KGOU

wind energy

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Senate has given unanimous approval to a pair of bills that will end two separate tax subsidies for the wind industry inOklahoma.

With no debate, the Senate on Friday approved one bill to eliminate a 5-year property tax exemption for wind manufacturers, starting in 2017. Because the state reimburses counties for the revenue lost from the exemption, the cost of the subsidy has skyrocketed with the expansion of wind farms in Oklahoma. It's expected to cost the state about $44 million in the current fiscal year.

The bill now heads to the House for consideration.

Oklahoma State Capitol
Joseph Novak / Flickr

There’s only about a month left in Oklahoma’s 2015 legislative session, and if bills haven’t made it out of the chamber they started in by now, they’re dead.

Bob Kerr on his ranch near Carnegie, Okla., which is flanked by turbines from the Blue Canyon Wind Farm.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Lawmakers have filed several measures targeting Oklahoma’s wind industry during the 2015 legislative session. The bills most likely to end up on the governor’s desk add regulation — like preventing new wind farms from being built near hospitals, schools and airports — and reduce wind energy tax credits.

Bob Kerr has lived on his Caddo County ranch for 43 years. The nearest tow, Carnegie, is home to about 1,700 people — a sprawling metropolis in southwestern Oklahoma

windmills
mtneer_man / Flickr

Legislation adding siting restrictions and reporting requirements to new wind energy developments passed a House committee Tuesday.

Senate Bill 808 is now the primary wind regulation bill for the 2015 legislative session, replacing the similarly worded House Bill 1549, Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, tells The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies:

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Measures that would modify tax incentives for future wind farms in Oklahoma have been approved by the state Senate.

The Senate passed two measures by Republican Sen. Mike Mazzei of Tulsa in separate 45-0 votes Tuesday and sent them to the House for consideration.

State budget officials have said generous tax incentives, credits and deductions granted over the years to stimulate business and industry in the state are one reason Oklahoma is facing a $611 million budget shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

A wind farm in Ellis County in western Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A bill that would reduce the amount of tax subsidies paid to wind producers in Oklahoma has been unanimously approved by the House of Representatives.

The House voted 89-0 on Monday for the bill by Bartlesville Republican Rep. Earl Sears. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

A wind farm in Ellis County in western Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

With wind energy production in full swing in Oklahoma, legislative leaders are looking to impose some new restrictions on the booming industry.

The Senate Energy Committee approved a bill Thursday by Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman to require planning for when wind farms are decommissioned and minimum distances from places like schools or airports. The bill also requires wind developers to provide certain public notice before the giant turbines can be erected.

A wind turbine under assembly near Balko in Oklahoma's Panhandle. When completed, the turbine will be part of D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments' 300-megawatt Balko Wind Project.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A bill to redefine public utilities in Oklahoma has been withdrawn amid concerns it would threaten plans for a major electricity transmission project connecting state wind farms to consumers in the South and on the East Coast.

Republican Rep. Todd Thomsen of Ada withdrew his bill from consideration after members of the House Utilities Committee complained it would threaten the Plains & Eastern Clean Line.

A wind farm outside of Woodward in northwestern Oklahoma.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

A bill adding new regulations on Oklahoma’s booming wind industry passed a House committee Tuesday. The proposed legislation would place limits on where companies can build new wind farms.

A wind turbine under assembly near Balko in Oklahoma's Panhandle. When completed, the turbine will be part of D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments' 300-megawatt Balko Wind Project.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The wind energy boom has largely evaded Oklahoma’s Panhandle, but new turbine projects and a proposal for a $2 billion transmission line could transform the prairie into a national wind energy hub.

But the projects are being planned amid uncertainty at the state Capitol, where tax credits for the wind industry are in the crosshairs.

FILLING IN THE TRANSMISSION GAP

Despite being one of the state’s richest sources of wind energy, the Oklahoma Panhandle is home to very few wind farms.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission will consider rules for the wind industry that outline proper procedures for landowner notification and turbine decommissioning, according to an order signed Tuesday.

U.S. Energy Information Agency

The U.S. is expected to have added about 5 gigawatts of wind-generated electricity capacity in 2014, estimates from the federal Energy Information Agency show. Officials expect even more growth — up to an additional 11 GW — in 2015, with most of the added capacity coming from five states: Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota.

A wind farm in Ellis County in western Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A federal agency says Oklahoma will likely see an increase in wind-generated electricity used to power homes.

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration says developers are planning to increase wind power capacity with projects primarily in Oklahoma, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Texas.

The Journal Record reports Oklahoma is expected to see an increase in total wind generating capacity by the spring of 2015. The state has 3,100 megawatts of wind power capacity. That number is expected to grow by 2,100 megawatts.

A wind farm in Ellis County in western Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Representative Earl Sears, is planning to file legislation modifying tax credits and incentives used by wind energy developers.

The legislation by Sears, R-Bartlesville, would only affect new wind projects and would target three tax credits used by the wind industry: Zero Emission Energy Generation, the five-year ad valorem exemption for manufacturers and other firms, and investment tax credits,  eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley reports:

NextEra Renewable Energy Resources' wind farm near Elk City, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The 2015 session is still months away, but the newly elected Oklahoma Legislature has already started talking about how to divvy up roughly $7 billion in state appropriations.

Some prominent lawmakers are promising to re-examine tax credits and economic incentives worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Some of those incentives are used for wind energy, which the industry says are working.

Big Wind

A wind farm outside of Woodward in northwestern Oklahoma.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission on Tuesday ended its four-month inquiry into wind energy development in Oklahoma. The examination could lead to new rules, though it’s not clear what they might be or which agency would enforce them.

The commission heard from vocal landowners for and against wind farms. Developers lauded the economic potential of Oklahoma’s wind, while conservationists and Indian tribes warned that, left unchecked, turbines would kill threatened bird species and ruin delicate grasslands.

Brian McNamara / Flickr.com

A southeastern Oklahoma wind farm is providing Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation with 150 megawatts of potential wind energy through a long-term power purchase agreement.

The wind power is being generated by the Origin Wind Farm in Murray and Carter Counties in southeast Oklahoma. The expected annual output from the 75 turbines on the 17,600 acre farm is 650,000 megawatt-hours, about enough energy to serve 50,000 homes. AECC is the sole recipient of the electricity generated by the wind farm.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The cost of producing and providing electricity generated by solar panels and wind turbines has plunged in recent years, and are on track to meet — and in some markets are already beating — the generation costs of conventional sources like coal and natural gas.

A wind farm in Ellis County in western Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A trade association says wind power saved electricity customers in Oklahoma and surrounding states more than $1.2 billion last year.

The Oklahoman reports that the American Wind Energy Association analyzed hourly data from the Southwest Power Pool in 2013 and calculated when wind turbines were used to generate electricity.

The pool operates the electric grid and plans transmission for 6.2 million households in parts of nine states.

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