While chain retailers and other large corporations have access to financing through the capital markets (which many of us help fund through our retirement plans and other investments), independent businesses have a much more challenging time securing financing. Below we have assembled examples of the kinds of institutions and policies that are essential to financing… Continue reading
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Citizen-led efforts to institute more universal health care programs are cropping up across the country. Some are very similar to the Canadian health care system. They call for a single-payer system, meaning that medical care would be paid for out of a single publicly administered pool of money, rather than by myriad managed care plans…. Continue reading
If you care about the future of the American renewable energy industry, you need to learn what the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) calls “passive activities.” Because these important rules mean that as long as the U.S. relies on the tax code to provide renewable energy incentives, renewable energy can only grow as fast as Wall… Continue reading
Update 3/9/12:Turns out I would be a lousy tax attorney and that the form of tax credit does not affect the passive loss rules. What if a small change in federal renewable energy policy could make community wind development easier? Last month, President Obama’s Treasury Department released proposed reforms to a number of business taxes… Continue reading
Update 4/23/13: EPA has updated its rankings to reflect green power as a percentage of total electricity use, accurately portraying Walmart’s paltry 4% renewable energy. While I generally have nothing but praise for the Environmental Protection Agency, their Green Power Partnership program falls short of the agency’s usual standard. In particular, the program – providing… Continue reading
Emissions reduction efforts to address the issue of climate change focus on two primary greenhouse gases: CO2 and methane. CO2 is released when fossil fuels – oil, coal and natural gas – are burned to power our cars, produce electricity or heat our buildings. Methane is emitted in urban areas when garbage and waste products decompose, primarily in landfills. Local and state governments can play a key role because they directly influence and control many of the activities that produce these emissions. Decisions about land use and development, investments in public transit, energy-efficient building codes, waste reduction and recycling programs all affect local air quality and living standards as well as the global climate. Continue reading
In this short interview on KGNU’s science show – How on Earth– with Tom McKinnon, we talk about: the problems presented for local ownership of energy resources when federal incentives use the tax code, the trouble for clean energy when it’s reliant on Wall Street, how Boulder, CO, may accomplish something remarkable with its vote… Continue reading
Clean energy advocates should cast aside their worries about increasing Republican scrutiny of energy subsidies. The clean energy industry’s foolish reliance on tax incentives has already handcuffed its expansion. Unlike the leading nations in the clean energy race, the United States has no coherent energy policy. Rather, its energy market is balkanized by 50 distinct… Continue reading
Americans seem unable to resist big things, and solar power plants are no exception. There may be no reasoning with an affinity for all things “super sized,” but the economics of large scale solar projects (and the unwelcome public scrutiny) should bury the notion that bigger is better for solar. In fact, smaller scale solar… Continue reading
The use of the tax code has long made the federal wind power incentives something of a bane for community wind power. Finding strategies to use the passive-income-only Production Tax Credit has made community wind developers do legal acrobatics to structure deals with tax equity partners that can use the credits.
Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Jon Tester (D-MT) hope to make community wind easier with the Community Wind Act.
The bill, introduced in late October 2011, would extend an existing 30% investment tax credit (ITC) for very small wind (100 kilowatts and smaller) to wind projects up to 20 megawatts in size. Since the ITC doesn’t require passive income, it may be easier for community wind developers to use the credit internally or to find tax equity partners closer to home.
Brian Minish, whose company Val-Add Services helped develop the innovative South Dakota Wind Partners community wind project, believes that the Community Wind Act could make a big difference:
We strongly support the Franken-Tester Community wind bill so other groups like ours have the opportunity to build competitive wind farm projects. Not needing to have investors with passive income to be able to utilize the production tax credits to take advantage of the federal incentive helped our project be successful.
The Wind Partners project brought together over 600 local farmers and South Dakota residents to own seven utility-scale wind turbines in a 10.5 megawatt wind project and utilized the short-lived cash grant in lieu of the Production Tax Credit. With the Community Wind Act, Wind Partners could more easily be replicated.