Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall has good reason to be slightly anxious about the bill passed by the Senate in recent days and sent to Gov. Mary Fallin.
He is the author of House Bill 2298, the one that ends income tax credits for wind production more than three years ago.
At an end-of-the week news conference, he said he was “very excited that the zero-emission tax credit bill passed through the Senate and is on the Governor’s desk.”
He said it was “very important” that the bill was approved with the new date of July 1 on which tax credits would end on the wind industry. Current law allows wind farm operators to claim the credit on wind turbines that started operation before 2021. But the new bill brings an early end to the credits.
“That ultimately, we believe, saves the state of Oklahoma $500 million, but still preserves all the payments for the projects that have qualified,” said Rep. McCall. “We could not have passed this piece of legislation without the support of the majority of the wind industry. I want to thank them very much.”
The Oklahoma Tax Commission had indicated the credit had cost the state $65 million a year in unpaid tax revenue. However, if the governor signs HB2298 into law, the potential increase in tax collections won’t occur until the 2028 budget year.
While the wind industry cooperated with the legislature in the move, it also felt other energy industries should do the same.
“We remain the first and only industry to offer to phase out its incentives,” said Jeffrey Clark, president of the Wind Coalition. “I hope other industries will follow the example we set.”
But others still believe the wind industry should be taxed. Cliff Branan, executive director of the Windfall Coalition is one of them.
“There is still more work to be done to ensure wind is on equal footing with other energy sources in Oklahoma rather than draining our state’s coffers,” he said recently.
And State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones recently called for a 5% gross production tax on wind.
Listen to Speaker McCall’s recent comments about the wind tax credit bill.