United States/EZ Policies

Jump to: navigation, search

Federal EZ Policies for United States

To create a new entry use the form EZFeed Policy.
The EZ Policy Inventory is searchable by technology, policy type, and other fields with the EZ Policy Search Form.
Review process tips and editing help are here. Updates, additions and corrections are welcome!



Download EZ Policies for United States CSV (rows 1 - 18)

Policy Place Policy Type Active Implementing Sector Summary
Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) (Federal) United States Corporate Tax Credit Yes Federal The federal business energy investment tax credit available under 26 USC § 48 was expanded significantly by the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 (H.R. 1424), enacted in October 2008. This law extended the duration -- by eight years -- of the existing credits for solar energy, fuel cells and microturbines; increased the credit amount for fuel cells; established new credits for small wind-energy systems, geothermal heat pumps, and combined heat and power (CHP) systems; allowed utilities to use the credits; and allowed taxpayers to take the credit against the alternative minimum tax (AMT), subject to certain limitations. The credit was further expanded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, enacted in February 2009.



In general, the following credits are available for eligible systems placed in service on or before December 31, 2016*:


  • Solar. The credit is equal to 30% of expenditures, with no maximum credit. Eligible solar energy property includes equipment that uses solar energy to generate electricity, to heat or cool (or provide hot water for use in) a structure, or to provide solar process heat. Hybrid solar lighting systems, which use solar energy to illuminate the inside of a structure using fiber-optic distributed sunlight, are eligible. Passive solar systems and solar pool-heating systems are not eligible.
  • Fuel Cells. The credit is equal to 30% of expenditures, with no maximum credit. However, the credit for fuel cells is capped at $1,500 per 0.5 kilowatt (kW) of capacity. Eligible property includes fuel cells with a minimum capacity of 0.5 kW that have an electricity-only generation efficiency of 30% or higher. (Note that the credit for property placed in service before October 4, 2008, is capped at $500 per 0.5 kW.)
  • Small Wind Turbines. The credit is equal to 30% of expenditures, with no maximum credit for small wind turbines placed in service after December 31, 2008. Eligible small wind property includes wind turbines up to 100 kW in capacity. (In general, the maximum credit is $4,000 for eligible property placed in service after October 3, 2008, and before January 1, 2009. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 removed the $4,000 maximum credit limit for small wind turbines.)
  • Geothermal Systems. The credit is equal to 10% of expenditures, with no maximum credit limit stated. Eligible geothermal energy property includes geothermal heat pumps and equipment used to produce, distribute or use energy derived from a geothermal deposit. For electricity produced by geothermal power, equipment qualifies only up to, but not including, the electric transmission stage. For geothermal heat pumps, this credit applies to eligible property placed in service after October 3, 2008. Note that the credit for geothermal property, with the exception of geothermal heat pumps, has no stated expiration date.
  • Microturbines. The credit is equal to 10% of expenditures, with no maximum credit limit stated (explicitly). The credit for microturbines is capped at $200 per kW of capacity. Eligible property includes microturbines up to two megawatts (MW) in capacity that have an electricity-only generation efficiency of 26% or higher.
  • Combined Heat and Power (CHP). The credit is equal to 10% of expenditures, with no maximum limit stated. Eligible CHP property generally includes systems up to 50 MW in capacity that exceed 60% energy efficiency, subject to certain limitations and reductions for large systems. The efficiency requirement does not apply to CHP systems that use biomass for at least 90% of the system's energy source, but the credit may be reduced for less-efficient systems. This credit applies to eligible property placed in service after October 3, 2008.

In general, the original use of the equipment must begin with the taxpayer, or the system must be constructed by the taxpayer. The equipment must also meet any performance and quality standards in effect at the time the equipment is acquired. The energy property must be operational in the year in which the credit is first taken.

Significantly, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 repealed a previous restriction on the use of the credit for eligible projects also supported by "subsidized energy financing." For projects placed in service after December 31, 2008, this limitation no longer applies. Businesses that receive other incentives are advised to consult with a tax professional regarding how to calculate this federal tax credit.


* A number of changes to this credit are scheduled to take effect for systems placed in service after December 31, 2016. The credit for equipment that uses solar energy to generate electricity, to heat or cool (or provide hot water for use in) a structure, or to provide solar process heat will decrease from 30% to 10%. The credit for geothermal heat pumps, hybrid solar lighting, small wind, fuel cells, microturbines, and combined heat and power systems will expire. The credit amount for equipment which uses geothermal energy to produce electricity will remain at 10%.
Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) (Federal) United States Federal Loan Program Yes Federal Note: The IRS is not currently accepting applications for New CREB bond volume. The deadline for New CREB applications from electric cooperatives under IRS Announcement 2010-54 expired November 1, 2010. Bond volume for other eligible sectors (government entities and public power providers) was fully allocated in October 2009.

Readers should also note that the terms "New" and "Old" CREBs are used in the following summary to distinguish between prior CREB allocations and the New CREB authorizations made by the U.S. Congress in 2008 and 2009. The use of the term "New CREBs" has legal significance in that New CREBs authorized under 26 USC § 54A and 54C have substantially different rules than prior CREB allocations authorized under 26 USC § 54.

