On May 11, 2017, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) introduced the Offshore Wind Incentives for New Development Act or, simply, the Offshore WIND Act (here). The Offshore WIND Act would extend the 30% investment tax credit (ITC) under Section 48 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) for offshore wind through 2025. Continue Reading Wind in the Sails of Offshore Wind Farms: Recent Developments in Incentives for Offshore Wind Generation
On May 4, 2017, Maryland became the first state in the country to offer a tax credit for energy storage systems with Governor Larry Hogan’s (R) signing of Senate Bill No. 758 (available here).
The law provides a tax credit for certain costs of installing an energy storage system. Energy storage systems include systems used to store electrical energy, or mechanical, chemical, or thermal energy that was once electrical energy, for use as electrical energy at a later date or in a process that offsets electricity use at peak times. The tax credit is not limited to storage systems that are charged by renewable energy sources. The tax credit is up to $5,000 for a system installed on a residential property and the lesser of $75,000 and 30 percent of the cost of the energy storage system for a system installed on a commercial property (which presumably would include a utility). The tax credit would apply to systems installed between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2022. The tax credit may only be used to offset Maryland income tax liability (i.e., it cannot be applied against other types of Maryland taxes such as excise tax) and may not be carried forward to another taxable year. The law sets a limit of $750,000 on the aggregate tax credits issued to all taxpayers in a taxable year; such credits to be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Continue Reading Maryland Enacts First in the Nation Energy Storage Tax Credit
On May 2, Mayer Brown and Alfa Energy Advisors presented the seminar/webinar Tax Structuring and Impact of Potential Tax Reform. A copy of the presentation is available here. The webinar was sponsored by Bloomberg BNA.
The webinar participants (but not the seminar participants) had the opportunity to answer polling questions. The sample size, which varied by question, may not be large enough to be statistically valid. Here are the webinar polling results:
1. How likely is it that a reduction in the corporate tax rate will be effective in 2018?
Very likely – 0%
More likely than not – 42.9%
Somewhat likely – 57.1%
It is not going to happen – 0%
2. How likely is it that the federal corporate income tax rate will be reduced below 30% during the current Trump administration?
Very likely – 14.3%
More likely than not – 21.4%
Somewhat likely – 57.1%
It is not going to happen – 7.1%
3. Which is your preferred partnership structure for solar tax equity transactions?
After-tax IRR based flip – 72.7%
Time based flip – 27.3%
On April 17, 2017, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed into law House Bill No. 2298, which moves the deadline for a wind project to be operational to qualify for the state’s production tax credit for wind power to June 30, 2017 – three and a half years earlier than the December 31, 2020 deadline under prior law. The state’s tax credit is a $0.0050 per kilowatt-hour credit for electricity generated by eligible zero-emission facilities. The credit is available for 10 years from the date the project becomes operational and is refundable for up to 85 percent of its face amount. Eligible zero-emission facilities are those located in the state that produce electricity from wind, moving water, sun or geothermal energy, and have a rated capacity of one megawatt or greater. The bill does not change the sunset date for the credit for any type of eligible facility other than wind (i.e., the end date for solar, moving water and geothermal facilities remains at January 1, 2021). In addition, all existing wind farms and those that are operational before July 1 of this year will continue to receive the 10-year production credit under the same terms as previous law. Continue Reading Oklahoma State PTC Ends for Wind Projects Not Operating Prior to July 1, 2017
Please join Mayer Brown, Alfa Energy Advisors and Bloomberg BNA for a seminar at Mayer Brown’s New York office. We will address how tax reform could affect various tax equity structures, how the market is allocating tax reform risk between sponsors and tax equity investors and these topics:
- The IRS’s updated “start of construction” guidance for tax credit qualification
- Trends in the tax equity market
- Impact of potential tax reform on flip partnership structuring
- Wind PTC projects
- Solar ITC projects
- Earnings per share impact analysis
- Comparison of time and yield based partnership flip structures
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Registration & Lunch
12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Program
1221 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020-1001
+1 212 506 2500
Attendance in person at the live event is free of charge. Click to Register to Attend in Person (or go to http://reaction.mayerbrown.com/reaction/RSGenPage.asp?RSID=HNeQeRsxYjYPrH4jAN4fZqQ2XuFuZTe2pLLslTkJ177lkEoGqbiUt_0a9DqRcwMz)
If you are unable to join in person, the program will also be available via webinar.
Bloomberg BNA Registration: $224
For 25% off registration, use promo code: FIRMDISC17
Click to Register to Participate via Webinar (or go to https://www.bna.com/tax-equity-structuring-m57982085993)
David K. Burton
Vadim Ovchinnikov, CFA, CPA
Alfa Energy Advisors
Alfa Energy Advisors
On April 11, the IRS announced an inflation adjustment increase in the production tax credit (“PTC”) for power sold in 2017 that is generated by wind, closed-loop biomass, geothermal projects to 2.4 cents from the prior 2.3 cents per kWh. The inflation adjustment announcement will be published in the Federal Register on April 12.
Such inflation adjustments are welcomed news when announced and slightly goose the economics of the pertinent projects. Continue Reading Wind PTC Increased from 2.3 Cents to 2.4 Cents per kWh
Below are soundbites from speakers and panelists who spoke at Infocast’s Solar Power Finance & Investment Summit on March 22 and 23 in San Diego. It was Infocast’s best attended event ever, and the mood was relatively upbeat.
The soundbites are edited for clarity and are organized by topic, rather than in chronological order. They were prepared without the benefit of a transcript or recording.
