Future of solar and wind finance unclear in final tax reform bill

There are many people across the nation who would like to know exactly what is in the final version of the tax reform bill which is being rammed through the legislative process – including the potential impacts for clean energy.

Among these are members of Congress in the Democratic Party, including those who serve on the committee that is responsible for crafting a final bill, and clean energy advocates. As a hearing for this committee adjourned at 5:13 PM on December 13, Democrats still had not seen the text of the bill, despite Reuters reporting hours earlier that Congressional Republicans had struck a deal on the final version.

This fact was not lost on Democrats, who spent much of a televised hearing complaining about the lack of access to the bill. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, called the process a “reality show version of a conference committee”.

“There is a fear that if the American people really find out what is in this bill they will reject it,” added Representative Lloyd Doggett (D) of Texas.

With only hearsay to rely on there is a lack of clarity on the details, including the controversial Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) provision. American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) says that there “may be” a repair to the BEAT provision, however Bloomberg Reporter Ari Natter had a slightly different take earlier this afternoon, stating that Senator Cory Gardner had told him that the matter had not yet been resolved, but that “progress is being made”.

Multiple clean energy finance experts have warned pv magazine that by limiting the amount of income that could be protected from taxation in international transfers, the BEAT provision could dry up the market for tax equity and limit monetization of both the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and Production Tax Credit (PTC), particularly by some of the large U.S. banks that are most involved in this market.

Gregory Jenner of law firm Stoel Rives expressed similar concerns to pv magazine over the 20% Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), however New York Times is reporting that the AMT has been removed from the final bill.

ACORE is able to report some good news, in that the changes to the PTC for wind and the repeal of a tax credit for electric vehicles, both of which were in the House version of the bill, do not appear to have made it to the final bill.

pv magazine will report more on the contents of this bill when we, advocacy groups, Democratic members of Congress and the rest of America can actually read it.