February 15, 2017 Read More →

Analysts See Little Risk to U.S. Wind and Solar Incentives

Peter Maloney for Utility Dive:

According to analyst Neel Mitra at Tudor Pickering Holt, “it is doubtful the Trump administration will take any action to modify or eliminate the Investment Tax Credits (ITC) and/or Production Tax Credits (PTC).”

In fact, during his confirmation hearings Trump’s new Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said he supported keeping the incentives on the same track they are on now.

Those credits were renewed at the end of 2015, with sunset provisions. The PTC is scheduled to be phased out, dropping to 80%, 60% and then 40% of its current value until it is phased out by year-end 2019.

The ITC will remain at its current 30% level until 2019 and steps down to 26% in 2020 and 22% in 2021. After 2021, the residential credit will drop to zero while the commercial and utility credit will drop to a permanent 10%.

But the outlook is complicated by the fact that the closest thing to certainty coming out of Washington these days is that there will be some form of tax reform.

Keith Martin, a partner with Chadbourne & Parke, in a conference call with SSR analyst Eric Selmon, said the prospects of the PTC and ITC could depend on the process that Congress uses to implement tax reform.

If Congress uses the budget reconciliation process so that the bill can go through with just 51 votes in the Senate, then the tax credits are at greater risk. But if Congress doesn’t use the reconciliation process and tries a more bipartisan approach, then the renewable credits are much safer, Martin said.

And the wind credit, the PTC, is on a somewhat safer footing than the ITC for solar power. The PTC is already set to be phased out, but the 10% permanent solar credit could be eliminated as part of corporate tax reform, said Martin.

The relative certainty of the PTC and ITC phase-out is likely to drive deployments for the next three or four years, especially for wind power, says analyst Julien Dumoulin-Smith at UBS. Many wind developers have already taken steps to safe harbor their projects in order to qualify for the full PTC, and the impetus of the imminent end of the incentives will likely keep the pace of development brisk.

The unanswered question, Dumoulin-Smith said, is what replaces those incentives when they end.

Full article: How federal tax reform could complicate prospects for renewable energy

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