IRS Distributes $800 M to Renewable Energy Projects

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently allocated $800 million in tax credit bonds to renewable and alternative energy projects throughout the U.S. More than 600 projects received Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREB), including 434 solar facilities, 112 wind facilities, 14 hydro power facilities and 13 open-loop biomass facilities.

Overall, the IRS received applications from 40 different states totaling approximately $2.6 billion in CREBs requests. Out of the 700-plus applications received by the April 26 deadline earlier this year, 610 government and electrical cooperative projects — which ranged in scale from $23,000 to $80 million — were chosen to receive the tax credit bond. According to Timothy Jones in the IRS office of assistant chief counsel, with a conventional bond the issuer must pay interest to the bondholder. With a tax credit bond on the other hand, the federal government pays a tax credit to the bondholder in lieu of the issuer paying interest to the bondholder – and the bondholder can deduct the amount of the tax credit from their total income tax liability. In essence, a CREB provides government and electric cooperatives with interest-free loans for financing qualified energy projects. “In all cases, the benefit is they’re getting interest free loans,” said Jones. “It’s the interest free component that creates the benefit. Local governments, in many cases, might use their own money to build the project. But if they can borrow the money interest-free, they’d be crazy not to.” The CREB program was established under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 in order to tap the potential for renewable generation from the not-for-profit electric cooperative sector — which is unable to utilize federal Production Tax Credits or solar investment tax credits — according to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Of the $800 million authorized for the program, $500 million was allocated to state and local government borrowers and $300 million was allocated to the cooperative borrowers per the requirements set down in the Energy Policy Act. Qualified projects that could apply for CREBs included solar and wind facilities, closed loop biomass facilities, open loop biomass facilities, geothermal facilities, small irrigation power facilities, landfill gas facilities, trash combustion facilities, refined coal production facilities and certain hydropower facilities. Of the approved government projects, 401 are for solar facilities, 99 for wind facilities, 23 for landfill gas facilities, eight for hydropower facilities and one for an open loop biomass facility. Of the approved cooperative projects, 33 are for solar facilities, 13 for wind facilities, 13 for landfill gas facilities, 12 for open-loop biomass facilities, six for hydropower facilities and one for a refined coal production facility. Although the IRS has completed its review of applications and is in the process of notifying applicants of the results, restrictions prohibit the disclosure of taxpayer specific information and Jones was unable to provide any further details about the proposed projects to RenewableEnergyAccess.com. However, there were 231 proposed projects in California, 67 in New Mexico, 64 in Minnesota, 41 in New Jersey, 38 in Montana, 27 in Colorado, 24 in Massachusetts, 13 in New York and 12 in Ohio.
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