NewEnergyNews: SMARTER NEW ENERGY INCENTIVES

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    Thursday, September 27, 2012

    SMARTER NEW ENERGY INCENTIVES

    Small Changes to Federal Renewable Policy Could Deliver Big Savings for Taxpayers; Federal Wind and Solar Incentives are Critical, Could be more Cost-Effective

    September 17, 2012 (Climate Policy Initiative)

    “Federal government support has been crucial to growth in the solar and wind industries. A new report by Climate Policy Initiative (CPI), Supporting Renewables While Saving Taxpayers Money, shows the government could sustain that support at much lower cost to taxpayers, by replacing current tax credits with cash incentives…[A] taxable cash incentive for wind energy could deliver the same support to wind projects as current policy and almost halve the cost to taxpayers…

    “CPI’s report shows that federal wind and solar incentives bridged roughly half the gap between the costs of renewable electricity generation and electricity market prices for wind and solar projects financed in 2010. Assuming that current federal policies are sustained, performance and technology improvements mean that the average wind project financed in 2013 would be nearly viable through federal incentives alone, while solar projects would still require some state support.”

    “Changing federal policies from tax to cash incentives would save taxpayers money while maintaining the same level of support for the wind and solar industries. Current federal tax incentives are not a cost-effective way to support renewable energy because most project developers don’t have enough tax liability. As a result, they employ tax equity partners at additional cost. With cash incentives, developers don’t need tax equity partners; this makes the system more cost-efficient.

    “The report recommends two changes to federal wind and solar incentives: Extend the wind production tax credit and deliver it as a $21/MWh taxable cash incentive. This would have the same value to projects, reduce inefficiencies, and reduce government costs by almost half for every unit of clean electricity generated. Give solar photovoltaic projects the option to take a 20% 1603 cash grant in lieu of the current 30% investment tax credit. This would simultaneously reduce government costs while better supporting solar energy projects…”

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