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Renewable Energy Tax Credits News Briefs - April 2016

The Clean Energy Group, a nonprofit clean energy advocacy group, submitted a comment letter Feb. 12 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stating that solar storage should qualify for energy tax credits. Clean Energy Group stated that batteries and equipment that store solar energy should qualify for energy investment tax credits (ITCs) for small taxpayers. The equipment can expand solar system use by storing energy during off-peak times, reduce utility demand and provide reliable backup during power outages, the letter indicated. The comment letter was sent in response to IRS Notice 2015-70, which requested comments about whether the credit should be limited to property that actually produces electricity and whether energy equipment with dual uses should qualify. The IRS is seeking to update definitions about what types of equipment that farms, businesses and schools install to generate power onsite from solar, geothermal and wind sources should qualify for the credit under tax code Section 48. Clean Energy Group added that the IRS could consider aligning the definitions with those under Section 25D, which outlines the credit qualifications for residential energy-efficient property.

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The White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) issued the report, “A Retrospective Assessment of Clean Energy Investments in the Recovery Act,” in early March that discusses how clean energy investments received a boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). CEA estimates that ARRA clean-energy-related programs supported approximately 900,000 job-years in innovative clean energy fields from its enactment in 2009 to 2015. CEA also estimated that from late 2009 through mid-2011, ARRA lifted gross domestic product (GDP) by 2 to 3 percent above where it would have been. Also noted in the report was that solar electricity generation has increased more than 30-fold since 2008 and wind generation increased more than three-fold since 2008. CEA stated that since ARRA was implemented, there has been continual growth in clean-energy jobs and the clean-energy ARRA investments were an important step in the right direction. The report is available at www.energytaxcredits.com.

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The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Greentech Media (GTM) Research announced Feb. 22 another record-breaking year for the solar industry, with the United States having installed 7,286 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2015. Shayle Kann, senior vice president of GTM Research, said in the SEIA press release that U.S. solar market remains concentrated in key states, with the top 10 states accounting for 87 percent of installed capacity in 2015. He added that growth has been widespread, and 24 of the 35 states that the organization tracks individually saw market growth in 2015. The press release cited solar as supplying 29.5 percent of all new electric-generating capacity in the U.S. in 2015. Led by California, North Carolina, Nevada, Massachusetts and New York, the U.S. solar market experienced a year-over-year growth rate of 17 percent, according to the release. The utility-scale sector grew 6 percent year-over-year and represented more than half of all solar PV installed in 2015. SEIA indicated that cumulative U.S. solar PV installations have now topped 25 GW, up from 2 GW in 2010.

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On March 2, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) applauded the leadership of the Oregon legislature in passing S.B. 1547, which requires each electric company providing electricity to retail electricity consumers in the state to eliminate coal-fired resources from electric company’s electricity supply. The bipartisan decision requires Oregon to move off electricity from coal-fired power plants by 2030, and by 2040, the state would need to get at least 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy. This new state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) target puts Oregon on track to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals, which called for reducing carbon emissions 75 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

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Renewable Energy Tax Credits

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