Library filed under Taxes & Subsidies from Oklahoma
Pending litigation over the property tax obligations of Rock Falls Wind Project in Grant and Kay counties could set dramatic new precedents and fundamentally change the way wind-energy projects are incentivized in Oklahoma.
Texas dealt a potential death blow to what would be the largest-ever U.S. wind farm: American Electric Power Co.’s $4.5 billion Wind Catcher project. ...“The costs are known,” DeAnn Walker, chairman of the Texas commission, said Thursday at a hearing. “But the benefits are based on a lot of assumptions that are questionable.”
AEP's plan to build the largest wind farm in the United States might have been dealt a fatal blow. The Public Utility Commission of Texas voted Thursday to reject the proposed 2,000-megawatt Wind Catcher wind farm, stating that as it is structured now, the project doesn't offer clear enough benefits for rate payers.
With SB 888 failing to advance Monday, lawmakers committed to ending the wind tax credit refundability could turn their attention to HB 3716, a bill that surfaced Friday. HB 3716 eliminates the refundability but allows companies to retain the credits for 20 years to decrease their Oklahoma tax liabilities.
Senate Bill 888 would not abolish zero emission tax credits, but would make them no longer refundable. That means wind companies could still use the income tax credits to offset taxes they might owe. However, once that tax liability goes down to zero, they would no longer be able to turn the remaining tax credits back to the Tax Commission and receive 85 cents on the dollar from the state treasury.
SB 888 eliminates the refundability of tax credits for renewable energy generation. The state stopped issuing new credits several years ago, and the state is already scheduled to phase out the program altogether by 2027. Zeroing out the refundability feature could save the state as much as $750 million from 2020, when SB 888 takes effect, until 2027, Coody said.
What is known so far is that the deal would place a $1 per megawatt hour tax on the production of wind energy, but only for new projects. The proposal also will include what's been dubbed "section nine," a guarantee that the gross production tax will expire if a future Legislature tries to eliminate or cap the industry's incentives.
"If we don't do something truly meaningful this session, not next session, another $70 million is literally going to be gone with the wind," Brecheen said. The senator said the bill would end corporate welfare payments, not by eliminating the tax credit, but by eliminating the refundability aspect of it.
Giving teachers in Oklahoma a raise is past due. WindWaste was established on the premise that more funding for education was critical, and the industry that has profited most in recent years from Oklahoma subsidies should contribute.
If the state has been reimbursing county school districts for wind’s ad valorem taxes, then this has not expanded the total funds to school districts at all; it has just forced the state to transfer dollars from the General Revenue Fund that otherwise would have been earmarked for school districts across the state to those rural districts near wind facilities. Robbing Peter to pay Paul does nothing to help education.
Legislative panels on Thursday passed House Bill 3710, which would put a $35 million cap on the zero emission tax credit. Last year, lawmakers decided to sunset the tax credit in 10 years for new production. The clock began ticking July 1.
Two bills, one in the House and another in the Senate, have proposed capping the state's zero emission tax credit. In 2016, Oklahoma paid $74 million in zero emission tax credits, which the legislature is proposing to cap at $5 million or $10 million.
Yates said the legislators don’t understand that the tax credits were built into the business models when the wind industry companies won state approval to build wind farms in Oklahoma. “These projects are not profitable for the first 12 years of existence,” he explained. The Wind Coalition leader said for the state to go back and change the rules “of the game so dramatically after these projects are already up and spinning, the investment is there and now to go back in and change is devastating.”
McBride is proposing a $1 per megawatt hour tax on wind power, as well as eliminating the industry’s manufacturing sales tax exemption. Other lawmakers want to cap incentives already awarded to existing projects. After 20 years, McBride said it’s time to stop subsidizing the wind industry.
Wind energy advocates are speaking out as lawmakers confirm one piece of their proposed budget plan includes placing a gross production tax on wind energy. The tax could be 4 percent for 36 months and 7 percent after that.
Oklahoma paid nearly $143 million in subsidies to wind companies in 2015, between property tax reimbursements and the zero-emission tax credit, according to a study released this week.
A $4.5 billion wind farm and transmission line announced last week by Public Service Co. of Oklahoma and a sister utility needs a quick answer from Oklahoma regulators so the project can fully qualify for federal tax credits for renewable energy.
[T]he initial assessment for their property was valued at around $187 million which the company is required to pay taxes on to the county. Following an informal protest a second assessment to about $177 million. Now the company is asking for the value to be lowered to around $60 million. ...The Excise Board ruled against Taloga Wind and upheld the second assessment.
Events in Oklahoma have raised concerns over states’ readiness to continue subsidy support in an era of budget cutbacks and fiscal constraints, while potential trouble is also brewing in California, Iowa and Texas, suggesting that the industry’s ability to lobby effectively on crucial issues will soon be put to the test.
A simple way to make up some of that shortfall is for wind developers to pay sales tax on their purchases, just like nearly everyone else in Oklahoma. Each new wind turbine, which is manufactured somewhere else and shipped into Oklahoma, could net the state about $90,000 in sales tax revenue.