Oklahoma wind is infinite and affordable, and we should be proud of the fact that we have quickly become a national leader in embracing and monetizing this tremendous natural resource. The wind energy industry was attracted to our state about 15 years ago, and since then, has invested more than $12 billion turning our wind into electricity, and, more importantly, wealth.
Unfortunately, some members of the anti-renewable lobby have teamed up with some of our state legislators to attack this vibrant industry that contributes immeasurably to Oklahoma’s economic outlook. It’s time to set the record straight on the rampant misinformation being circulated about wind energy.
As executive director of the Enid Regional Development Alliance, my job is to do what’s best for Oklahomans in my area. I have seen the positive impacts wind energy brings to our region. We have more than $1 billion worth of wind projects operating in the Enid area, and more are on the horizon. Oklahoma wind pays in excess of $22 million annually to Oklahoma landowners, and these numbers are growing every day. In Garfield County alone, the annual landowner payments bring in as much wealth as an employer hiring 200 people at our county average wage.
During a time when state budgets are historically tight and schools are starved for resources, wind energy has moved into communities in my area and saved them. This industry is projected to contribute more than $1.2 billion in property taxes through 2043, and those are dollars that directly fund local schools and communities. As sure as the wind blows, our schools need the reliability of wind energy’s steady tax dollars during times like these.
One of the most common misunderstandings I hear about wind relates to tax incentives. To be clear: There are no remaining wind energy state tax incentives offered in Oklahoma. And despite the fact this industry only came to Oklahoma about 15 years ago, it’s already paying taxes on par with decades-old industries.
Wind energy has often been a leader at the Capitol’s negotiation table, but the industry’s contributions and sacrifices are continually forgotten as special interests and some legislators prioritize their own needs. Even though wind energy has none of its own state tax incentives, these anti-wind forces want to hurt the industry even further. Specifically, they’d like to single wind out so the industry doesn’t qualify for the state’s manufacturing sales tax exemption, an exemption that benefits every other manufacturing industry.
Oklahomans are fair people, and it’s important we keep the playing field level. As a champion for Oklahoma economic development, I’m pro-energy and, more important, pro-business. I want to encourage investment rather than sending it to other states at our own peril. I want what’s best for my state, and I want our elected officials to work for what’s best, too.
Commentary by: Brent Kisling
Published by: The Oklahoman