Lawmakers Discuss Increasing Taxes On The Wind Industry
OKLAHOMA CITY - The State House of Representatives is close to a deal on taxing the wind industry. It’s an agreement that republicans and democrats seem to be on board with, and it’s a story you’ll only see on News9.
Lawmakers have been considering ways to increase taxes on the wind industry for months. Now they may have a plan that leaders say can get the 76 bipartisan supermajority vote needed in the House of Representatives to pass a new tax.
The plan that will be presented to state representatives Monday includes a one dollar per megawatt hour gross production tax on wind generation. That would tax the wind industry in a way that’s similar to the oil and natural gas industry.
“It would be on future wind projects. It would be one dollar per megawatt hour.” Said Representative John Echols (R) Majority Floor Leader “It would be an increasing revenue stream”.
Increasing, in that as more windmills are built more revenue comes into state coffers.
“Where oil and gas pays heavy into the general revenue fund and very little into the local community wind is the exact opposite. However when oil and gas decline, and there will be another cycle, it’s going to happen, wind and renewables are going to continue to increase.” Echols said.
Right now wind energy pays what are called ad valorem taxes; that is, property taxes that are paid locally and the state gets very little revenue. That would change under this bill. Wind energy producers say they’re on board as long as the new tax only applies only to new windmills not existing projects.
“Any retroactivity to claw back on already granted incentives to the wind industry that entice investment here is the worst case scenario not just for the wind industry but for the state of Oklahoma.” Said Mark Yates of the Oklahoma Wind Coalition.
“This will apply to all projects on a going forward basis so all new projects, and when projects sigh a new power purchase agreement.” Echols assured us, “One of the things we heard during the walkout was they want legislators thinking long term. And that’s what this is. This is a long term solution.”
This bill would replace senate bill 888, which would stop the state from writing tax refund checks to wind energy. The industry says those checks are crucial to securing loans for projects. But house leaders say if the new plan fails they will run senate bill 888, and they only need a simple majority vote to pass it because it isn’t a new tax.