In 2014, a study was conducted to determine the economic impact of wind energy development in Oklahoma.
The Wind Coalition Executive Director Jeffrey Clark says the study found wind developers have invested more than $6 billion into Oklahoma communities over the past decade.
“These projects pay about $22 million annually to landowners.
That is a tremendous economic opportunity for farmers and ranchers who want to make some extra income using their property as a wind energy development project but also are still able to farm and ranch around those projects. It’s really a tremendous benefit to those rural agricultural economies. And then, of course, there’s $15 million a year in wages that go to workers to keep those farms operational, so quite a bit of economic benefit flowing into the state of Oklahoma.”
Clark says these projects have provided rural communities opportunities to grow their tax bases.
“Oklahoma has made the state competitive with Kansas and Texas by offering incentives to attract these projects to the state. After a short abatement period of taxes, these projects last 20 to 25 years. And so what this has meant for rural communities is long-term capital investment in their community, the ability to grow their tax base, the ability to have additional money for their schools and for their counties, and the ability to not be as dependent on (the) state for their local school districts.”
Clark provides some examples of how wind development revenue has impacted individual counties.
“Grady and Caddo counties are two counties that have benefitted from wind development, and interestingly, the state has also benefitted from being able to attract companies and businesses that are interested in renewable energy. In Grady and Caddo County, what we saw is that Google built a data center in Oklahoma and used the wind power from those counties to power that facility, which meant investment in those communities.”
Clark says it’s important for states like Oklahoma to remain competitive for investment of all types, including wind development, to continue to become more energy independent.