Energy Economy

Federal Budget Deal to Boost Investment in Alternative Energy

When the U.S. Congress agreed on a 2016 budget bill to send to President Obama for his signature, there were a lot of attachments to the bill that have little to do with a federal budget and a lot to do with favorite legislation. The lifting of the 40-year ban on U.S. crude oil exports is one example, and the five-year extension of tax credits for new wind and solar projects is another.

If Congress had allowed the tax credits to expire on December 31, 2016, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reckons that spending between 2017 and 2021 on new wind-energy projects would have totaled around $14.5 billion. With the extension of the tax credits, spending is now estimated to rise to $34.6 billion over the five-year period, an increase of about 240%.

The impact on solar projects is equally significant. Under the expiring law, Bloomberg’s experts estimated 2016 through 2021 spending on new solar projects would total $29.1 billion for utility-scale, residential and commercial/industrial projects. As a result of the budget agreement, the estimate for five-year spending has risen to $50.1 billion, a boost of 172%.

We noted earlier Thursday a report from Deutsche Bank related to the impact of the tax-credit extension on four U.S. solar stocks. Included in the group are 8point3 Energy Partners L.P. (NASDAQ: CAFD), a joint-venture yieldco created by First Solar and SunPower, and SunEdison Inc. (NYSE: SUNE), a solar PV maker whose stock has been pummeled since July and traded down nearly 70% year to date Thursday morning.

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