Note: The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (H.R. 5376) made several significant changes to this tax credit, including extending the expiration date, providing for new bonus credits, and establishing new criteria to qualify for the full credit. It also phases out this tax credit under section 45 of the Internal Revenue Code at the end of 2024 and replaces it with a new technology-neutral tax credit under section 45Y of the Internal Revenue Code. The summary below describes the current section 45 tax credit as modified by the Inflation Reduction Act, and below that, the new 45Y tax credit.
The federal renewable electricity production tax credit (PTC) is an inflation-adjusted 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. The duration of the credit is 10 years after the date the facility is placed in service.
Originally enacted in 1992, the PTC has been renewed and expanded numerous times, most recently by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. That bill established new prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements for larger system to qualify for the full value of the tax credit -- 2.6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for wind, closed-loop biomass, and geothermal energy; 1.3 cents per kWh for open-loop biomass facilities, small irrigation power facilities, landfill gas facilities and trash facilities. In late-2022 or 2023, the Treasury Secretary will issue guidance for these new labor provisions. The credit for different project types and available bonus credits is described below.
Projects under 1 MW (or larger projects that are commenced no more than 60 days after the Treasury Secretary develops labor guidelines) do not need to meet the new labor standards established by the Inflation Reduction to receive the full 1.3 or 2.6 cents/kWh (depending on the facility type) tax credit. This amount may be adjusted annually for inflation. Such projects that begin construction after 2021 and before 2025 can receive the full tax credit. Note, projects that commence construction on or after January 1, 2025 can receive a tax credit under the new Clean Energy Production Tax Credit (45Y) described below.
Projects over 1 MW that begin construction 60 days after the Treasury Secretary releases labor guidelines and no later than January 1, 2025 will receive a base tax credit of 0.5 cents/kWh. However, projects can qualify for the full tax credit if they ensure that all laborers and mechanics involved in the construction of the project or the maintenance of the project for the entire 10-year PTC period are paid wages at rates not less than prevailing wages. Projects must also ensure that a percentage of total labor hours are performed by qualified apprentices. The percent of hours increases over time to a maximum requirement of 15% in 2024 and thereafter. Note, projects that commence construction on or after January 1, 2025 can receive a tax credit under the new Clean Energy Production Tax Credit (45Y) described below.
The Domestic Content Bonus increases the credit amount by 10% for projects in which 100% of any steel or iron that is a component of the facility and 40% of the manufactured products that are components of the facility were produced in the United States. Note, the required percentage of domestic manufactured products for offshore wind facilities is 20%.
The Energy Community Bonus increases the credit amount by 10% for projects that are located at one of the following: (i) a brownfield site, (ii) a metropolitan or non-metropolitan statistical area which (A) has (or, at any time during the period beginning after December 31, 2009, had) 0.17% or greater direct employment or 25% or greater local tax revenues related to the extraction, processing, transport, or storage of coal, oil, or natural gas, or (B) has an unemployment rate above the national average for the previous year, or (iii) a census tract or a census tract that is adjoining a census tract in which a coal mine has closed after 1999 or a coal-fired electric generating unit was retired after 2009.
Section 13801 of The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 also established procedures for other parties to monetize certain tax credits, including this one, for equipment placed in service on or after January 1, 2023 and through December 31, 2032.
The direct pay option allows non-taxable entities to directly monetize certain tax credits. The provisions apply to nonprofits, a state or political subdivision thereof, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Indian tribal governments (as defined in Section 30D(g)(9)), any Alaska Native Corporation (as defined in Section 3 of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act), or any corporation operating on a cooperative basis which is engaged in furnishing electric energy to persons in rural areas. Such applicable entities can elect to be treated as having made a tax payment equal to the value of the tax credit they would otherwise be eligible to claim. The entity can then claim a refund for the excess taxes they are deemed to have paid. The option effectively makes this tax credit refundable for these entities.
The act also allows eligible taxpayers to transfer all or a portion of their eligible tax credits to an unrelated taxpayer. Transfers must be reported to IRS and only one transfer is permitted. Must be elected no later than the due date for tax filing for the tax year the tax credit is claimed.
Clean Energy Production Tax Credit (45Y)
Section 13701 of the Inflation Reduction Act created a new tax credit, the Clean Energy Production Tax Credit to replace the traditional PTC for systems placed in service on or after January 1, 2025. The tax credit is functionally similar to the PTC, but is not technology-specific. It applies to all generation facilities that have an anticipated greenhouse gas emissions rate of zero. The credit amount is generally calculated in the same manner as described above, and all technologies that satisfy the labor requirements will be eligible for the full value of the tax credit as adjusted for inflation. The credit will be phased out as the U.S. meets greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. For a project whose construction is commenced in the year following the year in which greenhouse gas emissions from the production of electricity in the United States are equal to or less than 25% of the 2022 levels, the tax credit will not be reduced. However, for projects commenced in the second year following the target being met, the tax credit will be worth 75% of what it would otherwise be. Projects commenced in the third year will receive a credit worth 50%, and all projects commenced after then will not be eligible for a tax credit.