Clean renewable energy bonds (CREBs) may be used by certain entities -- primarily in the public sector -- to finance renewable energy projects. The list of qualifying technologies is generally the same as that used for the federal renewable energy production tax credit (PTC). CREBs may be issued by electric cooperatives, government entities (states, cities, counties, territories, Indian tribal governments or any political subdivision thereof), and by certain lenders. The bondholder receives federal tax credits in lieu of a portion of the traditional bond interest, resulting in a lower effective interest rate for the borrower.* The issuer remains responsible for repaying the principal on the bond.

The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 (Div. A, Sec. 107) allocated $800 million for new Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs). In February 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Div. B, Sec. 1111) allocated an additional $1.6 billion for New CREBs, for a total New CREB allocation of $2.4 billion. The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 also extended the deadline for previously reserved allocations ("Old CREBs") until December 31, 2009, and addressed several provisions in the existing law that previously limited the usefulness of the program for some projects. A separate section of the law extended CREBs eligibility to marine energy and hydrokinetic power projects.

Participation in the program is limited by the volume of bonds allocated by Congress for the program. Participants must first apply to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for a CREBs allocation, and then issue the bonds within a specified time period. The New CREBs allocation totaling $2.4 billion does not have a defined expiration date under the law; however, the recent IRS solicitations for new applications require the bonds to be issued within 3 years after the applicant receives notification of an approved allocation (see History section below for information on previous allocations). Public power providers, governmental bodies, and electric cooperatives are each reserved an equal share (33.3%) of the New CREBs allocation. The tax credit rate is set daily by the U.S. Treasury Department. Under past allocations, the credit could be taken quarterly on a dollar-for-dollar basis to offset the tax liability of the bondholder. However, under the new CREBs allocation, the credit has been reduced to 70% of what it would have been otherwise. Other important changes are described in IRS Notice 2009-33.

CREBs differ from traditional tax-exempt bonds in that the tax credits issued through CREBs are treated as taxable income for the bondholder. The tax credit may be taken each year the bondholder has a tax liability as long as the credit amount does not exceed the limits established by the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005. Treasury rates for prior CREB allocations, or "Old" CREBs are available here, while rates for New CREBs and other qualified tax credit bonds are available here.

In April 2009, the IRS issued Notice 2009-33, which solicited applications for the New CREB allocation and provided interim guidance on certain program rules and changes from prior CREB allocations. The expiration date for New CREB applications under this solicitation was August 4, 2009. Further guidance on CREBs is available in IRS Notices 2006-7 and 2007-26 to the extent that the program rules were not modified by 2008 and 2009 legislation. In October 2009, the Department of Treasury announced the allocation of $2.2 billion in new CREBs for 805 projects across the country. A new solicitation (IRS Announcement 2010-54) was issued in September 2010 for roughly $191 million in unallocated New CREB bond volume available only to electric cooperatives. The award announcement for this allocation was made in March 2011. It remains to be seen if or when the IRS will issue new funding announcements for Old CREB allocations which were not issued by the December 31, 2009 deadline, or New CREB allocations which miss the three-year issuance period.

History
The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) established Clean Energy Renewable Bonds (CREBs) as a financing mechanism for public sector renewable energy projects. This legislation originally allocated $800 million of tax credit bonds to be issued between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2007. Following the enactment of the federal Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, the IRS made an additional $400 million in CREBs financing available for 2008 through Notice 2007-26.

In November 2006, the IRS announced that the original $800 million allocation had been reserved for a total of 610 projects. The additional $400 million (plus surrendered volume from the previous allocation) was allocated to 312 projects in February 2008. Of the $1.2 billion total of tax-credit bond volume cap allocated to fund renewable-energy projects, state and local government borrowers were limited to $750 million of the volume cap, with the rest reserved for qualified municipal or cooperative electric companies.

For further information on CREBs, contact Zoran Stojanovic or Timothy Jones of the IRS Office of Associate Chief Counsel at (202) 622-3980. Questions on recent IRS Notice 2009-33 can be directed to Janae Lemley at (636) 255-1202.


  • In March 2010 Congress enacted H.R. 2847 (Sec. 301) permitting New CREB issuers to make an irrevocable election to receive a direct payment -- a refundable tax credit -- from the Department of Treasury equivalent to and in lieu of the amount of the non-refundable tax credit which would otherwise be provided to the bondholder. This option only applies to New CREBs issued after the March 18, 2010 enactment of the law. In April 2010 the IRS issued Notice 2010-35 providing guidance on the direct payment option.
Community Development Block Grant/Economic Development Infrastructure Financing (United States) United States Grant Program
Loan Program
Yes Federal Community Development Block Grant/Economic Development Infrastructure Financing (CDBG/EDIF) provides public infrastructure financing to help communities grow jobs, enable new business startups and expansions for existing businesses. State programs help achieve the national objective of CDBG by funding projects in which at least 51 percent of the new jobs created are made available to low and moderate income individuals. The maximum amounts awarded under the program are $1 million for new businesses locating to the state and $500,000 for existing businesses expanding in the state.
Interconnection Standards for Small Generators (Federal) United States Interconnection Yes Federal The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) adopted "small generator" interconnection standards for distributed energy resources up to 20 megawatts (MW) in capacity in May 2005.* The FERC's standards apply only to facilities subject to the jurisdiction of the commission; these facilities mostly include those that interconnect at the transmission level. The FERC's standards generally do not apply to distribution-level interconnection, which is regulated by state public utilities commissions. However, the FERC has noted that its interconnection standards for small generators should serve as a useful model for state-level standards.

