There is a debate raging right now in Oklahoma between oil company executives and the wind companies. Apparently, the folks behind one of the most-subsidized industries in Oklahoma doesn’t like it when competing industries get tax breaks.
Via the oil energy-run media outlet known as The Oklahoman:
Some oil and gas executives, including Continental Resources’ Harold Hamm, are embarking on a campaign to end Oklahoma’s tax incentives for wind generation, saying the state can’t afford to subsidize a now-established industry as it faces a $1.3 billion shortfall.
The group, which calls itself the Windfall Coalition, said ending the state tax incentives and instituting a production tax credit for wind would level the playing field and spur more natural gas use by utilities for electricity generation.
Oklahoma added more than 1,400 megawatts of wind capacity in 2015. The state remained in fourth place among states for wind capacity, with 5,184 megawatts. Almost 700 megawatts are under construction in Oklahoma, the American Wind Energy Association said in its latest market report. Oklahoma now gets about 17 percent of its electricity from wind.
Hamm said he got interested in tax incentives for wind generation after talking to a friend, Frank Robson, a Claremore businessman who has helped organize the Oklahoma Property Rights Association and WindWaste. Those two groups have worked the past several years to end the state tax credits and put restrictions on the siting of wind turbines.
I don’t blame Uncle Hamm for taking this stance. He wants the oil industry to have an advantage over wind, and taking away tax incentives from industries that turn moving air into energy will make them less profitable and appealing. That’s not only good for Uncle Hamm, but good for Oklahoma, too. As we know, natural gas is infinite and will never ever run out. Unlike wind, which will stop blowing sooner or later.
Corporate welfare aside, I think there is something else at the heart of this matter. Harold Hamm doesn’t like the way wind farms look. Sure, beauty is subjective, but Uncle Harold has opinions, and a lot of money… which means they matter more than ours. In an interview with the The National Journal (pay wall alert) he once complained about how unsightly wind farms can be:
“I frankly don’t like to see a wind turbine,” Hamm told National Journal. “Once they’re there, they haunt you. That’s your viewshed. That’s what you look at. All those things standing out in the distance, we have them all over Oklahoma. And it doesn’t look very good. I frankly don’t like it.”
Uncle Hamm is correct. Wind farms are ugly and they do haunt you. The last time I drove to by the Weatherford wind farm I was haunted by the ghosts of wind farms past when they sent possessed lesser prairie chickens to shit all over my car. That was pretty disgusting and unsightly, so it got me thinking about things that are prettier than wind farms:
1. Abandoned Well Sites
There is something peaceful and rustic about an abandoned well site. When I look at these piles of metal and probably chemicals, I think about the fortunes that they made someone like Harold Hamm, and think, he is an artist!
2. Pumpjacks in the Parking Lot
I’m filled with civic pride when I see pumpjacks taking up parking spaces in OKC. And as we all know, these things are a blast to play on! Move over McDonald’s Play Place!
3. White People Kissing
Is there anything more pure than the love of two white, straight, slightly over-weight Oklahomans? Checkmate homosexuals.
4. Empty Lakes and Reservoirs
Do you remember the past… oh, I dunno, 8 years when Oklahoma was going through a historic drought? Thanks to El Nino and Gary England we’ve gotten out of the worst of it, but I miss the beauty of dry lake beds. If you ask me, Lake Hefner is better as a mud puddle. Plus, these raising and falling water levels cause earthquakes. It has nothing to do with pumping Lake Hefner sized amounts of waste water into the ground.
5. Trailers at the Mansion
I know a lot of people made a big stink about Christina Fallin living in a trailer on the mansion grounds, but I think it was tastefully done! Look at those cacti! And it’s a shame this is probably the reason Mary Fallin won’t be Donald Trump’s Veep pick.
6. Oklahoma Roads and Bridges
When I see something as unsightly as a wind turbine, I have to use eye bleach to get the stink of those ugly things out. And there is nothing better than Oklahoma’s roads and bridges. The roads are smooth as glass and the bridges will never drop chunks of cement and rebar onto your car.
7. Ridiculous Oil And Natural Gas Subsidies
Via Oklahoma Watch:
The Oklahoma Tax Commission estimates the state will pay out $158 million in rebates next year to operators of “economically at-risk” wells that are no longer profitable at current oil and gas prices.
Two years ago, before prices plunged, those rebates totaled just $11 million.
Business Breaks: The Entire Series
The intent of the tax breaks is to cushion the blow of low prices on well operators and extend production from wells that otherwise might be shut down, either temporarily or permanently.
According to state officials and oil industry advocates, scores of well operators across the state are expected to take advantage of the at-risk rebate. In many cases the state will wind up refunding most of the gross production taxes that operators paid during the previous year, officials said.
In all honesty, I think we should take whatever tax credits go toward clean energy and give them to oil companies. In fact, we need to raise taxes on clean energy to help offset all the credits, rebates, handouts and incentives we give to oil.
You can follow Spencer on Twitter, if ya want – @SpencerLenox.