By a vote of 74-24, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a legislative measure to sunset the zero-emissions tax credit for the wind energy industry.
House Bill 2298 – a leadership bill authored by Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) – imposes a deadline of July 1, 2017 for operational facilities to qualify for the tax credit. The previous deadline was January 1, 2021.
Opponents of the bill debated on the House floor for over an hour as they probed why the wind energy tax credit was subject to sunset while the oil and gas industry tax credits remained in place.
“It’s hard to compare the amount of money oil and gas puts in the economy and the taxes they pay to the amount of money wind puts in the economy,” said Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City), who presented the bill. “Oil and gas is just light years above.”
Minority Leader Scott Inman (D-Del City) led the debate against the bill. While acknowledging that the credit should be reworked, Inman pointed out that companies, bankers and many others have already invested millions of dollars into wind industry projects currently under construction in rural Oklahoma. Inman contended if House Bill 2298 was passed, it could send a chilling message to business and industry that the State of Oklahoma will not honor its commitments.
“This is the wrong cap,” said Inman. “It takes six months to a year to get a project up and going.”
The bill advances to the Senate for consideration.