The FERC's standards include Small Generator Interconnection Procedures (SGIP) and a Small Generator Interconnection Agreement (SGIA). The SGIP contains the technical procedures that the small generator and utility must follow in the course of connecting the generator with the utility's lines. The SGIA contains the contractual provisions for the interconnection and spells out who pays for improvements to the utility's electric system (if needed to complete the interconnection). The standards include provisions for three levels of interconnection:

  • The "10-kilowatt (kW) Inverter Process," for certified, inverter-based systems no larger than 10 kW;
  • The "Fast Track Process," for certified systems no larger than 2 MW; and
  • The default "Study Process," for all other systems no larger than 20 MW.

The standards include technical screens for each level of interconnection. Notably, the FERC standards do not require systems to include an external disconnect switch. Utilities and customers must follow specific timelines, and guidelines for interconnection and study fees are established. Customers must obtain liability insurance "sufficient to insure against all reasonably foreseeable direct liabilities given the size and nature of the generating equipment being interconnected, the interconnection itself, and the characteristics of the system to which the interconnection is made." Additional liability insurance must be obtained "only if necessary as a function of owning and operating a generating facility."


* The FERC adopted interconnection standards for facilities larger than 20 MW in July 2003. (See FERC Order Nos. 2003, 2003-A, 2003-B and 2003-C.) FERC's standards for larger generators include standard Large Generator Interconnection Procedures (LGIP) and a standard Large Generator Interconnection Agreement (LGIA).
Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS) (Federal) United States Corporate Depreciation Yes Federal Under the federal Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS), businesses may recover investments in certain property through depreciation deductions. The MACRS establishes a set of class lives for various types of property, ranging from three to 50 years, over which the property may be depreciated. A number of renewable energy technologies are classified as five-year property (26 USC § 168(e)(3)(B)(vi)) under the MACRS, which refers to 26 USC § 48(a)(3)(A), often known as the energy investment tax credit or ITC to define eligible property. Such property currently includes*:


  • a variety of solar-electric and solar-thermal technologies
  • fuel cells and microturbines
  • geothermal electric
  • direct-use geothermal and geothermal heat pumps
  • small wind (100 kW or less)
  • combined heat and power (CHP)
  • the provision which defines ITC technologies as eligible also adds the general term "wind" as an eligible technology, extending the five-year schedule to large wind facilities as well.

In addition, for certain other types of renewable energy property, such as biomass or marine and hydrokinetic property, the MACRS property class life is seven years. Eligible biomass property generally includes assets used in the conversion of biomass to heat or to a solid, liquid or gaseous fuel, and to equipment and structures used to receive, handle, collect and process biomass in a waterwall, combustion system, or refuse-derived fuel system to create hot water, gas, steam and electricity. Marine and hydrokinetic property includes facilities that utilize waves, tides, currents, free-flowing water, or differentials in ocean temperature to generate energy. It does not include traditional hydropower that uses dams, diversionary structures, or impoundments.

The 5-year schedule for most types of solar, geothermal, and wind property has been in place since 1986. The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) classified fuel cells, microturbines and solar hybrid lighting technologies as five-year property as well by adding them to § 48(a)(3)(A). This section was further expanded in October 2008 by the addition of geothermal heat pumps, combined heat and power, and small wind under The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008.


Bonus Depreciation

The federal Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, enacted in February 2008, included a 50% first-year bonus depreciation (26 USC § 168(k)) provision for eligible renewable-energy systems acquired and placed in service in 2008. The allowance for bonus depreciation has since been extended and modified several times since the original enactment, most recently in January 2013 by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (H.R. 8, Sec. 331). This legislation extended the placed in service deadline for 50% first-year bonus depreciation by one year, from December 31, 2012 to December 31, 2013. Currently, bonus depreciation is not available.


Bonus Depreciation History


The 50% first-year bonus depreciation provision enacted in 2008 was extended (retroactively for the entire 2009 tax year) under the same terms by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1), enacted in February 2009. It was renewed again in September 2010 (retroactively for the entire 2010 tax year) by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (H.R. 5297). In December 2010 the provision for bonus depreciation was amended and extended yet again by the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4853). Under these amendments, eligible property placed in service after September 8, 2010 and before January 1, 2012 was permitted to qualify for 100% first-year bonus depreciation. The December 2010 amendments also permitted bonus depreciation to be claimed for property placed in service during 2012, but reverted the allowable amount from 100% to 50% of the eligible basis. The 50% first-year bonus depreciation allowance was further extended for property placed in service during 2013 by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (H.R. 8, Sec. 331) in January 2013.

For more information on the federal MACRS, see IRS Publication 946, IRS Form 4562: Depreciation and Amortization, and Instructions for Form 4562. The IRS web site provides a search mechanism for forms and publications. Enter the relevant form, publication name or number, and click "GO" to receive the requested form or publication. For guidance on bonus depreciation, including information relating to the election to claim either 50% or 100% bonus depreciation, retroactive elections to claim 50% bonus depreciation for property placed in service during 2010, and eligible property, please see IRS Rev. Proc. 2011-26.


