Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Wind-energy growth could stall under tax proposals

The renewable-energy industry is booming across the U.S., but it could face challenges, depending on what the final tax-reform bill looks like after the House and Senate reconcile their differences. CBS MoneyWatch reports that 86 percent of the nation's wind capacity was in Republican congressional districts in 2016, and much of the job growth is happening in rural areas.
CBS MoneyWatch map; click on the image to enlarge it.
The Senate bill would retain the tax credits that have spurred huge growth in renewable energy, but would impose the alternative minimum tax on these companies’ foreign transactions. "If they have to pay a minimum tax, they may no longer have any need for the credits acquired through tax-equity deals," Brian Eckhouse reports for Bloomberg. That could cripple the industry, because a critical source of investment comes from multinational corporations that invest in tax equity for solar and wind farms.

Ken Silverstein writes for Forbes, "The Senate bill would treat the investment tax credits provided to the wind and solar industries as income. Right now, projects are eligible to receive 30 percent tax credits — incentives that have led to the development of $50 billion in renewable energy facilities, say advocates, and something that could come to a screeching halt if the bankers and financiers that are backing them stop doing so."
The House bill would retroactively change the rules that dictate how wind developers qualify for production and investment tax credits, meaning that developers depending on the credits would have to eat the costs or abandon the project. "The Texas wind industry supported upwards of 22,000 direct and indirect jobs and accounted for annual lease payments to landowners of more than $60 million in 2016, according to AWEA," the American Wind Energy Association, John Austin reports for Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. in Texas, where "wind-generation capacity for the first time exceeded installed coal-fired generation capacity" in October.

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