Earl Sears, is planning to file legislation modifying tax credits and incentives used by wind energy developers.

The legislation by Sears, R-Bartlesville, would only affect new wind projects and would target three tax credits used by the wind industry: Zero Emission Energy Generation, the five-year ad valorem exemption for manufacturers and other firms, and investment tax credits, eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley reports:

“In my opinion,” said Sears, R-Bartlesville, “those tax credits are very lucrative and must be reviewed on behalf of the taxpayers.”

Sears, who will lead the high-profile House Appropriations Committee in 2015, says the tax credit examination is one of his top priorities for the legislative session. The wind industry says the tax credits are working, and say they often tip the balance in Oklahoma’s favor when developers are siting projects in states with comparable wind-power potential, including Kansas, Nebraska and Texas.

Jeffrey Clark with The Wind Coalition, a wind industry group, told eCapitol wind developers recognize that current incentives need to be reviewed:

“We are working with lawmakers, and a number will file legislation, and we are willing to work with anyone and everyone to relieve the anxiety associated with the current tax credits and helps keep Oklahoma competitive.”

Sears was the House sponsor of a 2014 measure, Senate Bill 1440, which would have imposed a moratorium on new wind energy projects in northeastern Oklahoma, where resistance to wind farms has been particularly fierce. That legislation was shelved.

Other legislation or rules regulating wind farm siting, landowner notification and turbine decomissioning could also be considered.