Library from Oklahoma
A State Appeals court recently upheld a lower court ruling that the telecommunications tower built on property near Ken Laubenstein’s home was a nuisance. ...But now some are wondering how the ruling might impact the state’s growing wind farms and possibly a lawsuit filed by landowners in Canadian and Kingfisher Counties against Apex Clean Energy Inc.
A senator from the windswept state of Oklahoma wants to remove a tax credit for wind energy from the tax code. ...Lankford contends the tax credit has outlived its usefulness and is a redundancy since 37 states already provide incentives for wind energy production. He said wind generation has grown 5,000 percent since the tax credit was instituted in 1992.
Wind developments in Osage County do not violate tribal mineral rights, according to a federal court ruling Wednesday, rejecting arguments from both the Osage Nation and the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The landowners filed the lawsuit a year ago, listing concerns about noise, ice shearing off turbine blades, shadow flicker and other complaints. DeGiusti allowed a claim of anticipatory nuisance to progress but dismissed a claim of anticipatory trespass earlier this summer.
The suit refers to the irreparable harm caused by nuisance and unavoidable negative health impacts caused to people by the noise, infrasound and shadow flicker generated by turbines. Research shows a negative impact to health for people within close proximity of a turbine.
The battle continues in Canadian and Kingfisher counties over the Kingfisher Wind Project. The project's construction, by APEX Clean Energy, was halted earlier this month because of a temporary restraining order filed by Merit Energy.
It comes down to whether TVA decides to step up its purchase of wind energy. Fracking has made natural gas abundant and cheap to burn in electric plants. Wind appears costly without tax breaks. But energy analysts figure gas prices eventually will rise. And long-term wind power contracts could lock in prices below the ultimate level gas reaches in a decade or more.
Tradewind is prepared to proceed with construction of Mustang Run even though an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling is still pending. Completion of the project in 2016 would allow it to receive some significant state tax credits that are scheduled to expire at the end of next year.
“They’re eating up the landscape,” he said. “They’re devouring our history and culture.” ...“We are pitiful and humble people, asking for your help,” Cameron Pratt prayed out loud, first in the Osage language and then in English, his voice nearly drowned out by the constant drone of the whirling blades. They sound like an aircraft passing high overhead, except the aircraft never flies away.
A U.S. district judge in Oklahoma, dismissed a claim of anticipatory trespass, but allowed a claim of anticipatory nuisance to progress against Kingfisher Wind LLC. ..."We're simply asking the court to hear the case soon before we lose the opportunity to protect our properties and families from being damaged by turbines that are planned too close to our homes."
Tax exemptions and tax credits for wind energy cost the state nearly $49 million last year. Left unchanged, the price tag would have reached $77 million by 2018, according to estimates from the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Wind developments, however, still qualify for Zero Emission Tax Credits, which drew some of the heaviest criticism from Mosier and other opponents of wind subsidies because they are “open-ended.”
Saying they had exhausted all attempts to work with Apex, members of the lawsuit are, in the words of a press relase, “seeking protection from adverse health effects, and loss of use and value of their property, by requiring wind turbines be placed two miles from their properties.” The press release issued by the Oklahoma Wind Action Association can be accessed by clicking the link on this page.
Senate Bill 498 by state Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, and Sears, signed May 20, repeals the ability of the wind industry to qualify for a five-year property tax exemption. This provides a good start in addressing the magnitude of industrial wind’s subsidies and negative impact on Oklahoma’s budget.
Under the deal, a five-year property tax exemption offered to wind farms would expire on Jan. 1, 2017, allowing time for several wind projects currently under construction to qualify for the credit. ...Because wind companies can qualify for the five-year exemption until 2017, the state won't realize a cost savings until after 2021.
Oklahoma may be the next state to remove incentives for renewable energy within the state. Senate Bill (SB) 498 would eliminate the state tax exemption for wind electricity manufacturers after 2016.
Rep. Earl Sears, a Republican and chairman of the House Budget Committee, thinks industry reform is needed. “We have to take a look at all of these credits we are handing out,” he recently said. “They’re costing the state $36 million to $40 million per year. And we’re glad that most think that reform in the industry is necessary.”
As expected, the Oklahoma House of Representatives voted 85-3 in favor of S.B.498, legislation that would eliminate the state's current property tax exemption for wind developers. S.B.498 - introduced by Rep. Earl Sears, R-District 11 - now heads to the Senate, which can either accept or reject the bill.
Under Senate Bill 498, the state would no longer offer a five-year property tax exemption for new wind energy developments. Existing wind facilities would keep the exemption. Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, one of the authors of the bill, said the legislation is needed because Oklahoma tax incentives for the wind power industry have grown more rapidly than intended.
In Oklahoma, state tax incentives for wind energy have been targeted by the Legislature as it grapples with a budget shortfall. Discussions continue at the Capitol about ending a five-year property tax exemption for new wind development, but keeping a half-cent per kilowatt-hour tax credit in place.
According to Sears, the bill reduces the wind energy tax credit to one-fifth of a cent per kilowatt hour for new wind power facilities starting in 2016 and would end the credit in 2025. The current structure of the tax incentive is that the industry receives a half of a cent per kilowatt hour.