Wind Coalition Responds to Yet Another Misleading OIPA Op-Ed

More misleading op-eds from OIPA in Oklahoma.  Using wind as a diversion to avoid scrutiny of oil and gas tax credits has become OIPA’s primary strategy.  The Wind Coalition supports all energy producers and, in fact, Wind Coalition members are some of Oklahoma’s largest natural gas purchasers.  But, The Wind Coalition will not sit idly when repeatedly and falsely attacked by other industries.

Wind Coalition President Jeff Clark responds:

“As usual, Mr. Wigley can’t put pen to paper without twisting the facts about wind energy in Oklahoma.  (Does anyone remember the days long ago when OIPA was a respected oil and gas advocacy group rather than an anti-wind mouthpiece?)

“According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Oklahoma has the cheapest electric rates in the country, in large part because of its use of wind energy – a natural complement to the state’s natural gas. The two should be working together, but Tim’s group is working hard to stop wind energy, a move that will keep the state hooked on imported coal instead of a cleaner, cheaper, locally sourced mix of renewables and gas. Indeed, their anti-wind strategy is preventing the transition to gas and renewables, hurting their own potential market growth.

“Wind is working for Oklahoma.  Wind continues to invest in the state, pays ad valorem taxes to schools that oil and gas companies do not, and wind investments are guaranteed long term contributors to the communities in which they are built.  You can count on wind. With the boom/bust cycle that afflicts the oil and gas industry, isn’t it nice to know that thanks to long term power contracts wind investments can pay for decades?  It’s also smart for the state to diversify its industries and wind helps there.  Do you remember something about too many eggs in one basket?  Tim’s basket apparently only has room for his egg.

“I will make the invitation again, Tim.  Come visit wind communities with me and see how their schools are funded, talk to the wind farm landowners getting paid for the use of their land, and meet the county officials thrilled to have new, reliable, long-term economic development.  Or, just visit any school in Oklahoma that has more state formula funding available because wind communities have been able to raise local tax revenue with wind projects and remove themselves from state formula funding.

“You want to talk subsidies?  Let’s remember that wind came to the legislature in 2014 and offered to phase out its three tax incentives.  The Investment Tax Credit, the Ad Valorem Exemption and the Zero Emission Tax Credit have all ended.  No new projects qualify for any of these.  In the same time period, tax incentives reducing the gross production tax paid by oil and gas have expanded – and now make Oklahoma’s GPT one of the lowest in the country. Take the log out of your own eye.

“Instead of looking at his own industry’s tax breaks, Tim has a solution and – as usual – only wind contributes.  He wants to cap or limit tax incentives already granted to investors in Oklahoma.  What does that mean?  It means that Oklahoma would not honor a commitment already made to investors.  It means back-stabbing the industries bringing billions of dollars of investment to the state.  It means sending a message to the rest of the world that Oklahoma is not a stable or safe place to invest.  And, it’s important to note that many of those investors are active in oil and gas as well.  The impact on Oklahoma’s business reputation would be enormous.

“The anti-wind mouthpieces also want to raise the sales tax on wind equipment that is bought for placement on Oklahoma wind farms – the equipment that local communities then tax to raise property tax revenue. He wants to eliminate the “manufacturers sales tax exemption” that is shared by many capital-intensive industries and encourages companies to guide their investments to the state. It’s a good program and it grows the local tax base, increasing recurring property tax payments dramatically. More importantly, oil and gas companies use it too, so is it any surprise that they only want to end it for wind? Why not end it for oil and gas as well, especially when oil and gas uses the program more than three times as much as renewable energy.

“Tim and the anti-wind crowd at OIPA will risk the business reputation of Oklahoma to satisfy their selfish political agenda.  Hypocritical and almost funny, especially when it was OIPA whining the loudest about harming the investment climate and the state’s business reputation when changes to their own incentives were proposed last year.

“Windy Tim and OIPA have a strategy.  They know that if they can convince the public that wind energy investments are creating the state’s revenue problems – if they can keep lawmakers confused on the facts about wind – maybe prying eyes will not look at the cost of the subsidies their industry enjoys. Wind is doing great things for Oklahoma with a solid track record of investment and a bright future. Wind has come to the table and ended its incentives.  Maybe it is time for OIPA to step up too.”