*Note that the definitions of eligible technologies included in this entry are somewhat simplified versions of those contained in tax code, which often contain additional caveats, restrictions, and modifications. Those interested in this incentive should review the relevant sections of the code in detail prior to making business decisions.
Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) (Federal) United States Federal Loan Program Yes Federal The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, enacted in October 2008, authorized the issuance of Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) that may be used by state, local and tribal governments to finance certain types of energy projects. QECBs are qualified tax credit bonds, and in this respect are similar to new Clean Renewable Energy Bonds or CREBs. The October 2008 enabling legislation set a limit of $800 million on the volume of energy conservation tax credit bonds that may be issued by state and local governments. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, enacted in February 2009, expanded the allowable bond volume to $3.2 billion. In April 2009, the IRS issued Notice 2009-29 providing interim guidance on how the program will operate and how the bond volume will be allocated. Subsequently, H.R. 2847 enacted in March 2010 introduced an option allowing issuers of QECBs and New CREBs to recoup part of the interest they pay on a qualified bond through a direct subsidy from the Department of Treasury. Guidance from the IRS on this option was issued in April 2010 under Notice 2010-35.

With tax credit bonds, generally the borrower who issues the bond pays back only the principal of the bond, and the bondholder receives federal tax credits in lieu of the traditional bond interest. The tax credit may be taken quarterly to offset the tax liability of the bondholder. The tax credit rate is set daily by the U.S. Treasury Department; however, energy conservation bondholders will receive only 70% of the full rate set by the Treasury Department under 26 USC § 54A. QECB rates are available here. Credits exceeding a bondholder's tax liability may be carried forward to the succeeding tax year, but cannot be refunded. Energy conservation bonds differ from traditional tax-exempt bonds in that the tax credits issued through the program are treated as taxable income for the bondholder.

For QECBs issued after March 18, 2010, the bond issuer may make an irrevocable election to receive a direct payment from the Department of Treasury equivalent to the amount of the non-refundable tax credit described above, which would otherwise accrue to the bondholder. The direct payment comes in the form of a refundable tax credit to the issuer in lieu of a tax credit to the bondholder. This option was formerly limited to Build America Bonds (see 26 USC § 6431, H.R. 2847 and IRS Notice 2010-35 for details). The advantage of either option is that it creates a lower effective interest rate for the issuer because the federal government subsidizes a portion of the interest costs.

In contrast to CREBs, QECBs are not subject to a U.S. Department of Treasury application and approval process. Bond volume is instead allocated to each state based on the state's percentage of the U.S. population as of July 1, 2008. Each state is then required to allocate a portion of its allocation to "large local governments" within the state based on the local government's percentage of the state's population. Large local governments are defined as municipalities and counties with populations of 100,000 or more. Large local governments may reallocate their designated portion back to the state if they choose to do so. IRS Notice 2009-29 contains a list of the QECB allocations for each state and U.S. territory. Implementing allocations and reallocations most often, but not always, takes place through State Energy Offices. As of this writing some states have yet to assign implementation responsibilities to a specific state agency.

The definition of "qualified energy conservation projects" is fairly broad and contains elements relating to energy efficiency capital expenditures in public buildings that reduce energy consumption by at least 20%; green community programs (including loans and grants to implement such programs); renewable energy production; various research and development applications; mass commuting facilities that reduce energy consumption; several types of energy related demonstration projects; and public energy efficiency education campaigns. In July 2012 the IRS issued Notice 2012-44 clarifying the meaning of "capital expenditures" and "green community program", and providing guidance on meeting the 20% energy consumption reduction requirement for energy -efficiency related capital expenditures in publicly-owned buildings (see 26 USC § 54D and IRS Notice 2012-44 for additional details). Renewable energy facilities that are eligible for CREBs are also eligible for QECBs.

For more information on QECBs, contact Timothy Jones, David White, or Zoran Stojanovich of the IRS Office of Associate Chief Counsel at (202) 622-3980.
Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit (PTC) (Federal) United States Corporate Tax Credit Yes Federal Note: This credit expired at the end of 2013. Projects that were not under construction prior to January 1, 2014, are ineligible for this credit. See below for more information about determining when construction has commenced on a project.


The federal renewable electricity production tax credit (PTC) is a per-kilowatt-hour (kWh) tax credit for electricity generated by qualified energy resources and sold by the taxpayer to an unrelated person during the taxable year. Originally enacted in 1992, the PTC has been renewed and expanded numerous times, most recently by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1 Div. B, Section 1101 & 1102) in February 2009 (often referred to as "ARRA") and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (H.R. 6, Sec. 407) in January 2013.


The January 2013 legislation revised the credit by: (1) removing "placed in service" deadlines and replacing them with deadlines that use the beginning of construction as a basis for determining facility eligibility; (2) extending the deadline for wind energy facilities by one year, from December 31, 2012, to December 31, 2013; (3) extending the permission for PTC-eligible facilities to claim the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) through 2013 (also using the start of construction rather than placed-in-service date as a reference); and (4) revising the definition of the term "municipal solid waste" to exclude "paper that is commonly recycled and which has been segregated from other solid waste.” The definitional change for municipal solid waste applies to electricity produced and sold after the enactment date of the legislation (January 2, 2013) in taxable years ending after that date.


Credit Amount


The tax credit amount is $0.015 per kWh in 1993 dollars for some technologies and half of that amount for others. The amount is adjusted for inflation by multiplying the tax credit amount by the inflation adjustment factor for the calendar year in which the sale occurs, rounded to the nearest 0.1 cents. (For 2014, the inflation adjustment factor used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is 1.5088.)


The table below outlines the credit amount as it applies to different resource types. The table includes changes made by H.R. 8 in January 2013, and the inflation-adjusted credit amounts are current for the 2014 calendar year, as published in the IRS Notice 2014-36.


