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?

Answers:

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?

Answers:

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?

Answers:

After-tax IRR based flip – 72.7%

Time based flip – 27.3%

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

Location
Mayer Brown
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)

Speakers

David K. Burton
Partner
Mayer Brown

Vadim Ovchinnikov, CFA, CPA
Director
Alfa Energy Advisors

Gintaras Sadauskas
Director
Alfa Energy Advisors

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

Below are soundbites from panelists at the Infocast Wind Power & Finance Investment Summit on February 28, 2017 in Rancho Bernardo, California.  The soundbites are organized by topic, rather than in chronological order, and were prepared without the benefit of a transcript or a recording.  The soundbites were edited for clarity.

Prospects for Tax Reform

 “Generally in Congress things take longer than they want them too.” – In House Lobbyist

“Tax reform won’t take shape until next year, and that is probably early.” – Regulatory Affairs Executive

“Amidst the unknowns, if you are not taking into account the uncertainty of the corporate tax rate, you are probably not getting it right.” – Regulatory Affairs Executive

“If tax reform is good for corporate America, then in the grand scheme it is good for us, given the [number of] corporate buyers” of wind power.  – CEO of Texas Wind Developer

 

Allocation of Tax Reform Risk in Transactions

“There is a risk that early deals that have to get done set a standard for the allocation of tax reform risk [between the tax equity investor and the developer] that is not sustainable.” – Renewable Energy Executive

“If corporate tax reform remains uncertain, it poses a risk of such a big swing in the economics [of a wind project] that no one is prepared to absorb that risk.”  – Executive from East Coast Utility

“Our [utility] commission has been okay with a clause in a power purchase agreement requiring renegotiation of the pricing for tax changes.  If there is an adverse tax change, we will be buying power at the higher rates in any event at that time.”  – Executive from Midwest Utility

  Continue Reading Infocast Wind Power & Finance Investment Summit Soundbites

On January 19, 2017, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Revenue Procedure 2017-19 (the “Rev. Proc.”) providing a safe harbor for certain alternative energy sales contracts with federal agencies to be treated as service contracts under Section 7701(e)(3).[1] The safe harbor is important because, if such a contract is treated as a lease to the federal agency, a solar project would constitute “tax-exempt use property” that is ineligible for the investment tax credit (ITC) and accelerated depreciation (including bonus depreciation).[2]

Continue Reading IRS Provides Safe Harbor for Solar Contracts with Federal Agencies

Rumblings in the market suggest that some tax equity investors are preparing for the possibility that the 2017 marginal corporate federal income tax rate may be much lower than the current 35 percent.  Such tax equity investors are concerned that this could result in them having insufficient tax appetite in 2017 to make tax equity investments.  Such a concern is unfounded.

First, broad tax reform measures (like changes in corporate rates) are never effective in the year they are enacted.  Businesses, the IRS and tax professionals need time to implement the new rules. This includes financial planning, but also includes the IRS drafting new forms and tax preparation companies updating their software.

Further, since 1954 the only instance of tax reform being passed in the first year a new President was in office was Ronald Reagan in 1981.  (And again, those changes were effective starting in 1982.)

Below is a chart I prepared summarizing the timeline of major federal income tax reform legislation since 1954:

Tax Reform Timeline

We are pleased to make available the materials from our June 29 tax equity seminar.

Here’s is the link to a PDF of the slides: Seminar Slides PDF.

The webinar audience submitted questions that we did not have time to answer.  The questions were:

1.  Why do balance sheet players have an advantage in obtaining power purchase agreements?

2.  What size of transaction supports the cost of the work needed for pass through and inverted leases?

3. Is there clarity as to a “reasonable” level of developer, project management, legal fees and finance costs as a percentage of the cost of the project?

4. For SolarCity stated tax equity returns in 2015 referenced in the presentation, in your experience, what have you generally seen the range of allocations for returns to be?

Our answers are available here: Q&A Link

Finally, I want to thank Gintaras Sadauskas of Alfa Business Advisors for presenting with me.

On June 10, the IRS issued Notice 2016-36, available at https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-16-36.pdf (the “Notice”), which updates and expands the existing safe harbor[1] pursuant to which the transfer of an intertie (or reimbursement for the cost thereof) to a regulated public utility will be treated as a contribution to the capital of a corporation, and not a contribution in aid of construction (“CIAC”) and, accordingly, will not result in taxable income to the utility.[2]  Utilities often require developers of new projects to transfer interties as a condition to allowing the developers to transmit the  power from their projects over the utility’s lines.

The full post is available at Notice 2016-36 Intertie Blog Post 6-15-16,

 

 

[1] The existing safe harbor is provided under a series of notices issued by the IRS between 1988 and 2001.  See Notice 2001-82, 2001-2 C.B. 619; Notice 90-60, 1990-2 C.B. 345; and Notice 88-129, 1988-2 C.B. 541.

[2] See I.R.C. §§ 118(a) and (b) (contributions to the capital of a corporation are excluded from taxable income; the term “contribution to capital” does not include any CIAC).

On June 29, please join David Burton of Mayer Brown and Gintaras Sadauskas of Alfa Business Advisors for a seminar presented at Mayer Brown’s Chicago office and as a webinar.

 

Topics addressed in the program will include:

  • The IRS’s updated “start of construction” guidance for tax credit qualification
  • Trends in the tax equity market
  • Flip partnership structuring
  • Financial modeling best practices, including a discussion of hypothetical liquidation at book value (HLBV) accounting

Location
Mayer Brown
71 South Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60606

Date & Time (Central)
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Registration
4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Program
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Reception

If you are unable to join in person, the program will also be available via webinar.

For those attending in person, the seminar will be followed by a cocktail reception.

For additional information or to register, please contact Carly Brandess at +1 312 701 8495 or cbrandess@mayerbrown.com.