Tax Equity Structures
“The tax equity flip [partnership structure] is more complicated, [than a sale-leaseback], in particularly if there is back leverage.” Director of Investing, Solar Company
“The optimal structure for C&I [for a partnership flip with back leverage] is 40 percent tax equity, 45 percent back leverage debt” and 15 percent sponsor equity. Director of Investing, Solar Company
“Last year it was almost universally inverted leases; this year mostly partnership flips.” Banker, Specialty Bank
“There is a more pronounced tension between back leverage and tax equity in an investment tax credit transaction, [than a production tax credit transaction,] because of the risk of recapture of the investment tax credit.” Managing Director, Tax Equity Investor
“There is increased tension between back leverage and tax equity, whether the stress is cash step ups for under performance or other matters. What we thought were normal structuring techniques the back leverage lenders take exception to.” Managing Director, Money Center Bank
Selecting a tax equity structure should be “all about velocity. Really, [the sale-leaseback] is what is easiest to do.” Managing Director, Regional Bank
“A cash strapped sponsor is not the best candidate for a partnership flip; they are better off with a sale-leaseback.” Executive Director, Non-Traditional Tax Equity Investor
“Some tax equity ask us to lend at the project level – senior secured – for capital account reasons. But by the time you negotiate the forbearance and related debt/equity terms, you might as well be back leverage.” Group Head, Regional Bank’s Capital Markets
“We only consider project level debt as a lender. We have negotiated dozens of forbearance agreements with tax equity.” Banker, Specialty Bank
State of the Tax Equity Market
“There is enough [supply of] tax equity for 2017 [projects]. We are seeing some 2018 transactions being pushed by developers into 2017.” Advisor, Boutique Accounting Firm
“We like to take our limited [annual] tax capacity and spread it over a greater volume of deals, so we prefer wind” which has a ten year production tax credit, rather than a 30 percent investment tax credit in the first year. Managing Director, Consumer Finance Bank
“In wind, you [(i.e., the tax equity investor)] are a bigger piece of the capital stack. In solar, it is smaller piece because the investment tax credit is all up front. [The sponsor] wants to minimize the tax equity to maximize the back leverage, which is cheaper capital.” Advisor, Boutique Accounting Firm Continue Reading Infocast’s Solar Power Finance & Investment Summit Soundbites
The Trump Administration has the admirable goal of encouraging infrastructure investment. One policy it may want to consider is promoting the recycling of existing municipal infrastructure assets. This policy was developed in Australia and has been successful there.
Recycling infrastructure assets does not refer to re-using concrete blocks. Rather, it is a vernacular term that refers to the sale by a municipality of existing infrastructure assets to private investors to raise cash that the municipality can then use to construct new infrastructure assets.
Existing infrastructure assets with revenue histories are perceived as a safer investments for investors than investing in the construction of a new asset that is unknown whether or not it will be able to be operated successfully. This perception means that private investors will pay a higher price for an infrastructure asset with a revenue history than for an infrastructure asset that has yet to be constructed. Further, new infrastructure projects require years to design, approve and construct.
Under a policy of recycling infrastructure assets, municipalities are encouraged by the federal government to sell existing assets that have revenue streams. An example could be a tunnel or a port. The proceeds of the sale are required to be held in a account that can only be used to fund new infrastructure projects. Continue Reading Recycling Infrastructure Assets to Spur Infrastructure Investment
On March 9, 2017, Oklahoma’s House of Representatives passed H.B. 2298, which would end the Oklahoma production tax credit for wind energy production three and a half years earlier than current law. This measure was first proposed in Governor Fallin’s 2018 Executive Budget. See our prior coverage.
The bill provides a July 1, 2017 sunset date for wind facilities to be eligible for the zero-emission tax credits. Wind facilities must be placed in operation prior to that date to be eligible for the tax credits. The rate of the tax credit is unchanged at 0.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Interestingly, the early deadline only applies with respect to electricity generated by wind. The bill retains the original January 1, 2021 deadline for other zero-emission facilities, such as solar or geothermal facilities. However, the vast majority of zero-emission energy production in Oklahoma is from wind. Continue Reading Oklahoma House Votes for Early Sunset of State Wind PTC
“PACE” – Is it the new buzzword? Lately, it seems I keep hearing about securitizations backed by PACE financings. What is a PACE financing program, and what is happening in the securitization market?
“PACE” stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy. Under PACE programs, municipalities and counties form special tax districts to help residential, commercial or industrial property owners finance energy efficient upgrades or renewable energy installations to their properties through payments of additional property taxes. While the specific details vary by state, the basic premise is that the property owner is allowed to finance 100 percent of the cost of the energy property through increased property tax assessments – the “PACE” assessments. The PACE assessments are typically for 15 to 20 years and operate similar to loan payments in that these property tax payments repay the initial financing cost for the energy upgrade. The PACE assessments, however, are legally property tax assessments and, thus, have the benefit of being secured by senior liens against the taxpayer’s property.
The way the financing works is specific to the individual programs, but the funds typically come from some form of private / public partnership, which allows the state or municipality to encourage identified property upgrades to achieve environmental and energy efficiency goals without having to raise funding, and provides investors with new opportunities to invest in a secure asset in the green energy space. The benefit to the property owner is typically the ability to realize immediate cost savings in reduced energy costs while paying for the improvement over a 15 to 20 year period, and also being able to finance 100 percent of the cost. Continue Reading “PACE” for Residential and Commercial Renewable Energy Projects – What is it?