{
Residential Energy Conservation Subsidy Exclusion (Corporate) (Federal) United States Corporate Exemption Yes Federal According to Section 136 of the U.S. Code, energy conservation subsidies provided (directly or indirectly) to customers by public utilities* are non-taxable. This exclusion does not apply to electricity-generating systems registered as "qualifying facilities" under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA). If a taxpayer claims federal tax credits or deductions for the energy conservation property, the investment basis for the purpose of claiming the deduction or tax credit must be reduced by the value of the energy conservation subsidy (i.e., a taxpayer may not claim a tax credit for an expense that the taxpayer ultimately did not pay).

The term "energy conservation measure" includes installations or modifications primarily designed to reduce consumption of electricity or natural gas, or to improve the management of energy demand. Eligible dwelling units include houses, apartments, condominiums, mobile homes, boats and similar properties. If a building or structure contains both dwelling units and other units, any subsidy must be properly allocated.

The definition of "energy conservation measure" implies that utility rebates for residential solar-thermal projects and photovoltaic (PV) systems may be non-taxable. However, the IRS has not ruled definitively on this issue. Taxpayers considering using this provision for a renewable energy system should discuss the details of the project with a tax professional. Other types of utility subsidies that may come in the form of credits or reduced rates might also be non-taxable, according to IRS Publication 525.


* The term "public utility" is defined as an entity "engaged in the sale of electricity or natural gas to residential, commercial, or industrial customers for use by such customers." The term includes federal, state and local government entities.
Residential Energy Conservation Subsidy Exclusion (Personal) (Federal) United States Personal Exemption Yes Federal According to Section 136 of the U.S. Code, energy conservation subsidies provided (directly or indirectly) to customers by public utilities* are non-taxable. This exclusion does not apply to electricity-generating systems registered as "qualifying facilities" under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA). If a taxpayer claims federal tax credits or deductions for the energy conservation property, the investment basis for the purpose of claiming the deduction or tax credit must be reduced by the value of the energy conservation subsidy (i.e., a taxpayer may not claim a tax credit for an expense that the taxpayer ultimately did not pay).


The term "energy conservation measure" includes installations or modifications primarily designed to reduce consumption of electricity or natural gas, or to improve the management of energy demand. Eligible dwelling units include houses, apartments, condominiums, mobile homes, boats and similar properties. If a building or structure contains both dwelling units and other units, any subsidy must be properly allocated.


The definition of "energy conservation measure" implies that utility rebates for residential solar-thermal projects and photovoltaic (PV) systems may be non-taxable. However, the IRS has not ruled definitively on this issue. Taxpayers considering using this provision for a renewable energy system should discuss the details of the project with a tax professional. Other types of utility subsidies that may come in the form of credits or reduced rates might also be non-taxable, according to IRS Publication 525.


* The term "public utility" is defined as an entity "engaged in the sale of electricity or natural gas to residential, commercial, or industrial customers for use by such customers." The term includes federal, state and local government entities.
Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit (Federal) United States Personal Tax Credit Yes Federal Established by The 'Energy Policy Act of 2005, the federal tax credit for residential energy property initially applied to solar-electric systems, solar water heating systems and fuel cells. The Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 extended the tax credit to small wind-energy systems and geothermal heat pumps, effective January 1, 2008. Other key revisions included an eight-year extension of the credit to December 31, 2016; the ability to take the credit against the alternative minimum tax; and the removal of the $2,000 credit limit for solar-electric systems beginning in 2009. The credit was further enhanced in February 2009 by The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which removed the maximum credit amount for all eligible technologies (except fuel cells) placed in service after 2008.

A taxpayer may claim a credit of 30% of qualified expenditures for a system that serves a dwelling unit located in the United States that is owned and used as a residence by the taxpayer. Expenditures with respect to the equipment are treated as made when the installation is completed. If the installation is at a new home, the "placed in service" date is the date of occupancy by the homeowner. Expenditures include labor costs for on-site preparation, assembly or original system installation, and for piping or wiring to interconnect a system to the home. If the federal tax credit exceeds tax liability, the excess amount may be carried forward to the succeeding taxable year. The excess credit may be carried forward until 2016, but it is unclear whether the unused tax credit can be carried forward after then. The maximum allowable credit, equipment requirements and other details vary by technology, as outlined below.


Solar-electric property


  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer’s principal residence.


Solar water-heating property


  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • Equipment must be certified for performance by the Solar Rating Certification Corporation (SRCC) or a comparable entity endorsed by the government of the state in which the property is installed.
  • At least half the energy used to heat the dwelling's water must be from solar in order for the solar water-heating property expenditures to be eligible.
  • The tax credit does not apply to solar water-heating property for swimming pools or hot tubs.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer’s principal residence.


Fuel cell property


  • The maximum credit is $500 per half kilowatt (kW).
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2006, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The fuel cell must have a nameplate capacity of at least 0.5 kW of electricity using an electrochemical process and an electricity-only generation efficiency greater than 30%.
  • In case of joint occupancy, the maximum qualifying costs that can be taken into account by all occupants for figuring the credit is $1,667 per 0.5 kW. This does not apply to married individuals filing a joint return. The credit that may be claimed by each individual is proportional to the costs he or she paid.
  • The home served by the system must be the taxpayer’s principal residence.


Small wind-energy property


  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2008, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer’s principal residence.


Geothermal heat pumps


  • There is no maximum credit for systems placed in service after 2008.
  • Systems must be placed in service on or after January 1, 2008, and on or before December 31, 2016.
  • The geothermal heat pump must meet federal Energy Star criteria.
  • The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer’s principal residence.



