Okies, Too, Learn Renewable Energy Subsidies No Longer Affordable

Oklahoma has produced more wind energy per capita than just about any place else but the costs of the renewable energy subsidies are wholly unsustainable.

Oklahoma is the nation’s second largest wind generator, behind Texas. Last year, Oklahoma generated 31.3 percent of its electricity from wind, nearly double the share of Texas’s wind production and three times wind’s national share. It got there by giving the wind industry lucrative incentives—a 5-year exemption from local property taxes and a tax credit for zero emissions electricity generation.

Fifteen years after these incentives were created, Oklahoma is faced with a massive state budget crisis that has led the state to phase out key tax incentives for wind. Oklahoma’s zero emission tax credit for wind expired in July 2017, which means that the state incentive is no longer available for new wind facilities. The five-year property tax exemption for wind was also ended.

In May 2016, Oklahoma had to borrow $5 million from other funds to pay refunds due to corporations that month, including $3.3 million in zero emission credits to wind companies.

Oklahoma’s zero emissions subsidy for wind production is a 10-year tax credit of 0.5-cents per kilowatt hour generated. According to preliminary estimates from the Tax Committee, the subsidy for wind production was nearly $74 million in 2016. Another source estimates it at $88.2 million in 2016, increasing to $133.8 million in 2017.

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