Commentary: Legislators Seek Plan for Alternative Energy Use

By Pitts, William O | THE JOURNAL RECORD, July 28, 2008 | Go to article overview

Commentary: Legislators Seek Plan for Alternative Energy Use


Pitts, William O, THE JOURNAL RECORD


Can Oklahoma play a key role in making Americans more independent of foreign oil? Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, believes so.

"Oklahoma has an opportunity to play a vital role in making Americans more independent from foreign oil that takes advantage of the state's natural gas production," he said.

Following the lead of oil and gas industry leaders, such as T. Boone Pickens, the energy hedge fund operator who is moving into construction of wind farms and electricity transmission lines, Benge is calling for development of an alternative energy plan for the House Republican agenda next year.

While emphasizing the need for an "all-of-the-above" solution to include compressed and liquefied natural gas, coal, nuclear, geothermal, wind and solar energies, Benge stressed use of compressed natural gas, which he called the "cleanest internal- combustion fuel in the world."

He is not alone. Randy Terrill, R-Moore and chairman of the House Subcommittee on Revenue and Taxation, has announced he will re-file legislation to create new tax incentives for those using wind, solar or geothermal energy.

"In Oklahoma we have done a good job of encouraging new oil and gas exploration. Now it's time to support alternative energy technologies." Terrill said.

His legislation creates a non-transferable tax credit equal to 40 percent of the total cost of installation for solar and wind energy systems and 10 percent of the cost for installing geothermal energy.

Earlier state Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, announced he will file legislation providing tax credits for the purchase of compressed natural gas vehicles or converting vehicles to run on natural gas.

"It costs far less to run a car on natural gas than gasoline, but that option isn't realistic for most Oklahomans today," he said.

He is right. Out of the millions of motor vehicles in Oklahoma, only an infinitesimal number are designed to run on fuel other than gasoline. The change will take time and probably more than tax credits. …

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