Wind Coalition Response to OIPA Op-Ed Attacking Wind Energy in Oklahoma

In response to a series of misleading op-eds, The Wind Coalition released the following:

Anti-Wind Groups Hurt Schools, Economy and Themselves
By Jeffrey Clark, President – The Wind Coalition

Over the years, groups lobbying against wind energy in Oklahoma have acted as though their political influence gives them license to attack without being held to common standards of accuracy and consistency.  In my opinion, recent attacks on wind energy by the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association (OIPA) missed the mark again.

On tax incentives, OIPA has never missed the opportunity to defend incentives lowering their members’ tax burden.  Now, blinded by the log in their own eye, they’re pointing a finger, diverting attention to the wind energy industry.  They argue that tax incentives support their industry, keeping it focused on growing in Oklahoma and keeping the state competitive against rivals.  For wind, the same is true.  Despite this, while OIPA was backing incentives for themselves, the wind energy industry was working with lawmakers to end the state tax incentives that have encouraged wind development.  In 2013, there were three tax incentives specific to wind.  Now there is one, and it expires at the end of 2020.  Would OIPA like to follow our lead?

OIPA talks about the production tax they pay but never about the property tax burden the wind industry bears.  OIPA doesn’t pay the same.  “In lieu of” this property tax, most of their taxes are paid at the state level while wind projects pay taxes locally, including to schools.  More than $1 billion in new funding for public education will be enjoyed by Oklahoma schools thanks to wind investments and multiple analyses have shown these benefits much more than offset the cost of state incentives.

Oklahoma’s natural gas and wind work well together.  OIPA wrongly claims that wind is hurting natural gas markets but research, including some publicized by the natural gas industry itself, has shown that natural gas and renewables are “highly complementary.”  Each energy type has unique, beneficial attributes and, when paired together, provide high reliability, affordability, and reduced emissions.  The Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that utilities will continue to benefit by switching from coal to natural gas and renewables.  Utilities need generation diversity.  That’s why some of the same companies investing in Oklahoma wind are building natural gas power plants and are among the state’s largest natural gas purchasers.

On wind exports, OIPA misleads again. Their members happily accept Oklahoma tax incentives while extolling the benefits of exporting energy to the world.  Yet, on wind, they’re inconsistency speaks volumes.  As they know –  for both industries – capital investment, jobs, taxes, and royalties benefit Oklahomans regardless of where the power is used.  OIPA claims a “vast majority” of wind power is exported but, in fact, the vast majority is used within the state and the regional Southwest Power Pool (SPP).  OIPA even incorrectly claims that Dallas uses Oklahoma wind, knowing that Dallas uses Texas wind and relies upon a different grid altogether.

The future of American energy will likely be driven by natural gas and renewable energy and Oklahoma can be a national leader if it chooses to be.  If OIPA were pro-Oklahoma energy, they’d grow natural gas use by leveraging the synergies that exist between the state’s natural gas and renewable energy.  Unfortunately, their focus on attacking wind keeps the state addicted to imported coal and, ironically, costs them new opportunities to expand natural gas markets.

Perhaps, someday, OIPA will return to oil and gas advocacy instead of serving as an anti-wind front group.  Until then, lawmakers should ask OIPA to back up their statements with data, and perhaps follow wind’s lead to the negotiating table.