Originally published on Sustainnovate.
By Henry Lindon
A new study from Oklahoma State University has found that wind energy projects in the western part of the state are bringing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue into local county coffers and school districts — while also increasing the state’s energy independence.
Wind energy companies have reportedly paid almost $134 million in ad valorem taxes in the state since 2004 — thereby boosting the economic resources of a great many rural counties, according to Shannon Ferrell, a professor in Oklahoma State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics.
As an example, Roger Mills County (population a little more than 3,700) has received the biggest boost in property tax dollars to date, having received around $25.9 million from the wind energy industry so far.
A press release on the subject provides more:
Woodward County was second highest with $13.1 million from the wind industry, but Ferrell predicts those revenues will swell to $166.8 million over the lifetime of its wind farms. Garfield County has fared well, too, picking up $6.9 million in taxes from the farms. Ferrell estimates the county will see $69.1 million in revenue from wind systems.
Ferrell said his study is the first to measure the impact of the fast-growing wind industry on more rural counties, and how it co-exists with other key sectors vying for the same space. He hopes the study helps lawmakers shape policy decisions, he said.
Even as oil and gas companies close wells due to plunging prices, the wind industry thrives, Ferrell told a roomful of people Tuesday at an event put on by the Association of Energy Engineers and the Oklahoma Renewable Energy Council.
“Having these turbines in rural areas really makes an impact on those county budgets,” Ferrel stated. “I think that’s the biggest sign that wind has arrived in Oklahoma.”
Oklahoma currently receives roughly 17% of its electricity via wind energy projects. There are around 2153 wind turbines currently operational there.