Wind Coalition Fires Back At 'Step Up Oklahoma'
OKLAHOMA CITY - The wind industry is firing back at “Step Up Oklahoma”, just days after negotiations over taxes broke down.
Step Up Oklahoma is the group of civic and business leaders working with lawmakers to increase certain taxes and reform state government to develop a more stable revenue stream.
Wind industry officials say they just want their side of the story heard. But that ended quickly.
“The speaker asked me to come in here and stop it right now. You need move to another location please,” said a house sergeant at arms as he put an abrupt end to a press conference held by the wind industry.
The House Speaker’s office later released a statement saying, “The Speaker’s Office did not ask the House Sergeants to remove anyone from the House Lounge. The issue was brought up by a member of the House, and a House administrator asked the House Sergeants to enforce the House policy.”
That policy says the lawmaker who reserved the room had to be present, and he wasn’t.
Before the press conference ended though, reps from the wind industry said they’ve tried to work with the legislature.
“So we have brought viable options to the group, that have been rejected as you saw on Friday. It appears that they have broken away dialog with us moving forward on those,” said Mark Yates of The Wind Coalition.
The industry says what is being asked of them: A one dollar per megawatt hour charge on top of property taxes they already pay and Cap on incentives given to existing projects, puts their taxes much higher than oil and gas companies pay.
“Eliminating or capping them at such a low rate it could literally jeopardize the financing on these projects,” Yates said.
But lawmakers say tax credits put in place years ago were too generous.
“Frankly it’s irresponsible to pass a tax credit without a cap. So that’s one of the things we’re talking about. The way we should have done it from the beginning,” said Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, “Wind last year, we paid over 100-million dollars to out of state entities. That is cash paid out by the state. At the moment, we just simply can’t afford it.”