Significantly, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 repealed a previous limitation on the use of the credit for eligible projects also supported by "subsidized energy financing." For projects placed in service after December 31, 2008, this limitation no longer applies.
Tribal Energy Program Grant (Federal) United States Federal Grant Program Yes Federal The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Tribal Energy Program promotes tribal energy sufficiency, economic growth, and employment on tribal lands through the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. The program provides financial assistance, technical assistance, and education and training to tribes for the evaluation and development of renewable energy resources and energy efficiency measures.

DOE's Tribal Energy Program consists of program management through DOE headquarters, program implementation and project management through DOE's field offices, and technical support through DOE laboratories. Program management for the Tribal Energy Program is carried out by DOE's Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program, which provides programmatic direction and funding to DOE field offices for program implementation. DOE's Golden Field Office solicits, awards, administers, and manages financial assistance agreements.


Program funding is awarded through a competitive process. Click here to view current program funding opportunities, here for other tribal-energy related funding opportunities, and here to apply for technical assistance.
U.S. Department of Energy - Loan Guarantee Program (Federal) United States Federal Loan Program Yes Federal
Section 1703 of Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005 created the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Loan Guarantee Program. The program was reauthorized and revised by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 by adding Section 1705 to EPAct. The 1705 Program was retired in September 2011, and Loan Guarantees are no longer available under that authority. DOE, however, still has authority to issue Loan Guarantees under the old Section 1703 Program.
Under Section 1703, DOE is authorized to issue loan guarantees for projects with high technology risks that "avoid, reduce or sequester air pollutants or anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases; and employ new or significantly improved technologies as compared to commercial technologies in service in the United States at the time the guarantee is issued." Loan guarantees are intended to encourage early commercial use of new or significantly improved technologies in energy projects. The loan guarantee program generally does not support research and development projects.
Loan guarantees are provided in response to open solicitations. A solicitation for Renewable Energy Projects and Energy Efficiency Projects was issued in July 2014, with a final Part I application due date of December 2, 2015. Up to $2.5 billion is available for projects in renewable energy, efficient end-use, and efficient generation, transmission, and distribution technologies. See the program website for more details on eligibility and the application process.

Section 1703 requires either an appropriation to cover the Credit Subsidy Cost (the expected long term liability to the Federal Government for providing the loan guarantee), or payment of the Credit Subsidy Cost by the borrower. A credit-based interest rate spread will be added to certain loans receiving a 100% loan guarantee from DOE and financing from the Federal Financing Bank. Rates and more information are available here.



U.S. Federal Government - Green Power Purchasing Goal (Federal) United States Green Power Purchasing Yes Federal The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) extended and expanded several previous goals and standards to reduce energy use in existing and new federal buildings. Section 203 of EPAct 2005 requires that, to the extent it is economically feasible and technically practicable, the total amount of renewable electric energy consumed by the federal government during any fiscal year shall not be less than the following:
  • 3% in fiscal years 2007-2009
  • 5% in fiscal years 2010-2012
  • 7.5% in fiscal year 2013 thereafter

The amount of renewable-energy credit is doubled for electricity produced and used on-site at a federal facility, produced on federal lands and used at a federal facility, or if it is produced on Indian land as defined in title XXVI of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and used at a federal facility.

Renewable electrical energy technologies defined in this section include solar, wind, biomass, landfill gas, ocean (including tidal, wave, current and thermal), geothermal, municipal solid waste, and new hydroelectric generation capacity achieved from increased efficiency or additions of new capacity at an existing hydroelectric project. Executive Order 13423, issued in January 2007, requires at least half of the mandated renewable energy consumed by an agency in a fiscal year to be generated by systems sources placed into service after January 1, 1999.

Section 204 of EPAct 2005 establishes a photovoltaic (PV) energy commercialization program for the procurement and installation of PV systems in public and federal buildings. It requires the installation of 20,000 solar-energy systems on federal buildings by 2010, as contained in the federal Million Solar Roof Initiative (MSRI) of 1997. The commercialization program has been appropriated $50 million annually for fiscal years 2006–2010, until funds are expended. An evaluation program has been appropriated $10 million annually for fiscal years 2006-2010, until funds are expended.

The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) has issued guidelines to help federal agencies meet energy management and renewable energy requirements for complying with EPAct 2005 and Executive Order 13423. For an overview of these requirements and for updates on progress in meeting the federal renewable-energy goals, see the FEMP web site.
USDA - Biorefinery Assistance Program (Federal) United States Federal Loan Program Yes Federal USDA Rural Development is offering loan guarantees for the development, construction, and retrofitting of commercial-scale biorefineries. Eligible borrowers include individuals, entities, Indian tribes, state or local governments, corporations, farm cooperatives or farm cooperative organizations, associations of agricultural producers, National Laboratories, institutions of higher education, rural electric cooperatives, public power entities, and consortium of any of these types of entities. Financed entities must provide at least 20% of the financing for eligible project costs, and applications for funding must include an independent feasibility study and technical assessment. Eligible project costs include the purchase and installation of equipment, construction or retrofitting costs, permit and licensing fees, working capital, land acquisition, and the costs of financing.


