As 2016 draw to a close, decision makers in Oklahoma continue to grapple with state budget issues. Those discussions include looking closely at all areas of state government, including Oklahoma’s tax credits that help boost wind projects across the state. During these discussions, it is important that Oklahomans and their leaders keep in mind just how beneficial wind projects have become to the state.
In late November, PACE released a new report that outlines the various benefits of the wind industry to Oklahoma. The report, titled Oklahoma Depends on Wind, explains that wind power in Oklahoma is set to save electricity rate payers nearly $2 billion, help stabilize power prices in the long term, and has created more than 7,000 jobs in the state. Those are obviously huge benefits worth noting.
PACE first became involved in discussions over Oklahoma’s support of the wind industry back in April of this year. Similar to the current situation, state decision makers at that time were considering eliminating state support for the commercial wind industry. Oklahoma today ranks fourth nationally in wind power production and gets about a sixth of its electricity generation from wind power. We have continued to argue that wind projects in Oklahoma generate far more benefits than costs.
In fact, the wind industry in Oklahoma returns far more benefits to consumers and local governments than it costs taxpayers. State support of Oklahoma’s wind industry is a win-win for the industry and the state’s citizens alike and helps the region at large cope with federal rules that limit emissions.
Just as important, wind projects in Oklahoma will generate a billion dollars in ad valorem tax revenue and will create another $1.2 billion for Oklahoma’s school districts. This important revenue stream helps support local Oklahoma communities, returning far more benefits than it costs state taxpayers. Our report includes an appendix that lists estimated tax revenue from wind for every Oklahoma county that is home to wind projects.
“In the larger picture, Oklahoma’s support of its wind industry is a good investment for government and a win for customers,” explained PACE Executive Director Lance Brown in late November. “We are recommending to state lawmakers that they allow the state’s support to run its course without prematurely pulling the plug on this net benefit for Oklahoma.”
As this year ends and a new legislative session begins to approach, our hope is that discussions about the state budget take into full account the benefits brought by Oklahoma’s investment in wind. Preserving the state’s tax support for wind projects is an important part of keeping Oklahoma growing.