While an oil and gas group is in the midst of a billboard campaign against wind industry tax credits in Oklahoma, the American Wind Energy Association is out with a report showing that more than $10 million a year is paid by wind farm operators to Oklahoma ranchers and other rural landowners every year. It also claims that wind power saves an average 936 gallons of water per Oklahoma every year, creating another benefit for rural livelihoods that depend on significant use of freshwater to raise livestock and grow crops. The AWEA says 73 billion gallons of water were conserved as a result of wind power across the U.S. last year.
“Wind power greatly benefits rural Oklahoma communities, including some of the most economically distressed parts of the state,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “Wind farms pay over $10 million a year to Oklahoma farmers, ranchers and other rural landowners, helping them to make ends meet, send their kids to college, or even keep that 100-year old ranch in the family.”
He said the payments to Oklahomans by the wind industry could eventually top $17 million by 2030. Oklahoma now has more than 5,000 MW installed capacity, with more than 1,400 MW installed last year.
Nationally, wind farms pay $222 million a year to rural landowners and more than $156 million goes to landowners in counties with below average incomes.
Oklahoma ranks fourth nationally in lease payments from wind farm operators with Texas leading the nation followed by Iowa, California, Oklahoma, Illinois and Kansas.
“Oklahoma is perfectly positioned to be a leader in the emerging advanced energy economy,” said Jeff Clark, Executive Director of the Wind Coalition. He responded earlier to claims from Continental Resources founder Harold Hamm and others who contend the remaining tax credits for the wind farms in Oklahoma should be ended immediately. Clark told OK Energy Today that it’s time for the oil and gas industry to stop attacking the wind industry and start working together.
Read original report from American Wind Energy Association.