The project must meet the following requirements:


  • Must be for the development and construction or the retrofitting of a commercial-scale biorefinery using an eligible technology
  • Must use an eligible feedstock for the production of advanced biofuels and biobased products
  • The majority of the production must be an advanced biofuels

Eligible advanced biofuels include:


  • Biofuel derived from cellulose, hemicellulose, or lignin, or other fuels derived from cellulose
  • Biofuel derived from sugar, starch, excluding ethanol derived from from corn kernel starch
  • Biofuel derived from waste material, including crop residue, vegetative waste material, animal waste, food waste, and yard waste
  • Diesel fuel derived from renewable biomass, including vegetable oil and animal fat
  • Biogas, including landfill gas and sewage waste treatment gas, produced through the conversion of organic matter from renewable biomass
Congress allocated $75 million for FY 2009 and $245 million for FY 2010, in addition to up to $150 million in discretionary funds annually beginning in FY 2009. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 extended discretionary funding through FY 2013. For FY 2014, approximately $76 million in carry over budget will support a program level of approximately $181 million.
USDA - High Energy Cost Grant Program (Federal) United States Federal Grant Program Yes Federal NOTE: The most recent solicitation for this program closed August 1, 2014. Please check the program website for information on future solicitations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers an ongoing grant program for the improvement of energy generation, transmission, and distribution facilities in rural communities. This program began in 2000. Eligibility is limited to projects in communities that have average home energy costs at least 275% above the national average. Individuals, non-profits, commercial entities, state and local governments (including any agency or instrumentality thereof), and tribal governments are eligible for this grant. Individuals must work on a project that will benefit the community in order to qualify. Under the most recent solicitation for projects, a total of $7 million was available for qualifying projects. Under this solicitation grants ranging from $50,000 to $3 million were available for a variety of activities, including:


  • Electric generation, transmission, and distribution facilities;
  • Natural gas or petroleum storage or distribution facilities;
  • Renewable energy facilities used for on-grid or off-grid electric power generation, water or space heating, or process heating and power;
  • Backup up or emergency power generation or energy storage equipment; and
  • Weatherization of residential and community property, or other energy efficiency or conservation programs.
This grant program is not limited to renewable energy or energy conservation and efficiency measures, but these measures are eligible for this grant program.
USDA - Repowering Assistance Biorefinery Program (Federal) United States Federal Grant Program Yes Federal The Repowering Assistance Program provides payments to eligible biorefineries to replace fossil fuels used to produce heat or power to operate the biorefineries with renewable biomass. Reimbursement payments are provided to offset a portion of the costs associated with the conversion of existing fossil fuel systems to renewable biomass fuel systems.


The reimbursement amounts vary and are determined by the availability of funds, the project scope, and the ability of the proposed project to meet all the scoring criteria. In particular reimbursement amounts are calculated by the percentage reduction in fossil fuel used by the biorefinery, the quantity of fossil fuels replaced by a renewable biomass system, and the cost effectiveness of the renewable biomass system. The program will provide reimbursement payments for eligible project costs of the renewable biomass system during the construction phase of the repowering project. Up to 90% of the funds can be utilized during project construction, with the remaining 10% made upon demonstration of successful completion of the project. A maximum of 50% of the total project costs can be reimbursed, as long as amount does not exceed the maximum award for the fiscal year.


Eligible technologies may include, but are not limited to, anaerobic digesters, processed steam, biomass boilers, or combined heat and power technologies (CHP). Applicants must demonstrate, at the time of application, that the proposed site has direct access to biomass or third party commitments to supply biomass for the repowering project for at least three years.


Payments are made for eligible post-application costs incurred during the construction phase of the repowering project.


Congress allocated $35 million for FY 2009, in addition to up to $15 million in discretionary funds annually beginning in FY 2009. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 extended discretionary funding through FY 2013.
USDA - Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grants (Federal) United States Federal Grant Program Yes Federal Note: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development issues periodic Notices of Solicitation of Applications for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) in the Federal Registry. The most recent solicitation for the REAP program was on May 5th, 2014 and can be viewed in the Federal Registry here. The next Notice of Funding Availability will be published in the Federal Registry and on the USDA website here.


Notably, the 2014 Farm Bill removed authority for the USDA to fund REAP feasibility studies with REAP grants.


The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides financial assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses in rural America to purchase, install, and construct renewable energy systems, make energy efficiency improvements to non-residential buildings and facilities, use renewable technologies that reduce energy consumption, and participate in energy audits and renewable energy development assistance.


Renewable energy projects for the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loan and Grant Program include wind, solar, biomass and geothermal, and hydrogen derived from biomass or water using wind, solar, or geothermal energy sources. These grants are limited to 25% of a proposed project's cost, and a loan guarantee may not exceed $25 million. The combined amount of a grant and loan guarantee must be at least $5,000 (with the grant portion at least $1,500) and may not exceed 75% of the project’s cost. In general, a minimum of 20% of the funds available for these incentives will be dedicated to grants of $20,000 or less. For more information on grant, loan guarantees, loan financing, and opportunities for combinations thereof, visit the USDA website.


In 2014, $12.3 million in grants and $56.4 million in loans was awarded. For a complete list of 2014 projects, click here.


Eligibility


Grants and loans are generally available to state government entities, local governments, tribal governments, land-grant colleges and universities**, rural electric cooperatives and public power entities, and other entities, as determined by the USDA. To be eligible for REAP grants and loans, an applicant must have a satisfactory revenue stream and be in control the budget, operations, and maintenance of a project for the entire duration of the loan or grant. Rural small businesses must be located in rural areas, but agricultural producers may be located in non-rural areas.


