Proposed tax break hopes to encourage green power usage

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA - Oklahomans who choose alternative energy sources to power their vehicles or to heat and cool their homes or businesses may be eligible for tax credits if two measures passed by a House committee become law.

Even though the state is facing a $900 million budget hole in the upcoming fiscal year, it's important for Oklahoma to offer tax credits to consider alternative fuel sources in the state, House Speaker Chris Benge said.

The two measures are part of Benge's effort to develop an energy plan for the state to lessen dependence on foreign oil, which could be used as a model for a national energy plan. Both go to the full House after winning passage by the House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

House Bill 1948 would provide a 5 percent tax credit for residents and businesses who would buy a geothermal heat pump system. House Bill 1949 is intended to double the number of publicly available compressed natural gas fueling stations and give Oklahomans tax credits to help them make a transition to alternative fuel vehicles.

Benge, R-Tulsa, said other energy-related measures to be taken up this session deal with solar, nuclear and wind power.

It's estimated HB 1948 would cost the state about $850,000 a year while no estimate has determined yet how much HB 1949 would cost, Benge said.

Benge authored HB 1949 last summer when gasoline prices were about $4 a gallon in the state. Gasoline prices have dropped more than half since then, but Benge said it's still important for Oklahoma to push an energy plan.

"Once the economy picks back up, we're expecting the gasoline prices to go up again because that demand's going to be there," he said.


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