The international clean energy company Enel wants to build a solar panel manufacturing facility in Oklahoma and Gov. Kevin Stitt is asking state lawmakers to support an undisclosed incentive package to seal the deal.
Enel North America is eying the Tulsa Port of Inola as a potential site for the plant, which would create an estimated 1,500 jobs.
Oklahoma is the leading candidate to land the facility and Enel is “excited about the possibility to expand our presence in the state,” Giovanni Bertolino, the head of Enel North America’s 3Sun USA solar panel affiliate, told The Frontier in a statement.
Stitt told a group of visitors to the Oklahoma Capitol on Wednesday the state was on “the one-yard line” to land a major economic development deal, but he needs the Legislature on board to make it happen.
“These guys are ready to go,” Stitt told The Frontier after the speech. “Sometimes, as we get close to May, things are kind of tied to other things and I wish it wasn’t like that, but that’s the nature of politics.”
State economic development officials have named efforts to recruit Enel “Project Sirius.”
Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat said that landing the company would require a smaller, but similar incentive package to a $698-million package the state has offered previous companies. Treat declined to go into further detail about specific amounts or terms of any deal. He said Senate leadership supports the plan and sent Stitt a letter bolstering that sentiment on Wednesday.
The terms of the deal would have to be approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor. The earliest that could happen would be next week.
A disagreement over tax cuts has stalled things. House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, said the House needs to have tax cuts in order to give Enel incentives, while the Senate does not want to cut taxes.
McCall said the House is ready to help the governor and do what is necessary to land Enel, but he “sees tax cuts or some relief necessary for the people of Oklahoma,” and if the state is going to go along with large incentive packages for big companies they “can’t forget about the everyday taxpayer.”
But Senate leadership has made clear they don’t want to cut taxes this year and want to see the incentives pass on their own.
“We’re not going to agree to any other unrelated bill to get this through,” Treat said. “We are agreeing to get an economic development project landed and do what that takes, but no ancillary issues tied to it.”
Stitt spoke to the House Republican Caucus at a closed-door emergency meeting on Thursday morning to iron out details of incentives for Enel.