Renewable Energy Tax Credits News Briefs - March 2015

Sunday, March 1, 2015

On Jan. 13, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Notice 2015-04, “Property Qualifying for the Energy Credit under Section 48.” The notice provides guidance on performance and quality standards that small wind energy property must meet to qualify for the investment tax credit (ITC) under Section 48 of the Internal Revenue Code. For example, the notice says small wind energy property must use a wind turbine that has a nameplate capacity of not more than 100 kilowatts. Notice 2015-4 was published in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2015-04. The notice is available at www.energytaxcredits.com.

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Sally Jewell, secretary of the Interior, and Neil Kornze, director of the Bureau of Land Management, announced Feb. 9 that Desert Sunlight Solar Farm is now operating at full capacity. Desert Sunlight, in Riverside County, Calif., is the largest solar project on public lands in the United States, providing 550 megawatts (MW) of electricity. This will provide energy to power approximately 160,000 homes. Developed by First Solar and owned by NextEra, Desert Sunlight is on 4,100 acres and is the sixth solar project approved on public lands that is now operational. The BLM requires that Desert Sunlight help mitigate the project’s potential impacts by providing money for acquisition and enhancement of more than 7,500 acres of suitable habitat for desert tortoise and other sensitive wildlife species.

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Programs Office on Feb. 9 released the report, “Powering New Markets: Utility-Scale Photovoltaic Solar.” The report provides information on the renewable energy market and the results of the construction of utility-scale PV solar facilities through loan guarantees. The report states that utility-scale PV solar has the capacity to produce more than 8,100 MW of electricity, enough to power more than 1.4 million average homes. It is also noted that the rapid growth of solar energy is lowering costs for consumers, creating jobs and cutting the harmful emissions that cause climate change. Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said in a press release that the solar industry employs nearly 175,000 Americans, brings $15 billion into the economy and offsets more than 20 million metric tons of damaging carbon emissions. He added that in the past four years, employment in the solar industry has increased by more than 85 percent. He attributed such progress to smart, effective public policies, such as the loan guarantee program and the solar investment tax credit (ITC). The report is available at www.energy.gov.

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On Feb. 4, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a provider of business and financial information, released, “2015 edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook.” The report, compiled for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE), includes information on trends in the energy industry. Rhone Resch, president of SEIA, said in a press release, that the Factbook points out that the continued growth in residential, commercial and utility-scale solar has helped to diversify the nation’s energy portfolio, improve grid stability, save money and create new jobs across the nation. He added that this growth, including 20 percent more jobs in 2014 than 2013 and 50 percent more added solar capacity nationwide, is due largely to smart, successful public policies such as the solar ITC, net energy metering and renewable portfolio standards.

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On Jan. 16, SunEdison, Inc., a global solar technology manufacturer and solar energy services provider, and TerraForm Power, Inc., an owner and operator of clean energy power plants, announced $590 million was raised in efforts to acquire First Wind, a renewable power provider. The acquisition will cost $2.4 billion. SunEdison raised $190 million through the secondary offering of SunEdison Semiconductor shares. The company also secured a $400 million credit commitment from several SunEdison relationship financial institutions for a 24-month loan. The acquisition included more than 1.6 gigawatts of pipeline and additional projects, of which 1.4 GW were already PTC- or ITC-qualified projects. TerraForm will purchase the projects from SunEdison once they are operational. SunEdison provided an upfront portion of $1 billion. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2015.

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