Wind group fights back on Oklahoma incentives with ad campaign

Source: By Paul Monies, The Oklahoman • Posted: Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The battle of the airwaves over Oklahoma wind is heating up, with American Wind Action releasing ads on Monday countering an earlier ad campaign by the anti-incentive Windfall Coalition.

The group plans to run ads on TV, radio and digital outlets for the rest of the month across the state. Calling it a “six-figure” ad buy, American Wind Action is targeting Harold Hamm, founder of Continental Resources Inc. and one of the backers of the Windfall Coalition. The ad also criticizes former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, who appears in one of the ads for the Windfall Coalition. Another ad features former University of Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer.

“Mr. Hamm and his political and celebrity friends are simply trying to protect their numerous and expensive tax incentives while tearing down the wind industry in the process,” said a joint statement from Sam Enfield and Jeff Clark, members of American Wind Action’s board of directors. “The truth is, wind power in Oklahoma creates jobs, lowers energy prices and builds a better economy. Increasing wind power is a bipartisan issue that has universal appeal among Oklahoma voters, which is why former Governor Frank Keating has thrown his lot in with Harold Hamm at the expense of Oklahoma’s farmers, ranchers and public schools.”

Incentives for the wind industry have been a top issue at the Legislature this year as lawmakers grapple with an estimated $878 million shortfall. Gov. Mary Fallin last month signed House Bill 2298, which essentially freezes the zero-emissions tax credit for new entrants July 1, more than three years ahead of its current sunset. Companies qualifying before July 1 will still be able to take the credit for up to 10 years. The earlier sunset won’t help out the fiscal year 2018 budget, but backers said it could save the state up to $500 million in the next 10 years.

The Windfall Coalition continues to fight that particular tax incentive, saying lawmakers should end it all together or at least cap it. The coalition also wants wind to be taxed, although lawmakers have been reluctant to take that step in this year’s session.