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For the past 25 years, the federal government has coddled the wind industry by lavishing upon it billions of dollars’ worth of subsidies. The most prominent of these subsidies is the Production Tax Credit (PTC), which now costs Americans over $5 billion dollars per year. Embroiled in the current tax debate is a set of provisions that would put an end to the wind PTC—a process that was supposed to be put in place by Congress in 2015, but was prevented by a loophole in the IRS guidance.
The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH) included an incremental reduction of the wind PTC of 20 percent each year for wind projects that were started after 2016. However, shortly after this law was passed, the IRS released guidance giving projects started before 2020 four years to be completed and in service before the IRS required details on the project.
Projects - Construction - PTC - Process - Wind
This made it easy for projects to claim they started construction in 2016, avoiding the declining PTC altogether and effectively transforming the four-year process of phasing out the wind PTC into an extension of the program. As Lisa Linowes notes, this created a surge in wind energy production in early 2017, as producers scrambled to be eligible for the wind PTC:
Safe-harbored turbines under contract in early 2017 ballooned to between 30,000 and 70,000 megawatts (MW) with Bloomberg New Energy Finance projecting 38,000 MW of new wind being placed in service by 2020. Without reform, the PTC tax will grow to an additional $32+ billion in the next decade, not including the credits awarded projects already operating.
House - Tax - Bill - IRS - Guidance
The House tax bill is attempting to rein in the IRS’s guidance through the “Special Rule for Determination of Beginning...
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