Eligible project costs include purchasing energy efficiency improvements or a renewable energy system, energy audits or assessments, permitting and licensing fees, and business plans and retrofitting. For new construction the replacement of older equipment with more efficient equipment may be eligible as a project cost only when a new facility is planned to be more efficient and similarly sized than the older facility. Working capital and land acquisition are only eligible for loan guarantees.


For more information regarding applicant and project eligibility for loans and grants, visit the USDA REAP eligibility webpage, read the eligibility requirements in the most recent Solicitation of Applications for REAP funding in the Federal Registry, and/or contact your regional rural energy coordinator.


Regional rural energy coordinators provide loan and grant applications upon request.


History


The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (H.R. 2419), enacted by Congress in May 2008, converted the federal Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program,* into the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Similar to its predecessor, the REAP promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy for agricultural producers and rural small businesses through the use of (1) grants and loan guarantees for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems, and (2) grants for energy audits and renewable energy development assistance. Congress has allocated funding for the new program in the following amounts: $55 million for FY 2009, $60 million for FY 2010, $70 million for FY 2011, and $70 million for FY 2012. REAP is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In addition to these mandatory funding levels, up to $25 million in discretionary funding may be issued each year. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (H.R. 8) extended discretionary funding for FY 2013. The 2014 Farm Bill reauthorized the USDA to offer these programs and removed the mandate to offer grants for feasibility studies.

* The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program was created by the USDA pursuant to Section 9006 of the 2002 federal Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. Funding in the amount of $23 million per year was appropriated for each fiscal year from FY 2003-2007. In March 2008, the USDA announced that it would accept $220.9 million in applications for grants, loan guarantees, and loan/grant combination packages under the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program. The application deadline was June 16, 2008.

**Land grant colleges and universities are referred to above as "schools" and "institutions". It is important to note that K-12 schools are not eligible for this grant.
USDA - Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Loan Guarantees (Federal) United States Federal Loan Program Yes Federal ote: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development issues periodic Notices of Solicitation of Applications for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) in the Federal Registry. The most recent solicitation for the REAP program was on May 5th, 2014 and can be viewed in the Federal Registry here. The next Notice of Funding Availability will be published in the Federal Registry and on the USDA website here.


Notably, the 2014 Farm Bill removed authority for the USDA to fund REAP feasibility studies with REAP grants.


The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides financial assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses in rural America to purchase, install, and construct renewable energy systems, make energy efficiency improvements to non-residential buildings and facilities, use renewable technologies that reduce energy consumption, and participate in energy audits and renewable energy development assistance.


Renewable energy projects for the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loan and Grant Program include wind, solar, biomass and geothermal, and hydrogen derived from biomass or water using wind, solar, or geothermal energy sources. These grants are limited to 25% of a proposed project's cost, and a loan guarantee may not exceed $25 million. The combined amount of a grant and loan guarantee must be at least $5,000 (with the grant portion at least $1,500) and may not exceed 75% of the project’s cost. In general, a minimum of 20% of the funds available for these incentives will be dedicated to grants of $20,000 or less. For more information on grant, loan guarantees, loan financing, and opportunities for combinations thereof, visit the USDA website.


In 2014, $12.3 million in grants and $56.4 million in loans was awarded. For a complete list of 2014 projects, click here.


Eligibility


Grants and loans are generally available to state government entities, local governments, tribal governments, land-grant colleges and universities**, rural electric cooperatives and public power entities, and other entities, as determined by the USDA. To be eligible for REAP grants and loans, an applicant must have a satisfactory revenue stream and be in control the budget, operations, and maintenance of a project for the entire duration of the loan or grant. Rural small businesses must be located in rural areas, but agricultural producers may be located in non-rural areas.


Eligible project costs include purchasing energy efficiency improvements or a renewable energy system, energy audits or assessments, permitting and licensing fees, and business plans and retrofitting. For new construction the replacement of older equipment with more efficient equipment may be eligible as a project cost only when a new facility is planned to be more efficient and similarly sized than the older facility. Working capital and land acquisition are only eligible for loan guarantees.


For more information regarding applicant and project eligibility for loans and grants, visit the USDA REAP eligibility webpage, read the eligibility requirements in the most recent Solicitation of Applications for REAP funding in the Federal Registry, and/or contact your regional rural energy coordinator.


Regional rural energy coordinators provide loan and grant applications upon request.


History


The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (H.R. 2419), enacted by Congress in May 2008, converted the federal Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program,* into the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Similar to its predecessor, the REAP promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy for agricultural producers and rural small businesses through the use of (1) grants and loan guarantees for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems, and (2) grants for energy audits and renewable energy development assistance. Congress has allocated funding for the new program in the following amounts: $55 million for FY 2009, $60 million for FY 2010, $70 million for FY 2011, and $70 million for FY 2012. REAP is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In addition to these mandatory funding levels, up to $25 million in discretionary funding may be issued each year. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (H.R. 8) extended discretionary funding for FY 2013. The 2014 Farm Bill reauthorized the USDA to offer these programs and removed the mandate to offer grants for feasibility studies.

* The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program was created by the USDA pursuant to Section 9006 of the 2002 federal Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. Funding in the amount of $23 million per year was appropriated for each fiscal year from FY 2003-2007. In March 2008, the USDA announced that it would accept $220.9 million in applications for grants, loan guarantees, and loan/grant combination packages under the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program. The application deadline was June 16, 2008.

**Land grant colleges and universities are referred to above as "schools" and "institutions". It is important to note that K-12 schools are not eligible for this grant.