Senate bill would give clean energy companies direct access to tax credits


Three senators, Tom Carper (D-Del.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), introduced a bill that would allow for temporary refundability of section 45, 45Q, and 48 investment and production tax credits.

The credits provide incentives for the private development of projects such as solar, wind, fuel cells, and carbon capture and sequestration.

Carper, who is chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee and is senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, said that investment, along with the production tax credits, have been “indispensable tools” in driving clean energy and economic growth.

He said the Covid-19 economic crisis created an “immediate crisis” in clean energy financing, “stalling current and future clean energy projects and leaving over 400,000 Americans” in the clean energy sector unemployed.

The bill would allow clean energy companies to bypass frozen tax-equity markets and access tax credits directly. Doing so, in turn, is expected to help get stalled projects going and create jobs in a sector that has been hit especially hard by the pandemic.

This type of legislation has been pushed for by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) as a necessity for the solar industry to recover from economic effects of the pandemic.

News of the legislation was met with approval across the clean energy space, with SEIA, American Clean Power Association, American Council on Renewable Energy, National Wildlife Federation, Advanced Energy Economy, Clean Air Task Force, Consumer Energy Alliance, Sunnova, Intersect Power, Clearway Energy Group, and SunPower all voicing their support.

Backers said the legislation addresses an obstacle facing deployment of new energy technologies in the wake of the pandemic and associated challenges in the tax equity market. They said that providing a direct payment option would put capital into the hands of clean energy companies, spurring development and job growth.

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