The Chisholm View wind farm near Hunter, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Legislature Considers Cutting a Wind Industry Tax Credit Spared During Last Year’s Negotiations on Incentives

  • Joe Wertz
The Chisholm View wind farm near Hunter, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Chisholm View wind farm near Hunter, Okla.

Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill in May 2015 ending a program that afforded many wind developers a five-year exemption on property taxes. The measure, Senate Bill 498, authored by Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, was projected to save the state $500 million over 10 years by sunsetting an ad valorem exemption on Jan. 1 2017.

In signing the bill — filed during a legislative session where incentives for the wind industry were the subject of frequent lawmaker scrutiny and strident negotiation from the wind industry — Fallin noted that wind developers “still would have millions of dollars in benefits from the zero-emission tax credit, tied to pollution-free energy.”

But that credit, too, now appears to be on the chopping block, as the state scrambles to patch a $1.3 billion budget gap, The Oklahoman’s Rick Green reports

Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said in a meeting with reporters Thursday that although that legislation is still under review, the credit needs a “haircut.”

“Some feel it probably needs a burr haircut, but some sort of haircut, yes,” Bingman said.

House Democratic Leader Scott Inman of Del City said the proposed moratorium on the zero emissions credit was a “bait and switch” for the wind industry, Green reports:

“We believe the folks in the wind industry basically had a bait and switch,” he said. “They were lied to in the sense they were told ‘If you’ll negotiate away one of your credits, we’ll protect your second.’ Well, all they did was kill one, and they’re coming back for the second one this year.”

Jeffrey Clark, executive director of The Wind Coalition, said lawmakers need “to be judicious with consideration of further cuts,” given that a report reviewing tax credits is due in December, Green reports.

The zero emissions credit is set to sunset, or end, in 2020 in any case, he said.

“We are on a path to be incentive-free in 2021,” Clark said.