A deal on taxing wind energy we first reported on last week has died, and lawmakers have since passed a more controversial wind energy bill.
Last week House Majority Leader John Echols (R) told us republicans and democrats had reached a deal to tax wind energy based on output, similar to the way oil and natural gas are taxed. Even wind energy companies were on board, but that plan fell through because there weren’t enough votes to pass it.
The House passed a bill to remove the tax rebate wind energy currently gets. Opponents say backers crumbled to big oil, “Because that’s who runs this building is the oil and gas,” said Representative Matt Meredith (D) Tahlequah.
Senate Bill 888 would end the roughly 70-million refund wind energy gets each year from the state.
Backers say it’s not fair that the state writes that check every year when the industry pays so little in state taxes.
Opponents of the bill say, good or bad, that’s the deal the legislature signed on to.
“And if we now default on our legal agreement we will most definitely be facing not only a lawsuit but potentially facing a lawsuit that asks for damages in addition to the reversal of our decision,” said Representative Meloyde Blancett (D) Tulsa.
Representative Kevin Calvey (R) Edmond replied, “No. The legislature absolutely can do this. They can eliminate the refundability of a tax credit no problem”
The wind industry says the bill will hurt business because a lot of projects rely on the refund and could default on their loans. The bill passes now heads to the senate.