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Agricultural News

Oklahoma Wind Industry Converges on State Capitol Touting $20 Billion Impact on Rural Communities

Wed, 28 Mar 2018 17:12:55 CDT

Oklahoma Wind Industry Converges on State Capitol Touting $20 Billion Impact on Rural Communities More than a hundred professionals from Oklahoma’s wind industry gathered at the State Capitol, Wednesday, to advocate for the industry itself and the benefits it has brought our state’s economy and citizens, particularly those living in rural areas. Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn was there at the Capitol to speak with stakeholders who turned out to talk with their state legislators and show support for wind projects in Oklahoma. You can listen to Horn’s full audio report on Wind Day at the Capitol, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.

“We’ve got a really good cross-section from the wind industry here at the Capitol today to educate lawmakers about the industry, the challenges we face and also the positive impacts that wind has now brought to the State of Oklahoma,” said Mark Yates, executive director of the Oklahoma Wind Coalition. “We’ve got landowners, we’ve got county commissioners, county assessors, school superintendents and a lot of corporate folks as well… So, just a good presence here at the Capital today.”

Yates explains that while the wind industry may not have a presence across the entire state, its economic impact from the revenue generated through taxes, landowner lease payments and job creation is felt and measurably so.

“No doubt. We’re in 26 counties today with over $20 billion of investment and now we see rural schools coming off the state aid formula in high numbers,” he said. “We also see $47 million a year going back to Oklahoma landowners, farmers and ranchers. So, although wind isn’t everywhere in the state, the 26 counties in which we’re invested - often we’re the top taxpayer in those counties. It’s been a tremendous economic impact, especially in rural areas of our state.”

Heath Herje, senior director of development at Tradewind Energy, backed up that claim saying proudly that wind energy has helped to keep many family farms operating thanks to the lease payments generated by many of the projects his company developed. In addition, he says the school systems in each of the communities which they are active in have benefitted from the ad valorem tax dollars tendered to local governments.

“Most of our superintendents, school boards, folks in those communities are really excited to see us coming because essentially when we pay those large amounts of ad valorem taxes over the years, it helps that school come off of state aid which frees up funding for other schools across the state that are not fortunate enough to have wind energy projects,” Herje said. “So, it’s really beneficial not only for those communities, but all schools across the state.”

Echoing Herje’s remarks, Superintendent of Garber Public Schools Will Jones says the tax dollars received from local wind projects have helped the district immensely, cushioning its annual budget and has even improved its bonding capacity.

“It’s insulated us from the volatile budget situation for schools in the state. We receive very little state aid,” he said. “We passed a bond issue for a new gym and band hall in 2014 and we just now passed another $5 million bond issue in February all because of our new wind farm out in Breckenridge. It’s had a huge impact for our school district and is definitely improving our school and putting a better education forward for our kids.”

According to literature distributed during Thursday’s events at the Capitol, Oklahoma’s wind industry has done the following for the state’s economy:

- Invested $20 billion into Oklahoma communities statewide

- Established Oklahoma as the state with the second most wind energy capacity in the US

- Produces 33 percent of all electricity in Oklahoma

- 97 percent of all wind energy generated in Oklahoma, stays in Oklahoma

- Wind is the No. 1 taxpayer in 14 of the 26 counties it is active in

- Pays $48 million per year in land leases to Oklahoma families

- Supports 62 school districts in 26 counties

- Oklahoma is now home to seven manufacturing companies that supply the wind industry

- Wind has created 9,000 direct and indirect jobs in Oklahoma

- Wind power saves Oklahoma customers $1.2 billion

- Oklahoma’s wind industry receives zero tax incentives for new projects



Hear Associate Farm Director Carson Horn report on Wind Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol, below.
right-click to download mp3


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